Page 168 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
every means in his power the establishment o f a secure asy­
lum.39
The now committed Jewish activist poet did not become nar­
rowly chauvinistic in her zeal — though her poetry was newly
charged with the prophetic urgency o f the call for return to
Palestine: “ I ope your graves, my people, saith the Lord, And I
shall place you living in your land” she writes in “The New Eze­
kiel.” And the opening poem in the 1882 volume
Songs o f a Semite
is “Rosh Hashanah 5643” ; comparison with the earlier “Rosh
Hashanah,” written in 1877, reveals how far she has come. The
elegiac tone is gone and the close o f the earlier poem with its ref­
erence to the shofar, “Salute with solemn trumpets the New
Year” has been modulated to a higher key, into the prophetic call,
“Blow, Israel, the sacred cornet. Call /Back to thy courts whatever
faint heart that /With thine ancestral blood, thy need craves all.”
Yet the penultimate stanza adds:
In two divided streams the exiles part,
One rolling homeward to its ancient source,
One rushing sunward with fresh will, new heart.
By each the truth is spread, the law unfurled,
Each separate soul contains the nation’sforce,
And both embrace the world.
Included in this volume are two inspired poems: “The Crowing
o f the Red Cock” was surely a poetic response to the Madame
Ragozin episode, for it is a stinging excoriation o f the Russian
pogroms; “The Banner o f theJew” recalls the ancient Maccabean
heroes as models for the present. She also includes a poem called
“ In Exile” — a poetic response to a letter that had been sent to her
friend Michael Heilprin who was active in helping refugees.
Emma’s poem is a charming bucolic description o f the twilight o f
one day in the life o f a refugee family from Russia that was now
happily farming in Texas.
Emma had at last found her own voice. For the most part she is
done with the high diction o f her early poems; she is more eco­
nomical, more direct, more in command o f her considerable gift
— in the words o f the heroine o f “The Dance to Death,” she too
might have said, “ I am all Israel’s now — till this cloud pass, /1
have no thought, no passion, no desire, Save for my people.”
39 Morris Schappes, p. 82.