Page 100 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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A A R O N Z E I T L I N THE POE T
AT S E V E N T Y
B
y
M
o s h e
S
t a r k m a n
T
h e
J
ew ish
l iterar y
w o r l d
has recently marked the seventieth
anniversary of the birth of Aaron Zeitlin, one of the most
outstanding Hebrew-Yiddish poets, playwrights, essayists and t
ers in our generation.
Zeitlin has poured into the vessels of poetic forms the joys and
sorrows of modern man, in whose inner world the poet and the
Jew are inseparable, complementing each other, bearing testimony
of his being inspired by age-old Jewish traditions, by Jewish
history, Jewish mysticism and by
Hasidut
in its purest forms.
Jewish tradition throughout the ages, Jewish history and the
distinct personalities in its various eras, the worlds of Jewish
mysticism and
Hasidut,
are the landscapes of Zeitlin’s poetry. This
traditionalism has never interfered with his being a poet of his
own age.
Although long a resident of the United States, living most of
the time in New York, Zeitlin still feels and sees himself an
expatriate from two different climates of his normal creativity:
Polish Jewry that is no more, and the Land of Israel now in its
early era of existence and development.
Aaron Zeitlin is in our day one of the few traditionalist poets
who continue the bilingual creativity in Jewish literature, writing
in both Hebrew and Yiddish, as was the case with the most impor­
tant writers in the second half of the 19th century and at the
beginning of this century. He made his first literary attempts in
both tongues when still in his early teens. Soon after World War I
he was one of several outstanding young poets, among them the
bilingual Uri Zvi Greenberg, the ultramodernist Melekh Ravitch
and the extreme revolutionary Peretz Markish, all of whom gave
poetic expression to their dreams, feelings, disappointments and
hopes. While most of that generation of poets pinned their hopes
on the revolution and on progress in general, Zeitlin belonged to
the minority for whom Jewish salvation through national libera­
tion was their transcendent yearning. As one of the poets who had
come to the fore immediately after World War I, he disavowed
the revolutionary spirit which the poets of that generation took
great pains to express.
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