Page 137 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

Basic HTML Version

117
L
ip t z in
— A
a r o n
G
l a n z
-L
e y e l e s
thought and sought to reinterpret the environment in accordance
with the individual’s Gestalt or psychic configuration.
Introspectivism meant peering into oneself. The Insichists
wished to give a structure to the chaotic multiplicity of phe-
nomena, an organic form based upon their own uniqueness. Their
earliest manifesto of January 1920 proclaimed: “The world exists
for us only insofar as it is mirrored in us, insofar as it touches
us. The world is a non-existent category, a fiction, if it is not
related to us. It becomes a reality only in us and through us.”
Glanz-Leyeles questioned the existence of an objective world.
Even if such a world did exist in some chaotic, amorphic way,
we could not possibly know it. All we know is ourselves. It is our
soul that organizes the chaos. We create or recreate the world
in our image. In us are all worlds—past, present and future. What
we see in ourselves is the only truth for us.
The Insichist concept of poetry as the expression of a poet’s
inner panorama, no matter how kaleidoscopic, contradictory or
unclear it might be, paralleled the egocentric formulation of the
Expressionists dominant in Central Europe during and after
World War I. Like the Expressionist poets, the Yiddish group
found existing metrical and stanzaic patterns too confining. They
felt that every lyric must have its own individual rhythm. They
held that free verse could best reproduce the accelerated, irregu-
lar, noisy tempo of the metropolis and the machine civilization.
Seeking to narrow the boundary between prose and verse, they
refused to accept rhyme as an essential ingredient but they were
willing to use it for special effects in combination with free verse.
The Insichists called for a widening of the lyric horizon to
include every subject, and they claimed the urbanization of the
Yiddish lyric as one of their supreme achievements. But their
chief contribution resided in innovations of style and not of
content: their creation of newer and subtler rhythms, their con-
centration on essential traits rather than heaping detail upon
detail, their emphasis on the simple word rather than the dec-
orative one, their stress on the exact sculptured phrase and the
concrete, sharply delineated image rather than the dreamy diffu-
siveness preferred by their Impressionist forerunners.
A. Glanz, who in 1914 adopted the pseudonym A. Leyeles for
his verse but not for his prose, was the oldest member of the
Insichists. In 1905, at the age of sixteen, he emigrated from Poland
to London in search of higher education and four years later
he continued on to New York. During his student years at Colum-
bia University, from 1910 to 1913, he acquired a thorough knowl-
edge of American literature. Afterwards he prgyed, by his superb