Page 50 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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42
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
m ination o f all th a t is adm irab le in m ode rn Yiddish verse. His
poems abou t Rabbi Nachman o f Bratzlav, his odes to Yiddish,
and his poems o f the Holocaust, o f Israel rebo rn , and o f Am er i­
can Jewry, a re am ong the m ajor docum en ts o f the Jew ish peo ­
p le’s tribu lation and transcendence in the m od e rn world.
I cannot gaze at your radiant countenance, wondrous illumination.
I bow before you and awe grips me.
I hear a trumpet call throughout the earth.
You are no longer a cipher.
You are a vision of all beginnings and endings.
I close my eyes, lest you blind me.
Who are you
God, nation, land
Or fiery Bible?
Why does the East blaze so in 1948?
Why do the stars shoot like fiery whips
?
How can I, a child of chastisement, interpret this all?
Fire-vision, I stand before you
As before a burning bush.
With trembling I utter:
You transpired, you exist.
* * *
Eretz Yisrael, you are the Bible-come-true of a little schoolboy
Above whose head all has been fulfilled.
Sing, Jewish daughters, in the vineyards: all has been fulfilled!
From early childhood he was shown signs and wonders.
His teacher Daniel never stopped
Reciting triumphant verses
But he never understood a word.
Now he sees the light of day.
It really did not take very long
For the hour and its aftermath to arrive.
(“Bist Geshen, Bist G evo rn”)
SEGAL’S THEMES
J . I. Segal (1896-1959) and A a ron Zeitlin (1898-1973) were,
like Glatstein, poets whose scope o f activity was de f ined by th e ir
Jewishness. Segal was obsessed with Jew ish un iqueness, with the
shtetl,
and with Hasidism. He was the poet o f long ing fo r the past