Page 77 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 31

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73
STEINBACH / A. M. KLEIN
ture—evil, cruelty, the terror of inhumanity, corruption, sadism—
need not exercise permanent hegemony; they are not absolutes.
True, individual man is a minuscule fragment in himself, a
fragile microcosm. But he is also part of a macrocosm that is
Humanity, with a potential to cultivate loftier patterns to ele-
vate and unite the races of mankind. Nietzsche envisioned the
realization of this potential through the emergence of the Super-
man; Klein through the ascendance of the godlike man:
M an w i l l don his god lin ess once m o re .
. .
M an loya l to th e human b ro th erhood ,
T o hum an b ro th erh ood , and the god ly reign.
Klein’s was a vision of unity that transpenetrated beyond Canada,
beyond America, beyond Safed in Israel (to which he journeys
in his
T h e Second Scroll)
—beyond all lands and boundaries
that separate and divide men and nations. He sought also to
fathom the profundities within the continent of his inmost self,
hoping thereby better to understand the profundities in his
brother-man.
II
We turn to a brief glance at Klein’s published works.
H a th N o t A Jew
obviously derives its title from Shylock’s agon-
izing cry in Act 2 of Shakespeare’s
T h e M erch an t of Venice:
“I
am a Jew! Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, di-
mensions, affections, passions? . . . If you prick us do we not
bleed?” Although the book was published in 1940, most of the
poems were written in the late 20’s and the early 30’s, following
riots in Palestine. In selecting this title, Klein undoubtedly iden-
tified with the agony and torment experienced by the Jews in
Palestine. This would accord with his declaration, “As a na-
tion we were forced to suffer eighteen centuries of stunned amaze-
ment before we realized that God helps those who help them-
selves.”
In his first poem in the collection, “Ave Atque Vale,” Klein
reveals that the Jewish heritage is the trellis upon which his
verse will be structured. He states that he has heard the call of
the sages of Sura and Pumbeditha, and he mentions by name