Page 159 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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SZEINTUCH /CHAIM GRADE AS POET OF THE HOLOCAUST
151
poems like “Herbst in Gertn” (Autumn in the Garden)10 and
a lullaby like “Shlof-lid”1 through autobiographical poems like
“Der Ukrainer Porush” (The Ukrainian Recluse),12 nature
poems like “Shpurn in Shney” (Traces in Snow ),13 nightmarish
poems like “Koshmar” (N ightmare),14 and lyrical verse like “In
Velfishe T seyn” (In Wolfish T ee th ) .15
POETIC MESSAGE
Grade’s poem, “In Tol fun di Beyner” (In the Valley o f the
Bones), from the cycle “Yekhezkel” (Ezekiel),16 was compre­
hended in the Vilna Ghetto to be the poet’s message to those
who awaited certain dea th .17 Also, his poem “Geveyn fun
Doyres” (Cry o f the Generations)18 was recited time and again
in Auschwitz by Jews who believed that this poem was written
expressly for them .19 Indeed, both the cycle “Yekhezkel”
(1936)
and “Geveyn fun Doyres”
(1936)
deal with the generations o f
Jews doomed to death and silence by virtue o f the power o f
evil which victimizes those who rely not on physical power but
on dreams for a better world and a better humanity.20 The
prophet is dead, and the poet is mute. The prevailing mood
o f these poems is that o f nation driven into a blind alley, facing
exile and premature violent death:
Eynikel, a Yid daraf kenen geyn tsu der akede,
kenen geyn un shvaygen
. . . 21
[Grandchild, a Jew must know how to go to the akedah,
know how to go and remain silent . . . ]
10. Included for the first time in his first book o f poetry,
Yo
(Vilna, 1936;
1937). Reprinted in
Dojrois
(New York, YKUF, 1945), pp. 52-56.
11.
Farvoksene Vegn,
pp. 47-48; written in 1936.
12. Idem, pp. 22-28.
13. Idem, pp. 13-14; written in 1937.
14. Included for the first time in
Yo-,
reprinted in
Dojrois,
p. 26.
15. Idem; idem, p. 25.
16. Idem; idem, pp. 65-76.
17. As reported by Szmerke Kaczerginski in his memoir written in Paris in
1947; “Grunt Motivn in der Dikhtung fun Chaim Grade,”
Smerke
Kaczerginski Ondenk-Bukh
(Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 281-283.
18. “Geveyn fun Doyres” was written in Vilna in 1936;
see
Dojrois,
pp. 133-138.
19.
Smerke Kaczerginski Ondenk-Bukh,
pp. 287-288. The poem was written in
1936, and the whole cycle in the years 1935-36. See
Yo,
pp. 65-82.
20. Cf. “Geveyn fun Doyres,”
Farvoksene Veqn,
p. 40.
21. Idem.