Page 185 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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folk wisdom of generations, and a native intelligence whose at­
traction lies in complete naturalness and the total absence of
One should throw off his shoes
And wash his feet
As i f entering a temple
To be at the holy scanty meal
the weekdays a
o f offerings
To the festival o f flowering
On the barrenness of generations in the steppes.
What can be more festive
Than seeing young sons and daughters,
Foreigners pursued
Like birds from cold countries,
Seated here as brothers and sisters,
Without father or mother,
Seated like couples on their wedding night
A t tables laden with bread
They reaped themselves from fields
Where not long ago
The hard, stony barrenness
Slept a thousand years ? . . .
(From “Fun Heylikn Moltsayt”)
Papiernikov’s unique voice in Yiddish poetry derives from
an unusual merging of his personal odyssey with the aspirations
and experiences of the pioneers and laborers of Eretz Yisrael.
He is “the poet who reveals himself in chiseled verse with a
haunting, questioning melody of his own. In every verse and
line one hears and sees Papiernikov himself . . . But his indi­
viduality is always collective, intertwined with social, national
and universal surroundings.”11
You’re beautiful and cruel, new home of mine,
Perhaps more cruel than beautiful.
Instead of a tender, faithful mother
You’re a strict father, harder than stone.
I, your singer, bear your cruelty too.
I carry it even in my song
Which transports the windy heat of the desert
With echoes of the steppe, with thirst and desire . . .
10. D. Sfard,
M it Zikh un mit Eygene,
Tel Aviv, 1984, p. 409.
11. J.Z. Shargel,
Fun Onheyb On,
Tel Aviv, 1977, p. 21.