Page 81 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 4

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Such is the background of the present Jewish book. And now
let us turn to the book itself.
The flower of Yiddish literature is Jewish poetry. Through the
sensitive Jewish soul of modern Jewish poets the feelings of every
spiritually awakened Jew is voiced. But during the past year
Jewish poetry lay hidden in the daily Jewish press and in jour-
nals. Few Yiddish poetry books were issued in 1944.
The quantity is accidental, as the appearance of Jewish poetic
works is not dependent upon buyers. These are probably non-
existent — not only for Yiddish poetry, but for poetry in general.
The visit in America of the Soviet poet Izik Feffer occasioned
the distribution of two of his volumes of poetry. In his second
collection
Homeland
(Pub. “Icor,” with illustrations by Marc
Chagall, 128 pp.) he depicts the moods, agitations and longings of
the Soviet Jew and non-Jew in their present wartime aspects.
The finest attributes of Feffer’s poetry, in general, his wealth of
language and nuances of motif are characteristic of this book
of song.
H. Rosenblatt is one of the pioneers of modern Yiddish poetry.
He is an
American
poet, notwithstanding the fact that the pious
Ukrainian theme plays so important a part in his poems. But the
Prairie
is as much a part of him as the
Steppe.
Closer still to
him is the Bible. Of the two new books of poetry — his
Adam's
Children
and
My Bright Journey
(Pub. L. M. Stein, Chicago,
126 and 170 pp. with illustrations by Todros Geller), the first
takes for its motif the
Book of Genesis
and the second symbolizes
the whole essence of Rosenblatt’s poetry in its Jewishness, homey-
ness and Americanism.
During both World Wars, American Jewish poetry was greatly
enhanced by many new poets, among whom A. Katz is especially
distinguished by his restrained lyricism and his exuberant chil-
dren’s poetry. His book,
Once Upon a Time
, (96 pp.) tells a story
not of the past but of
today.
I t is the story of Jewish and human
sorrow, the lamentation of the Jewish soul and its despair. But
through the sorrow can be heard the voice of Jewish faith, purified
through pain and suffering.
Russian and German literature has had a great influence upon
Jewish literature. The most important Russian and German poems
were translated into Yiddish. Abraham* Eisen now took upon
himself the mission of infusing into Jewish poetry the finest
treasures of English poetry. In 1944 he enriched Jewish poetry
with
The Sonnets of William Shakespeare
(176 pp.) adding explan-
atory notes for each sonnet.
The achievement of Jewish poetry — romances and stories —
STARKMAN ----AMONG THE RECENT YIDDISH BOOKS
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