Page 20 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 32

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12
JEW IS H BOOK ANNUAL
yearning, with the lodestone of Jewish historical experience, with
Zion herself:
Silent, I waited. Her ear was deaf.
She lay as if asleep under the cover of the sheet.
I lifted it gently. Naked she lay.
A nd I passed my hand over her delicate skin.
“Speak,” I implored, “say but one word.
For you are Zion, yet seem so murderous?
My life burns away here, and I entreat.”
She gave me no answer, no movement, no stir.
In the vision of the seeming corpse of Zion, the poet has
reached the nadir of horror and of hopelessness. Henceforth there
will be a slow torturous, difficult and groping attempt to tran ­
scend the egocentered existence and to reconstruct the elements
of dialogue, so that God, Land, and People can function in some
kind of mutuality. The remainder of the poem is conducted in
a quieter, more contemplative vein:
I shall yet rebuild you, and you shall be rebuilt,
O Jerusalem, my city.
I shall yet join my shoulders to the toilers on the wall.
Perish my path if my song betrays you!
From out of all silences my soul longs for you!
Much have I sickened in your foul air.
The days were wounds, horror the nights,
Let me go to seek some healing for my heart.
You shall yet be rebuilt, but not today, not now.
He moves about the country saddened bu t also impressed, by
the toil and the sacrifice of the new Jewish settlers in the Jezreel
Valley, by “the pang of creation, the inhuman pain.” Working
with the new settlers on the Land, he is content with his lowly
lot. He is, he says, “like a stone of the field at the edge of the
path .” And he hears the growth of the grain at the coming of
spring. The earth is alive for him, and he feels himself kn it to
it in what can only be described as the bonds of love. And now,
amid the dark toil and suffering, a child is brought to birth, the
new Jew. T he poet is not the father, nevertheless the new b irth
gives him joy; it “redeems him.” The dead Land has come to
life and the Jewish People is being reborn.