Page 76 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

Basic HTML Version

68
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
tinction between the heat, the
hamsin
which signifies ra th e r than
defines the presen t landscape, and the coolness o f snow, rain,
forests and rivers o f the lost European home. T h e nostalgia
o f Amichai and his Eu ropean-born contemporaries is perhaps
the more poignan t for their having lost their birthplaces
th rough wartime destruction.
HOLOCAUST ECHOES
The gentle nostalgia o f the poets o f the T h ird Aliyah, and
o f Leah Goldberg and Amichai seems indu lgen t when com­
pared to the more agonized poetic memories o f Holocaust su r­
vivors. For them memory o f the past cannot be elegiac since
this suggests an affection for something tha t is irrevocably
tainted, rende ring perverse the act o f loving recall itself. In re ­
cent years Amichai has been criticized for his literary nostalgia
for certain features o f the diaspora past, evidenced in his poem,
“Jews in the Land o f Israel”:
We forget where we’ve come from. Our diaspora names
Give us away and bring to mind
Memories o f flowers, fru it and medieval towns,
Metals, knights turned to stone, roses,
Dissipated perfumes, precious stones, much red,
Crafts that have disappeared from the world
. 16
In his review o f the poem Moshe Dor claimed tha t the names,
ra th e r than implying the charm o f gothic Europe , incorporate
d read fu l memories and anti-romantic elements. He indirectly
raises the issue o f the morality o f nostalgia which has been con­
fron ted by such critics as Yaoz-Kest, as a factor o f Israeli life.
T h e poetry o f survivors reveals tha t they have as much difficulty
in rejecting the ir birthplaces, as do o the r poets. T h e ir poetry
is no less biradical than that o f the others bu t the ir memories
o f birthplaces are overlaid with a screen o f bitter experience
that rende rs na tu re itself evil. Whereas the aliyah poetry dealt
with landscape associated with childhood affection and pleasure,
the survivor’s poetry demonizes the past landscape which be­
comes a m e tapho r o r metonymy fo r the events that have taken
place in it. We have seen tha t the poetry o f nostalgia rests a
16. Amichai, Yehuda, “Yehudim be-Eretz Yisrael,” in
Veto A t Menat li-Zkor,
Je­
rusalem: Schocken, 1975, p. 13.