Page 15 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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and whom jailers strike with bunches of keys, with revolver
butts;
to them and to you
in this place and in every place
safety;
upon Israel and upon all who live
as the sparrows of the streets
under the cornices of the houses of others,
and as rabbits
in the fields of strangers
on the grace of the seasons
and what the gleaners leave in the corners;
you children of the wind
birds
that feed on the tree of knowledge
in this place and in every place,
to them and to you
a living;
upon Israel
and upon their children and upon all the children of their
children
in this place and in every place,
to them and to you
shalom.
Long before it was over, I found myself reciting the words along
with the rabbi until he came to the last word. Surely it was
not the word Shalom. Shalom was a great word, but it was not
the proper word for this place in the composition. What was the
word that fitted in here? My memory told me it was the word
life.
A quiet rather than a colorful ending of a lovely poem.
Neither rabbi nor congregation, as I ascertained later, were
aware that what they were listening to, except for that last word,
was a composition by Charles Reznikoff, included in his
Separate
Way
in 1936, included again in The New Directions volume of
his selected poems
By The Waters of Manhattn
in 1962, and
finally in the two volumes of his
Complete Poems
brought out
after his death in 1976 by the Black Sparrow Press in Santa
Barbara.
HINDUS / JEWISH AMERICAN POETRY
7