Page 77 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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ABRAM SON /TWO HOMELANDS
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great deal on descriptions o f nature , either real o r fantasized,
in the trad ition o f the Haskalah poetry o f utopian longing. The
survivors’ poetry replaces the landscape with landmarks irrev­
ocably associated with a real, remembered , in fact unforgettable,
past. Instead o f being a bright idyllic memory, somewhat dec­
o ra ted by fantasy and ideas inherited from Romanticism, the
poetry o f survivors intensifies the sense o f loss and displacement
by means o f a close adherence to remembered reality. Nature,
always defaced by smokestacks and railway lines, holds little nos­
talgic charm fo r them , and the pastoral and neo-Romantic fan­
tasies are finally laid to rest.
The Romanticism o f the imm igrant who was not a victim and
the anti-Romanticism o f the survivor are exemplified respective­
ly in both Amichai’s poems already quoted, and in a num ber
o f poems by Dan Pagis (1930, Bukovina — 1986, Israel). The
recollection o f Pagis and o ther poets writing o f the Holocaust
often tu rns less on na tu re than on the towns and villages which
epitomized the ho rro r and in which the past is itself concretized.
Coming to the cindered stillness,
To the stones and plaster of walls,
To the village lying dead and headless
Where the trembling ash still falls,
And among the thistles murmurs still linger
While overhead memory's clouds
Wake and rise, heavy with anger
Suddenly hate’s falcon dives,
Spreading wings like a cross to view,
And its talons, blades of sun,
Your foosteps pursue.
(tr.
Dov
Vardi)17
Elements o f na tu re poetry still inhabit this poem: stillness, vil­
lage, clouds, the falcon, the sun. Taken on their own these
nouns evoke the stillness o f a summ er’s day in some abandoned
village and with them, the quasi-pastoral subtext is preserved.
Add the adjectives and the ru ra l serenity is eternally destroyed:
“cindered ,” “dead ,” “heavy” and the nouns “ange r,” “ha te” and
“blades.” T rembling ash and thistles complete the picture o f
a European landscape forever contam inated by evil but still
compulsively longed for.
17. In Birman, Abraham,
Modern Hebrew Poetry.
London, New York, Toronto:
Abelard-Schuman, 1968, pp. 288-289.