Page 145 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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SAGIV-FELDMAN / GABRIEL PREIL
1 3 5
The world unfolds before me like an ancient parchment,
while I count letters and iotas as a man counts
moments of life at the gate of death.
The world unfolds before me like an ancient parchment,
but I come to renew the crescent moon and f i l l it in,
and donate of my fire to the dying sun-flames.
The world unfolds before me like an ancient parchment,
while I infuse it with the marrow of mind and bone
and engrave my name in purple-black verse.
The world unfolds before me like an ancient parchment,
but I know that poets of all generations
carried their fluttering hearts in their open palms,
and bitterly, like bereaved eagles, the nightingales screamed.
This poem exhibits Romantic characteristics not only in style
and diction, but in theme as well. It clearly defines the poet as a
redeemer o f a declining universe. T he voice o f the poetic “p e r ­
sona” unhesitatingly asserts itself by direct statements (I count, I
come, I infuse, I know); yet it is in indirect statement tha t the
poet’s artistic intention is more fully realized. Playing on the
semantic ambiguity o f the Hebrew word
sofer
(the meaning of
which has shifted in modern times from “scribe” to “au tho r”) the
poem actually implies a rejection o f the Classical o rder. The
Hebrew scribe’s mimetic activity is replaced here by a Promethean
endeavour to rekindle the dying luminaries through the m odern
writer’s creativity.
The significance o f this poem, however, transcends its specific
thematic and metaphoric aspects. Placed as it is at the very open ­
ing o f the first volume, it is obviously meant to convey a personal
artistic “credo .” T h a t this is true can be proved by a synchronic
and diachronic examination. T he book itself is organized along
thematic-generic lines (ra ther than along biographical lines, for
instance). For a closing statement, Preil chose the app rop ria te
poem “A Will,” in which he declares tha t “I f the world is lost and
wiped out in raging fire / Let me first sing o f Man’s glory and the
sunny open spaces.” This clearly complements the heroic “man­
ifesto” o f “Notes on an Ancient Parchment.” By the same token,
each o f the following volumes opens with parallel though diver­
gent accounts o f the poetic function. Nevertheless, Romantic
pathos never shows up again. The poet seems to withdraw from