Page 139 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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ip t z in
— A
a r o n
la n z
e y e l e s
Theoretician of Introspective Movement
As the chief theoretician of Insichism, Leyeles continued
throughout the later decades to battle for his concept of poetry
as rhythmically disciplined thinking, feeling, experiencing. He
prefaced his lyric volume
Fabius L in d
(1937) with a vigorous
restatement of his creed. Fabius Lind, the title hero, is Leyeles.
In him are commingled two main streams which had their origin
in Lodz and New York. His ancestry and childhood experiences
molded him into a Jewish personality to whom every aspect of
his people’s past and present was precious. But his adult years
were spent in the American metropolis. Hence New York also
became his spiritual no less than his physical home. He loves and
sings of its teeming life from the Battery to Crotona Park and
Bronx Park. If he reacts in anger and in sadness to Hitler’s anti-
Jewishness, he reacts no less intensely to the hurt inflicted upon
America by reactionary forces. He cannot cavort in the roundelay
of carefree life as do others. He dreams throughout his days and
nights of a non-existent Utopian realm and of human beings
as they should be and not as they are. Jews whom others despise
and drag through horrors, come closest to his ideal of man be-
cause amidst their suffering they still scorn the might of their
oppressors. For a brief moment the poet puts his faith in the
Biro-Bidjan pioneers as symbols of Jewish rejuvenation in the
land of the Soviets. But he is quickly disillusioned by Stalinist
reality. He is no less shocked by American injustice and laments
the fate of Sacco and Vanzetti in a poem of 1927. But his disap-
pointment with America is only temporary and he emerges with
renewed faith in America’s historic ideals, a faith he documents
most eloquently in the lyrics of
America and I {America und Ich,
The lyrics of
A Jew A t Sea (A Yid O ifn Yam,
1947) were
mainly composed under the impact of the Jewish catastrophe in
Eastern Europe. This catastrophe cries out in him. He is ashamed
to walk in the sunlight along the banks of the Hudson while his
kinsmen were being ground to dung along the Vistula. He is
pursued by nightmares of the horror being perpetrated at Mai-
danek and Treblinka. After a moment of weakness in calling
for vengeance upon those who desecrate the face of man, he
recovers and calls upon the surviving Jews to react rather in
typically Jewish fashion to the evil which has spread over the
globe by becoming better, purer, holier.
A verse preface to this volume opens with the line: “In the
beginning was the melody.” Only a person with an ear for a
poem’s inner cadence is at home in the mystic land of poesy.