Page 148 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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JEW ISH BOOK ANNUAL
b read (“Biographical Note”). However, he buttresses him self
against Time with a series o f contrasting values: “T h e
orphan
in
restau ran ts” is welcomed by “a
fatherly
station” (“A T rave lle r’s
Diary”); if the “b read is
sour”
“the foun tain tha t springs fo rth is
sweet
” (“Biographical Note”); “this
frosty
existence, this Job-like
dejection” is coun terac ted by a “glimmer o f
spring
’ (“Gramercy
Park”).
CONTRASTS AND POLARITIES
Preil’s fascination with contrasts can actually be discerned al­
ready in his first published poems (in Yiddish!), best rep resen ted
by “Contrast M o tif ’
(Lieder,
p. 22). But later, the concept o f
appa ren t polarities, which upon closer scrutiny m ight tu rn into
similarities (and vice versa), becomes one o f the central concerns
o f his poetry, both thematically and structurally. This is clearly
demonstrated by the titles o f his volumes as well as by his use o f
oxymorons, such as “frosty fire ,” “the motion o f repose ,” o r “an
icy fire.” I t seems tha t Preil is d isturbed by the contradictory
oppositions o f here and there, now and then , youth and old age,
spring and au tum n , in short, by all the gradua l changes effected
by
Time.
Many o f his poems simply strive towards the happy
medium and invite “all kinds o f con tra ries” to “the green valley o f
equilibrium” (“Cities Within Me”). In some o f his poems this
medium is symbolized by the colors “gray” o r “silver,” the m iddle
point on the emotional continuum o f the color spectrum ; in
others, explicit reference is made to “the appeasem en t,” o r “the
moderate square .”
This climate o f m ode ra tion and appeasem en t doubtlessly
brings to m ind Wordsworth’s idea o f “Recollection in T ranqu il­
ity” (“tranquility” o r “peace” being one o f Preil’s favored ideals).
It would seem tha t Preil’s ma ture poetry attempts to deliver itself
from the stormy w ea ther o f its youth. Its progression is a constan t
effo rt towards the obliteration o f sharp edges, towards “ce lebra t­
ing the feast o f the b lu rring o f boundaries” (“T he G arden o f
Statues”). One could say tha t Preil’s poetic creativity is a my th­
making endeavor. O u t o f the contrasts and polarities o f the
human existence in T ime and Place he is trying to shape “a
reconciliation o f discordants,” o r a “fusion o f con trad ictions.”
This effo rt is actually what Coleridge described as the impulse