Page 51 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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GOLDSMITH / YIDDISH POETRY AND AMERICAN JEWISH IDENTITY
43
an d h o p e fo r th e fu tu re . “In Segal’s po em s ,” w rites Jacob
Glatstein, “one hears the sounds o f p raye r and learn ing . . . one
finds the days and nights o f a diligent poet whose num e rous
poems convey all the crying and g roan ing o f o u r m o the r tongue
and its close re la tionsh ip to the warm th , com fort and teachings o f
o u r sacred books.”7
My comrades have all flown in airplanes
High up in the sky;
In one breath they measured
The broad blue dome of heaven.
They took breakfast in Montreal
And had coffee in New York.
How nice, luxurious,
Wonderful, amazing.
Yet I would forfeit that pleasure,
I f I could but sit on rainy days
Beside the window and think of
Old inns by the wayside.
A coach fu ll of
Hasidim
Arrived late at an inn
On an ordinary Wednesday an ordinary inn
Became a palace.
At a long table
The little congregation revealed itself.
It was as if throughout the night
They were in the vestibule of Paradise.
All the teachings and tales
Were hard to recall
But there remained in the depths of my heart
A great, holy, and eternal longing . . .
(“A Yid”)
Speaking in God’s name, J . I. Segal, among o th e r Yiddish
poets, app rop r ia ted fo r himself the role o f the p rophe t, visionary
and seer in Jewish trad ition . “Poetry must be p rophe tic ,”writes R.
G. Collingwood. “T h e artist must prophesy , no t in the sense tha t
he foretells things to come bu t in the sense tha t he tells his
audience, at the risk o f the ir displeasure, the secrets o f the ir own
7 Jacob Glatstein,
In Tokh Genumen, Eseyen 1948-1956,
New York, 1956, p. 191.