Page 158 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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152
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
“And there is the only son/The remnant/In the world.”
There has been a breach with a primeval unity, a separation
from his “homeland,” from his parents, particularly his mother.
And he is alone, a sole vestige. This is indeed nostalgia. And it is a
nostalgia that expresses itself in various images, both personal
and national. The beginning of
Min ha-Hakhlil u-Min ha-Kahol
is
replete with this sort of nostalgia, although there, as in some of his
later poetry written after
Rehovot Ha-Nahar
(e.g.
“Mi-Nofim Rehoke
Mahut,”
published in
Luah Ha-Arez,
1952 and 1953; and “
Le-Se’if
Sela Eitam" ibid,
1967 and 1968), it is expressed in terms o f an
idyllic landscape, in a distinction between the country and the city,
between a man’s true home and his temporary abode. The true
home is the country, the origin o f all tranquillity, a reflection o f a
perfect heavenly model on earth. The temporary abode is the
city, the place of anxiety and alienation, where strife reigns. Man,
as exemplified by the poet, whilst living in this “hostel,” longs to
return to his true home. So, similarly, does the son, torn, willingly
or forcibly, from the bosom of his mother, long for her presence.
Here, without the mother, in the “valley” (section 3, p. 217-“Man
Dies in the Valley”) the son dies: — “And his mother is not then in
the valley!/-Night descends on her son.” These are universal and
personal images, but the “national” image expresses itself in
terms of a similar longing. Unity must be re-established; the voice
of Sinai must be noted. The journey of the Jew, from his origins in
Abraham’s “stock,” is like the journey of a man, looking again to
the desired source. After all the hectic suffering: “Until he comes
to the night of nights of the cross and remembers the night of the
covenant, /And the word of God to his ancient father and to his
seed until the end. /The axes of nations have not succeeded in
cutting off his roots. /Again he returns along the tracks o f the
terrible trail to the Euphrates at dawn” (p. 7). All this long,
eventful and terrible journey seems to be made with one end in
view — return to the start, to Abraham, the Euphrates river, to
Ur. Is this not an effective parallel with man’s personal journey
and the particular expression of it by the narrator-poet?
KURZWEIL’S EVALUATION
The critic Baruch Kurzweil, throughout his writing on
Greenberg, has insisted on the unity of theme. As in his discussion