Page 18 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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the smell of the street at night
of the hedge in flower.
Like Solomon,
I have married and married the speech of strangers;
none are like you, Shulamite.
I will go into the ghettos; the sunlight
for only an hour or two at noon
on the pavement here is enough for me;
the smell of the fields in this street
for only a day or two in spring
is enough for me.
This peace is enough for me;
let the heathen rage.
They will take away
our cakes and delicacies,
the cheerful greetings, the hours of pleasant speech, the
and give us back
the sight of our eyes and our silent thoughts;
they will take away our groans and sighs
and give us
merely breath.
Breathe deeply:
how good and sweet the air is.
The fifth poem
New Year’s
is as long as these four taken
together and too long to be quoted here. But I think I have
quoted enough to indicate what both Jew and non-Jew can get
from his poems and miss if they don’t. His ‘Jewish’ poems are,
in any case, only a part of his work. In my estimation, they
deserve to be collected into a single volume and made readily
accessible. That no one in the Jewish community has yet seen
fit to do so speaks for itself.
Despite such recognition from Americans as he has received,
Charles Reznikoff’s work has not as yet ‘made’ the textbooks