Page 54 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

Basic HTML Version

I began to rot as though dead
When martyrs’ voices from Poland said
To me: Live!
* * *
“Jew” and “Stop” cant unite, never will.
The meaning ofJew is anti-end.
All the ages go forth one Sabbath to receive,
One song is sung by doubters and those who believe:
L’khu N ’ra n ’nah Ladonai.
After the calm
From a catacomb
As dark as night,
A Jew will emerge with
“Let there be light!”
(“Dialog Tsvishn Mir un Mayn Atsves”)
A no the r major, un ique voice in American Yiddish poe try was
Chaim G rade (1910-1982), who arrived in the Un ited States a f te r
the Eu ropean Holocaust. An accomplished novelist, whose works
vividly d ep ic t th e world o f th e comm on folk o f his native
L ithuan ia and o f the studen ts o f the L ithuan ian
poetry G rade wrote while in the Un ited States dea lt p rim arily
with the Holocaust and the reb ir th o f Israel. In classical lines,
rem in iscen t o f the Hebrew poetry o f Chaim Nachm an Bialik,
G rade cap tu red the p ro fo u n d reactions o f a m ode rn Jew to these
two crucial events o f m ode rn Jewish history. He saw the mission
and pu rpose o f his life and work in the reco rd ing fo r posterity o f
the travail and glory o f his people.
Though a stranger in the world, my life has purpose.
I live so that I may revive the dead.
(“Geheyme Gest”)
Despite the fact th a t Yiddish lite ra tu re in America was w ritten
in a dec lining language , it created g rea t values. “T h e Yiddish
writers h e re ,” writes Glatstein, “raised Yiddish to the h ighest
heights, as if to p ro tec t themselves from shallowness an d escape