Page 37 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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things. Th e latter quality saves the confessional from becom ing
mawkish or solipsistic. Unfailingly, the re ad e r is given access to
the meditating mind caught in the act o f contemplating the ob­
jec ts o f its musings, so the poetic act is sh ared and the re ad e r is
able to identify with the cap tured moment. Distilling a lifetime o f
experience, her poetry , including Driving Home (1971) and The
Price of God (1976), comprehends her sources in Jew ish realm s o f
being, past and presen t.
Th e wunderkind o f the 1960’s was Leon ard Cohen who moved
from the relative obscurity as serious poet to international star­
dom as one o f pop-cu lture ’s most illustrious librettists and p e r­
form ers . Th is turn in his career followed the launching o f his
vocation, beg inn ing in 1956 w i th L ^ Us Compare Mythologies, and
the subsequent publication o f The Spice Box o fEarth (1961), Flowers
fo r Hitler (1964) and Parasites of Heaven (1966). Th e se collections
made him immensely popu lar with the younger generation ou t­
selling other books o f poetry by a wide margin. In his poetry
Cohen has direct access to Jew ish experience , originating in the
impress o f family history, then more generally, as exemplification
o f the su f fe re r o f hum an depravation .
T h e form and content o f his poem s depar ts from the concerns
o f an earlier generation . They depict instead the contemporary
acquaintance with the hitherto subterranean appetites for d ru g s
and sex; the hipster dar ing replacing old-fash ioned angst. Cohen
no longer castigates, but coolly reports on the newly-explored
territory in arre sting but discrete im ages only loosely bound by
semantic sense. Intensely personal, the poetic image dom inates
the lines, which su gge st in their fragm entation that the world and
the poet’s perceiving mind consist o f unre lated sensations, dimly
understood , yet vivid in their color and shape.
Seymour Mayne (born 1944) return s to the d eeper poetic trad i­
tionalism o f Klein, to a richer, more clearly phrased association
with Jew ish learn ing and kinship. His education in T a lm u d
To rah and Herzlia H igh School in Montreal has prov ided him
with the language o f Ju d a ic re ference which pervades his poetry.
In a striking change with the past, however, Mayne’s prim ary
relationship to the Jew ish world lies in his direct re sponse to the
presence o f Israe l, its peop le, land scape , history. Mayne’s work