Page 30 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
come ayul see an uninstructed spirit,
New to the instrument, practicing to be
A woman or a man who builds like a lofty song
The one great thing imagined by us impossible:
. . .
a Dome
Of the recollected soul, rigged with mysterious
knots
Beneath the heavy wheel and rain-
Mill of the sexual hurricane, to be its capital;
Or else it is an elaborate sheltering house . ..
Wherein there wanders, like a walking music
through the rooms,
The suave singers of the lost story of love
The poem suggests that we have absented self from soul by
delivering the responsibility o f the ineffable to keepers o f the
word who have carefully guarded it from its experience o f ho­
liness by cloaking it in the fictive, mimetic o r imaginative. We
have settled for representation o f the experience ra th e r than
the experience itself. Consequently, holiness has become the
s tu ff poetry is about, ra the r than the poem itself.
If, indeed, we are in a state o f cultural crisis in which one
o f the dysfunctional side-effects is a spiritual estrangem en t in
which poetry — “columns o f cool letters” — has inadvertently
become victimized and relegated to the category o f a lost art,
it seems not only significant but imperative that we tu rn to the
recent harvest o f works by contemporary Jewish poets, includ­
ing Hollander and Grossman, for an app rop ria te rebuttal and
possible redefinition. In a world o f shifting and often unfocused
priorities, illumination o f language th rough the eloquence and
persuasive impact o f verbal expression may be the only means
for achieving spiritual salvation. In
Blue Wine and Other Poems
,
Hollander writes:
When some unexpected visitor
Drops in and sees those bottles of blue wine, and
does not ask
At the time what they mean, he may take some drops
home with him
hi the clear cups oj his own eye, to see that he
will see.3
Hollander, John,
Blue Wine and Other Poems
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Uni­
versity Press, 1979).