Page 186 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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I, your singer, have been wounded, too,
By your nettles
Yet I ’ve linked my destiny to yours
Because, like a tree, from you my roots draw power
To withstand and overcome your caprices
For which one must be ready as fo r battle
In order to prove that which has been proved by
A generation on the march to rebirth.
(From “Akhzoryesdik S h e y n . . .”)
Although Papiernikov was influenced by the modern Hebrew
and Yiddish poet, Uri Zvi Greenberg and by Russian poets such
as Yesenin, his work clearly has a close affinity with the work
of the celebrated Yiddish poet Abraham Reisen (1876-1953).
Papiernikov, like Reisen, often strikes an elegaic tone which is
resolved by an unusual aphoristic insight that summarizes the
poem.12 Like Reisen, the folk quality of much of Papiernikov’s
verse helped bring masses of new readers to Yiddish poetry.13
The tone of Papiernikov’s most popular poem, set to his own
melody, is very reminiscent of much of Reisen’s work:
It may well be that I build castles in the air,
It may well be that my God does not exist,
In dreams I see clearly, in dreams I feel better,
In dreams the skies are bluer indeed.
It may be that I ’ll never reach my goal,
It may be that my ship will never reach shore,
I care not about whether I reach them,
I care only about the trip on a sunny road.
(“Zol Zayn”)
Bialik once wrote about Jewish children at play beneath the
little green trees of the East European landscape. After the
Holocaust, Papiernikov wrote a poem in the style of Bialik which
has become almost a hymn of the Holocaust. In it he laments
the little Jewish children who no longer play beneath the little
12. Cf. J. Glatstein,
M it Mayne Fartogbikher,
Tel Aviv, 1963, p. 55.
13. Cf. A. Lis,
In Mekhitse Fun Shafer,
Tel Aviv, 1978, p. 104f.