Page 17 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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What was the glory?
To choose the Lord:
that is, the bread of affliction and freedom.
These lines belong to his
Notes on the Spring Holidays.
He has
what he calls other
Meditations on the Fall and Winter Holidays
just as meaningful and appropriate.
The truth is that Reznikoff’s memory as an individual seems,
from all indications at the present time, more likely to be pre-
served by those few to whom poetry in the English language is
dear than by his fellow-Jews, to whom and for whom he never-
theless so often speaks. “I am the tongue of you / Tied in your
mouths in mine it begins to be loosen’d.” The line is Whit-
man’s, but the sentiment could be Reznikoff’s. Reznikoff’s
memory is served best now by such people as the publisher of
the Black Sparrow Press, which promises to put everything
by Reznikoff back into print, and by such anthologists as Hayden
Carruth who, in his excellent collection
The Voice That Is Great
Within Us,
includes eight poems by Reznikoff, five of which
interestingly treat Jewish themes:
Let other people come as streams
that overflow a valley
and leave dead bodies, uprooted trees and fields of sand;
we Jews are as the dew
on every blade of grass,
trodden under foot today
and here tomorrow morning.
I will write songs against you,
enemies of my people; I will pelt you
with the winged seeds of the dandelion;
I will marshal against you
the fireflies of the dusk.
The Hebrew of your poets, Zion,
is like oil upon a burn,
cool as oil;
after work,