Page 180 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
O ’er whose headsoars the Torah’sgrand glory while ’neath it crawls
bondage?
Content are your brethren, their sigh is the sigh o f contentment;
In the mud o f their heritage basking, they pray with their lips fo r
The Redeemer, but fear in their hearts lest he verily come and
Bestir them. Arise, tear the mask from the Galut’sJerusalem . . .
I f your soul abhors it, O youth, then flee, do not linger!8
In one o f his most macabre poems, “On Hanukkah Night,”
Shneour has Judah Maccabee, the symbol o f Jewish independ­
ence and revolt, return to earth to slay the Old Woman who sym­
bolizes the spirit o fJewish life in the Exile with its resignation and
martyrdom. In
Hidden Tablets,
too, Shneour rejects the excessive
spirituality, asceticism and docility o f the Exile which he traces to
the biblical prophets and their followers. In these and similar
poems, he takes up themes which have been pivotal in modern
Hebrew literature ever since its beginnings in the Haskalah
movement.
BASIC LOYALTY
Shneour’scall to abandon the Exile and return to Eretz Yisrael
is coupled with a positive revaluation o f the inner core o f essential
Judaism. For all his iconoclasm and youthful rebellion, Shneour
never wandered as far from the ancestral hearth as his conscious
posing might have suggested. It was in fact his deepJewish loyalty
and ethical identification with the sufferings and aspirations o f
his people in the past and present that gave authenticity and
immediacy to his magnificent Hebrew idiom.
Yes, I am proud that I am a grandson
To this people who created the book
Verses and rhymes that will roll, that have rolled
Like broadening waves since binding began
* *
*
So there is reason to suffer, i f you are a grandson
To the people who created this book.
For a miracle has occurred here fo r certain!
8
“Vilna,” translated by Harry H. Fein in his
Titans o f Hebrew Verse
(Boston,
1936), p. 192.