Page 71 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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ers replace the poe t’s presen t reality o f warm winters and
scorched summ er fields. T h e vocabulary o f this stanza reflects
the traditional longing fo r a distant territory, the tone set by
the significant noun, “exile”: “yearned ,” “m ou rn fu l,” “tem p ted ,”
“dream ed .” The synonymic reiterations o f words indicating sad­
ness which depict the Russian landscape, can be read as p ro ­
jections o f the speaker’s own moods. His sense o f longing is
rende red even more paradoxical by the fulsome descriptions
o f the new, Palestinian, landscape: “glorious palm ,” “blossoming
winter,” “beauty” o f na tu re
(y ifat ha-teva
) implying vividness and
color, against the ra th e r d rea ry “sad ,” “d a rk ,” “gloomy,”
“m ou rn fu l” and “deserts o f snow”
(midberei sheleg)
that delineate
the past in Russia. T h e word “dese rt” in itself bears the most
powerful intimation o f contrast, for “dese rt” signifies not only
the Middle Eastern landscape but underlies the en tire pio­
neering venture. Shimoni’s “poet” subverts this implication by
his dream o f deserts o f snow. Moreover, the “poet” provides
a new and personal connotation o f “dese rt,” substituting his in­
dividual desire (snow) for the collective aspiration. The histor­
ical experience o f collective loss o f a place and its preservation
in the collective memory is personalized by both Lamdan and
Shimoni in a single loss and a single memory, this personal­
ization o r inward vision one o f the hallmarks o f Romantic po­
etry. In fact, one o f the major differences in the employment
o f the conventions o f na tu re description between the 20th cen­
tury poets and their 18th- and 19th-century forebears is in the
insertion o f a lyric spokesman in place o f a well-known figure
from a classical source. T h e modern “I” reflects an individual
memory and personal nostalgia, while the biblical figures select­
ed by the maskilic poets rep resen t a collective vision.
The nostalgia expressed by Lamdan and Shimoni is coun t­
ered in each case by an immediate re tu rn to the orthodoxy o f
love o f the Holy Land, clarifying for their readers that the ab­
erration o f reminiscence has been overcome by trium phan t re ­
ality.11 Both these poets have, however, revealed the difficulty
1 1 . /
have plucked my roots from your fecund soil
And should the hot wind wither them here