Page 25 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 32

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K ABAKO FF / ABRAHAM SHLONSKY
17
merited with the dramatic form, was entitled
Devai
(Pain, 1924).
Highly charged with symbolism, it embodied the poet’s reac­
tion to postwar disillusionment and to the ravages of the Rus­
sian revolution. T he opening lines set the tone: “In the be­
ginning was the Pain and the Pain was with God. And God
created man, in the image of Pain He created him .” Diseased
mankind is pictured as futilely seeking a salvation which is
not forthcoming. Shlonsky was to re tu rn again and again to a
symbolic treatment of world chaos and the desperation and
estrangement of modern man.
I f the world is drunken and torn —
I am its wild song
(shir
) !
I f the world is a mad dog —
I am the spittle dripping from its lips,
I am the spittle
(rir
) !
I am a being torn with longings
In another incarnation,
The incarnation of Man.
Translated by Herbert Bronstein
For the most part, Shlonsky’s poems are couched in the first
person, evidencing his deep personal involvement with his
themes. At times he cloaks himself in the mask of a clown or
a fool in order to voice the skepticism which gnaws at his soul.
In a world tha t had lost its stability and had shattered all
illusions, he often yearned to re tu rn to the sheltered past of
his childhood and to the haven of his parents. After spending
some time in Paris, he wrote of the alienation of urban life
and depicted the mood of ennui and loneliness engendered by
the city. Confronted by the soaring buildings of the metrop­
olis, he spoke of the “square fear” and the “rectangular heights”
which accompanied him on his journey to the “end of the
night.” His unique symbolism introduced many new nuances
into the poetry of his time.
The very names of Shlonsky’s books, such as
Ba-Galgal
(In
the Wheel, 1927),
Avne Bohu
(Stones of Emptiness, 1934),
Shire Ha-Mapolet Ve-Ha-Piyyus
(Songs of Collapse and Con­
ciliation, 1938) and
A l M ilait
(On the Fulness, 1947), bear