Page 64 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 29

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e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
Darkly the sea carries its weight of stillness
The grey moon returned, has a khamsin halo to wear
At sea, the ship is gathering speed, already
The lights have been turned on out there.
The evening is heavy, wait now. Do not go.
Look now: the ship that was ours has set sail,
And we, like children are left on shore, with our sadness,
Our faces resting on the rail.
The heart, too, has set sail, like a driven leaf,
It has thrown in its lot with the waves, to roam as they roam,
Or to glisten above them in curl of foam.
When we need not savor it alone.
We are sad now, but how excellent is this grief
Translated by H ilda Auerbach
Asked why she was so fond of the sonnet form, she replied:
This is a very easy form, and a very difficult form. . . . There
is no other poem like the sonnet which can be destroyed by
one empty or superfluous word. Braque once said that the
form puts the contents to the test; this is true also of the
sonnet. Whoever reads my sonnets knows that I have made
use of the classical form for absolutely non-classical purposes,
and that I have exploited all the possible variants of this form,
including the unrhymed sonnet. . . . In the sonnet I feel free
and the question of vogue is to me of the least interest.
Leah Goldberg believed in the absolute identity of content
with form. One cannot express content except through form. Con-
solidation of form helps us to resist the process of disintegration
and to preserve certain contents. After all, poetry is not just an
outcry; it is an attempt to give an “objective” form to things which
the poet wants to say.
This approach to poetry is clearly demonstrated in Leah Gold-
berg’s poems dealing with the catastrophe of European Jewry. She
deals with the horrendous tragedy by the method of the indirect
approach and of the extremely “objective” form. In the poems of
the volume
Mi-Beti ha-Yashan
(see above) her tone is subdued,
and the pictures she paints are all taken from her spirit’s eye, from
her Lithuanian childhood and youth.
But the poems were written in 1944, the year before the con-
elusion of World War II, at a time when the great majority of
East European Jewry was no more and the pictures in the poet’s
mind were but dim images of a distant dream. Yet she states this