Page 49 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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G OLD SM ITH /Y IDD ISH POETRY AND AMERICAN JEWISH IDENTITY
41
GLANZ-LEYELESS
T h e ch ief theore tic ian o f the
Inzikhists,
and a m ajor voice in
American Yiddish poetry, was Aaron Glanz (1889-1966) whose
pen name was A. Leyeless. Even befo re the organ ization o f the
Inzikhist
g roup , Leyeless had published a volume o f expe rim en ta l
poems with the telling title
Labyrinth.
In the 1930’s he crea ted the
persona o f Fabius Lind, the poe t’s
alter ego,
whose very name
symbolized the m a tu re , intellectual, sensitive and activist, m od ­
e rn Yiddish poet, alive to both the m ode rn world and his trad i­
tional cu lture . What is especially exciting abou t Leyeless’ poetry is
the fact tha t it was always on the move — p rob ing feeling, expe ri­
menting. It is the poetry o f the m ode rn Jew in quest o f the totality
o f modern ity while loyal to his people, his cu lture , his faith and
himself. Leyeless’ poems reco rd the en tire adven tu re o f Yiddish
lite ra tu re in twentieth cen tury America and they reflect and pon ­
d e r the odyssey o f the Yiddish language the world over in m od ­
e rn times.
Our poem of a sevenfold heaven,
Our poem
nourished with the dew and poverty of every land,
Can it not once again irrigate every soil?
Behold, we have gone far beyond A, B, and C.
Our poem
a blade of grass, a little flower yesterday,
Is now a rare and lovely growth.
(“T su Aykh D ikhter Yidishe”)
I see but the sparkle of one dot
Yiddish. It is my mission, passion and meaning of life.
I can pour out a barrel of logic to the last drop
To water the blossom of love to the word-weaving
Of a wandering nation. Every wind and breeze
Is enough to turn its forest into a clump of woodchips.
Who cares? Word-weaving rings the most enchanting of sounds:
I am.
(“Amerike un Ik h ”)
Jacob Glatstein (1896-1971), an early colleague o f Leyeless, was
the twentieth cen tury poet o f Juda ism
par excellence.
T h e r e was no
aspect o f m ode rn Jewish experience th a t d id no t find expression
in his deeply though t poems. Glatstein b rough t to Yiddish poetry
complete self-identification with Juda ism and the Jewish people,
humanitarianism , wisdom, h um o r and genius. His work is a cul­