Page 105 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

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9 7
evening begins, with emergence of stars,
I ’m illumined with peace by the light of my star.
At midnight, when sorrow envelops the stars,
I know that my fate is decreed in the stars.
And then, before dawn, with the parting of stars,
There rains upon me an explosion of stars
That hurls me aside until my own star
Covers me with itself and a Voice calls: Your star
Implores kindness for you from the Master of Stars.
I lie ’neath the cover and hear my own star
Conveying my name to the Master of Stars.
Although Leivick’s poetry is more concerned with human
morality and destiny than with God, the sense of God’s presence
has an important place in his poems. Leivick often compared Yid­
dish poetry to traditional Jewish prayer. “It seems to me,” he said,
“that Yiddish poetry today is undoubtedly still an emanantion of
our entire millennial mentality and essentially a religious experi­
ence. . . . I often feel when I write a poem as if I were praying. I
feel the poem itself as a prayer. . . . These are moments when
your entire approach to yourself, to your quest to convey your
own life and the most secret aspect of yourself, seeks to be
revealed and heard. At such moments you sense a religious exal­
tation like that of a Jew in prayer.”17
Leivick’s work was essentially an affirmation of the sacredness
of human life and the durability of the human spirit.
Life today is not sacred.
Indeed, it’s trampled underfoot.
Whoever can steps on it
With feet, with gun or knife.
And yet, oh heart, don’t lose hope.
May the faith flourish in my poem
That those who are truly noble
Kneel before every human limb.
(Di Balade fun Denver Sanatoriyum)
17 H. Leivick,
Eseyen un Redes,
New York, 1963, p. 47.