Page 95 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

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GOLDSMITH / LEVICK’S QUEST
8 7
These Jews of Warsaw.
And blessed be
Every Jewish bullet
That pierced
The heart of a Nazi.
But doubly blessed be
Forever blessed be
The placard of six short words.
To the Ten Commandments an Eleventh they added:
Arise, Jews, don’t succumb to despair!
(Gvald, Yidn, Zayt Zikh Nit Meyaesh)
After the Holocaust, the poet bade the Prophet Isaiah to reap­
pear and fulfill his vision of the end of days.
Dream your dream again, great prophet,
Appear again amid the crumbling wall,
Pay no heed that he who calls is weary
He’s crying for the lad who lies here burned.
A wolf will live together with a lamb,
The lad will lead them by the hand.
But now, oh prophet, comfort the mother
Who cries and mourns her lad who lies here burned.
The mother climbs out of the bunker
With cradling arms turned to you.
Oh prophet, bring the end of days,
Restore to life the lad who lies here burned.
(Un A Yingele Vet Zey Firn)
Leivick’s poetry reveals the influences of medieval Jewish eth­
ics, mysticism and asceticism. These concerns were very much
alive in the Jewish community of the Russia of his youth. Echoes
of the mystical parables of the hasidic master, Rabbi Nahman of
Bratzlav, of the ethical concerns of the Mussar or ethical move­
ment of Rabbi Israel Salanter, and of the historical and national­
ist concerns of the Yiddish poet and revolutionary, Abraham
Walt Lyessin (1872-1938), are very much in evidence in Leivick’s
work. There is also an affinity between Leivick’s preoccupation
with suffering and the pathos and moral seriousness of the great
Russian writers of the nineteenth century. Leivick successfully
linked the ambiance of the Russian writers with the Yiddish liter­
ary tradition. In his own person, “he succeeded in forging a rich