Page 137 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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BUTOVSKY / IRVING LAYTON: THE INVENTION OF THE SELF
129
who dish out the familiar idealistic crap
always make the murderous crowd
slobber
preparatory to prodding them with the sticks
and pouring gasoline on their cadavers
Now, however, the poet must no longer lend himself to such
artful sentimentality. Instead
The up-to-date poet
besides labouring at his craft
should be a dead shot
Do you hear me Old Man?
a dead shot
sending the bullet
winging like a finished stanza
straight between the eyes
That’s the new poetry
minted June 1967
in Tel Aviv and Sinai
I thought
I should let you know
GU ILT FOR HOLOCAUST
I f the sight o f an Israel willing to take upon itself the full
responsibility for its own survival induces in Layton a sense o f
national pride, and gives rise to these and o ther such poems
which celebrate strength , heroism, and independence, they have
been overshadowed by the chief ideological bu rden o f the
poems since the late 1960s: Christianity’s guilt for the destruc­
tion o f the European Jews. In countless poems, buttressed by
tough-m inded introductory statements to his recent collections,
he assumes the stance o f prosecutor dem anding admission and
confession from the Christian world for its culpability in fu r ­
nishing the theological rationale which, in the course o f Eu ro ­
pean history, dehumanized the Jews and ultimately led to the
death camps. To his long-standing view o f Christianity as per-
verters o f hum an sexuality and repressive o f natural vitality,
he now added the direct responsibility for the Holocaust.