Page 88 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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82
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
poetry. In the ballads of
Khaver Leben
(Comrade Life, 1938),
he still prided himself on being a class conscious, belligerent
poet. He wove a ring of sonnets about Soviet Russia, the mother­
land he loved with an unabating love. Then came the Stalin-
Hitler Pact of 1939 that brought him sobering disillusionment.
In the volume
Die Yorshim Fun Der Erd
(The Inheritors of the
Earth, 1941), his enchantment with Soviet Russia was replaced
by an ardent affection for the Jewish people. He felt that destruc­
tive forces had overwhelmed the creative revolutionary forces
which had once promised salvation to Adam’s children. Now he
found comfort in the Bible teaching that the wicked would ultima­
tely be destroyed and that those who put their trust in God would
inherit the earth. In his poem
Yiddish
(1950), he drew his self-
portrait. From the alien idols he had formerly served so faithfully,
he escaped back to his own fold. Thereafter he would guard his
own vineyard; he would seek his inspiration in the Hebrew pro­
phets; he would be the guardian of the Yiddish tongue and
heritage.
Autobiographical Novels in Verse
There followed four autobiographical novels in verse, each
illuminating under various disguises the poet’s inner conflicts.
Der Farmishpeter Dor
(The Doomed Generation, 1954), portrayed
a hero who was dissappointed with the Communist ideal.
Der
Gott Fun Zorn
(The God of Wrath, 1957) showed the heretic
Elisha Ben Abuya as vacillating between Hebraism and Hellenism,
seeking a synthesis between Greek beauty and Jewish ethics
under Roman power. But Apollo, Shaddai and Jupiter were
mutually contradictory forces that could not be reconciled. The
heretic, who opposed the revolt of Bar Kochba, could not witness
his people’s martyrdom at the hands of the conquering Romans
without repenting and returning to them in their hour of affliction.
Der Gebentshter Dor
(The Blessed Generation, 1962) reverted to
Feinberg’s own generation, which matured in the decade between
the abortive Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War I. In
the hero Lulik Adler, the poet relived the events of his early years,
the Black Hundreds pogrom in Kiev in 1905, the feverish weeks
of liberation in 1917, the visions and emotional ecstasy of his
youthful striving for the laurels of a Russian lyricist, his struggle
for survival in communities ravaged by Denikin and Petlura,
his escape from chaos, epidemics, massacres and the horror
of Odessa in 1920, his unsuccessful attempt to adjust to the hard
realities of the re-Promised Land where the heroic pioneers were
shepherds and kibbutz tractorists.
Finding himself mute and useless among the Jewish colonists,
Feinberg’s hero resumed his odyssey, experienced Parisian loves