Page 113 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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a b a k o f f
— I
sra e l
fro s
romance of the white man Tom with Lalari, the daughter of an
Indian chieftain, is the focus of his tale. I t serves as a backdrop
for the poet's account of the decline of the Ind ian tribe. Indian
folklore and songs are skillfully interwoven in this epic poem
laden with yearning and mystical overtones.
Another aspect of the American experience is described in
“Gold,” which captures the spirit of the California gold rush.
Goaded by the drive for wealth, Ezra Lunt leaves the stability of
his New England farm and his marriage for the new life of San
Francisco. Here he acquires a plot of land but the gold rush
engulfs him and leads ultimately to his downfall. His stormy love
affair with Lola, whom he met on the trek across the West, also
ends in personal tragedy. Considerable description and vivid
scenes of heroism and despair are incorporated in this epic poem
condemning the materialistic values and the craving for wealth
which characterized 19th-century America.
Efros is among the Hebrew poets who has given poignant ex-
pression to the Jewish tragedy. Among the first to visit the sur-
vivors of the concentration camps, he recorded his moving experi-
ences in a prose account, which appeared in the Hebrew
and was later published in Yiddish under the title,
Heimlose Yidn
(Homeless Jews, Buenos Aires, 1947). His poetic response to
Jewish suffering and to the callousness of the world transcends
morbid sentimentality. Like Bialik before him, Efros hurls a pow-
erful indictment to the peoples of the world who refused to open
their gates to the remnants of European Jewry. These are poems
of denunciation and bitter invective. Addressing the victims of the
Nazi bestiality, Efros exhorts them not to remain in their quiet
resting places bu t to continue to feed our anger and scorn. For no
longer can a generation that witnessed the savage holocaust be
content with the contemplation of beauty and love.
The tragedy of European Jewry led Efros to proclaim anew the
vision of redemption and renewal in the land of Israel. The ter-
rible destruction visited upon our people must serve as a bridge
to a new beginning. He sought consolation in a destiny that had
made us a “generation that sprang from the shrouds to royal
apparel.” Following his visit to Israel during the War of Inde-
pendence, he sang of the glories of Jerusalem and of Jewish
heroism. He who gave us biting poems of protest against Jewish
suffering extolled the realities of the new State and of a regenerated
people. Exceptionally incisive is his long dramatic poem Z
(I Remember Thee), which gives an account of the part
played by an American Jewish girl and her friends during
Israel’s struggle for independence.
The philosopher in Efros was always concerned with finding a
nexus between world events and the Jewish fate. His poems