Page 79 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 31

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75
STEINBACH / A. M. KLEIN
And strike them down.” Burlesque and derision are the brushes
with which Klein paints Hitler, the “artist” :
H e drew a lin e , i t was n o t crooked , so
H e th ough t th a t he was M iche lange lo!
Yes, w i th a con tin en t as easel, he
W o u ld y e t show v ic iou s v ir tu o s i ty ,
W o u ld y e t ach ieve the opu s of his d ream ,
T h e classic p a in t in g , m as terp iece sup rem e:
T h e R e ich s ‘La s t Su pp e r ’ ( ou t of s to len p o ts )
W ith qu is ling s s ix , and six iscariots!
Poem s
contains three long poems, all in an exultant tone:
“The Psalter of Avram Haktani,” “A Voice Was Heard in
Ramah,” and “Yehuda Halevi, His Pilgrimage.” Dr. E. K. Brown
reviewed this volume in the
U n ivers ity of T o ro n to Q ua r ter ly
(April 1945) “as the near-best work of Canadian poetry for the
year.” Nathan Glatstein, eminent Yiddish poet and critic, wrote
in the
Y idd ish er Kam fer ,
“Klein is the poet for whom our He-
brew and Yiddish literatures have been waiting as for a brother;
he is truly a poet of both.”
“Superb” is not a hyperbolic adjective to describe the seven-
page poem “In Reb Solomon Warshawer” as well as the thirty-six
psalms which articulate the Jew’s attitude and relationship to
his God: a strange alloy of humility and self-abasement, inter-
mingled with pride and even defiance. Reb Levi Yitschok’s debate
with God in
H a th N o t A Jew
is continued in these psalms. The
Jew accepts God’s decrees, even when they cause pain and tribu-
lation; but
D ea r God! W ere these heaven ly scourges rea lly neces-
sary?
We can almost hear the tristful cry of the rabbi in “Rabbi
Yom-Tob of Mayence Petitions His God” :
L e t there be ligh t
/
In th e tw o agon ies tha t are m y eyes, I A n d in the dungeon of my
heart, a doo r
/
Unbarred . D escend , O L o rd and s p e a k ”
And yet,
even in his extremity the rabbi can exclaim:
B lessed th is day;
th is day on wh ich w e sha ll
/
M ake g lo r iou s H is name.
T h e R o c k in g Cha ir
poems (1947), written during World War
2, represent Klein’s third period. They are perhaps less pas-
sionate, but more forceful than those of his two previous peri-
ods. All deal with Canadian themes, and critics hailed the volume
as “a landmark in the development of Canadian letters.” The
T im e s L ite ra ry S u p p lem en t
wrote, “Mr. Klein’s
T h e R o c k in g