Page 102 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

Basic HTML Version

9 4
In disgrace my spirit mourns
In a night o f dreams:
A friend angrily rips
My poems to shreds
And hurls the word “Jargon” at me.
To him my poems are tainted.
He predicts my death
In New York, Tel Aviv and Haifa.
I speak to him, recall
Our fathers, ancestors.
But he insists it’s still “Jargon.”
“The angel o f death owns you now.
Go to your eternal rest.
Yiddish is dead.”
He promises me the funeral
Of a celebrated victim.
How happy I am! I burst with joy!
I am a rich poet indeed!
In Moscow I hang from a rope,
In New York and Tel Aviv on a friend’s sense o f justice.
(In Farshemung)
In his play
The Poet Has Gone Blind
(1934), about the Yiddish
poet Morris Rosenfeld (1862-1923), Leivick dealt with the aban­
donment of Yiddish in America. The poem “Ecstatically, In
Trance Supreme!” treats the same theme.
A fellow poet spoke to me and said:
Let us all compose the last poem.
We’ll place it in a coffin and carry it
Through streets on which the American Jew resides.
With blue cloth we’ll cover it
Or perhaps wrap it in simple white,
In the white of the pages of all our books
Which lie in cellars
food for mice,
And in the red of the pages of our purged poets
Who wither in dungeons or by the North Sea,
Or who may be dead to the glory of killers,
Spoil for every Cain who feigns an innocent. . . .
And anyone who has ever written a one-line poem
Will raise the bedecked coffin in his hand
And, parading through our broadest avenues,