Page 178 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
“what,”
the fun vos,
but in the “how,” the
vi azoy
a poem was made;
not in the purpose or message of the poem, but in the poetic tech­
nique itself. Zishe Landau wrote, in his Introduction to a late
Antologye
of poems, which included three by Halpern, that all the
poets included there, all poets of
di Yunge,
shared the common
aim,
“di dikhtung an unfa r zikh,”6
poetry in and of itself, for its own
sake. Halpern was both of
di Yunge
and separate from them, for
the focus on style at the expense of substance allowed for a kind
of preciousness, which Greenberg calls “stillness” and contrasts to
Halpern’s “noisy, open, resounding” aesthetics.7
POETIC CREDO
Halpern differed from others of
di Yunge
in that he served as a
bridge or link between the old-fashioned Yiddish poetry of state­
ment and the newer aesthetics. Unlike Landau, who in the same
Introduction, dismissed the Labor poets categorically, calling
Dovid E d e lsh ta t’s poems clumsy and naive, and Morris
Rosenfeld’s, sentimental and overstated, Halpern maintained
some degree of respect and sympathy for this older style and its
aims. For example, Halpern both praises and condemns the
talents of Rosenfeld in his review of Rosenfeld’s trendy lyrical ef­
forts in
Dos bukhfun libe
(The book of love), 1915.8 Halpern casti­
gates the Labor poet’s efforts to write delicate love poems: “The
truth is, I would not quote one poem from Rosenfeld’s
Book of
love,
because I owe too much to Mother Love.”9At the same time,
Halpern evaluates Rosenfeld’s achievement fairly. He acknowl­
edges that the poet was, indeed, “the best ‘protest-manifesto-and
agitation poet,”’10 whose verse shows the strengths of childlike
simplicity and appropriate diction, directness, and subtlety.11
Halpern criticizes Rosenfeld for his weakness in description and
lyricism, which insufficiently represent his “poetic soul,” and for
succumbing to the temptations of the “cheap marketwoman
Moyshe-Leyb Halpern Arbeter Ring Branch, 1942), p. 20.
6 Zishe Landau, “Introduction,”.Anfo/og)>£. (New York: Farlag Yidish, 1919), p.
vi.
7 Greenberg,
In ram,
p. 22.
8 Moyshe-Leyb Halpern, “Der Alter un der Nayer Morris Rosenfeld,”
Literatur
unLeben,
3 (March, 1915) pp. 100-112.
9 Halpern, “Rosenfeld,” p. 107.
10 Halpern, “Rosenfeld,” p. 107.
11 Halpern, “Rosenfeld,” p. 103.