Page 67 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 31

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action to the war years and their toll of Jewish suffering and
Halkin continued to examine man’s predicament and loss of
faith in his second major collection of poems,
Ma ’avar Jabb ok
(Grossing the Jabbok, 1965). Taking his cue from the symbolism
of his biblical title, Halkin depicts his inner struggles and his
search for aesthetic values in a unique blending of lyricism and
intellectualism. He merges his thoughts with changing nature,
particularly that of Nova Scotia for which he has a special
penchant. The theme of love, to which Halkin devoted one of
his finest groups of sonnets in his earlier collection, is here deep־
ened and viewed from the vantage point of old age. Halkin often
achieves a prayerful tone, baring his soul in revelatory language.
This volume brought him the Kovner Hebrew Poetry Award of
the Jewish Book Council in 1966. A few years later, on the oc-
casion of his 70th birthday, he received the prestigious Bialik
Award for his cumulative contributions to Hebrew
The central character in Halkin’s first novel
Yehiel Hahagri ,
first published in 1929 and later reprinted in Israel, parallels
that of Yohai, the subject of one of his poem cycles. Like Yohai,
Yehiel is torn between mystical religious yearning and erotic
fulfillment. His struggles are those of a young immigrant in New
York, who remains detached from his surroundings. The scion of
a long line of Hasidic rabbis, he wavers between the type of
Habad tradition and religious faith espoused by Rabbi Dov and
his own mundane inclinations. However, his inner world col-
lapses when he fails to find solace in religion or in eros.
The stream-of-consciousness technique which Halkin utilized
in his first novel was also applied to a broader canvas in his
(Towards a Crisis), first published in Israel in 1945
and reprinted a quarter-century later. The first in a projected
trilogy, this novel is an ambitious effort to depict the inner life
of both the older and younger generations of American Jews.
The subtitle of the novel, “Winter: 1929,” bespeaks the period
of economic and social disruption which gripped America during
the depression years. Yet, it is the inner crisis in the lives of his