Page 229 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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a b a k o f f
— A
m e r ic a n
e b r ew
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et tr e s
2 0 9
Abraham Zvi Halevy (1907-1966), in his collection
M i-Tokh
(Encaged, 1948), struck a note of stark realism. At times
his verses read like a confessional, expressing a feeling of guilt
and self-castigation for not sharing in his people’s struggle for
statehood. His sense of frustration and loneliness is most acutely
evident in his cycle of poems on New York. To offset his forlorn-
ness, he identifies with the tragedy of his people and its new life
in its homeland.
Three American Hebrew poets who have made their home in
Israel have published major works which highlight their lifelong
contribution to the body of Hebrew literature. Last year Israel
Efros (1890-
) issued four volumes of his collected poetry
which brought him the coveted Bialik Prize for literature in
Israel. These volumes offer a guide to his literary creativity dur-
ing a period of over a half century. Beginning his poetic career
as a lyricist, Efros turned to the epic form and produced two
large-scale epics. His “Silent Wigwams” dealt with the tragic
fate of the Indians, while his “Gold” had as its basis the historic
Gold Rush and its materialistic drives. Reacting sensitively to
the horrors of our generation he also penned a volume of poems
of wrath and lamentation. Many of his poems enthrall over
Jewish redemption and the new life in Israel. A further dimen-
sion of his work is represented by his philosophical poems, sev-
eral of which treat the Genesis tales in a sophisticated manner.
Another poet, Abraham Regelson (1896-
), has harvested
the fruits of his work of over four decades in his volume entitled
H akuko t O tiyo ta ikh
(Your Letters Are Engraved, 1962). Regel-
son’s poetic output manifests a close affinity to the masters of
English and American literature. The concluding section of his
volume is devoted to translations from such poets as Milton,
Blake, Wordsworth and Whitman, among others. Regelson’s
original style and the philosophical quality of his writing are
amply demonstrated in his work. In dealing with the problems
of human existence he transports us to primitive times, and in
the struggles and gropings of early man we find mirrored our
present-day conflicts and doubts. The volume earned for its au-
thor the Brenner literary prize in Israel.
Some two decades after the publication of his first major col-
lection of poetry in 1946, Simon Halkin brought out his second
M a’avar Yabbok
(Crossing the Jabbok, 1965), which won
the Kovner Hebrew poetry award of the Jewish Book Council of
America for 1966. Halkin’s first collection incorporated his sensi-
tive reaction to the war years, with their toll of extermination and
their anguished hopes for reconstruction. A complex artist, he
has continued to examine man’s predicament and loss of faith.
Life and death, the futility of old age, and the redeeming power