Page 188 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Halpern focus the poem so specifically and intimately upon the
“you” of the reader, while generalizing the powerful object of
desire as
zey
— “they” and
layt
(people)? He has written a number
of poems characterizing or addressed to a specific woman or
beloved. Here, though, Halpern deliberately emphasizes the
nature of desire as ambivalent by drawing you and me, reader
and poet, into the same impossible situation. The dilemma of a
lover dominated and invaded by what he wants is as harrowing as
the dilemma of the immigrant, whose longing for a home leaves
him all the more homeless. Reader and poet are both susceptible
to this dilemma, and must join in a collaborative effort to resist
the inevitable. The poet and the reader each transcends his pow­
erlessness to resist the appetite for the unattainable, the longed
for, only by writing and reading the poem. Sixty-four years after
its publication, Halpern’s poem makes us see anew familiar feel­
ings. The double-bind of desire shows us in Halpern’s startling
poems, that although, as the adage says, home may be where the
heart is, the heart has no home.