Page 138 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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128
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
(an adherent of the so-called Jewish Enlightenment), and was
taught privately secular subjects and languages (Russian, Ger­
man) . He was influenced intellectually by his father, but also
more obliquely and yet more keenly by his gentle, sensitive,
deeply religious mother. He published his first poem at the age
of fifteen in Peretz’s
Yiddishe B ibliotek .
Between the years 1899 and 1908 he lived in several cities, but
mainly in Warsaw. He came to America in 1908 and was ac­
claimed here too, as he had been in Eastern Europe, as the poet
of the people, of the masses. But his heart was in Eastern Europe
and he returned to the working people who were caught up on
a wave of revolutionary idealism in Czarist Russia. By this time
he was already their most popular and fondest writer, and he
was quite worthy of their attachment, since none had depicted—
in song and story—their strivings, sorrows and hopes for a better
world as he did, nor with such touching sympathy.
In 1914 he visited America again and settled here permanently.
His creative power did not abate, and various editions of his
works were printed. In 1926 the fiftieth anniversary of his birth
was celebrated throughout the Jewish world. He continued to
write until his death in New York in 1953.
Reisen’s work was translated in various languages but unfortu­
nately there is little of it in English rendition. The best (but,
alas, too few) are to be found in the anthologies edited by Irving
Howe and Eliezer Greenberg:
A Treasury of Yiddish Stories
and
A Treasury of Yiddish Poetry.