Page 38 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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I ’ll stand, beside the rolled-up fence with tears
of gratitude in my eyes. I ’ll hold a puny
pinched tomato in my open hand,
I ’ll hold it to my lips. Blessed art Thou,
King of tomatoes, King of grapefruit . ..
Now I brood, I grimace, how quickly the day goes,
how fu ll it is of sunshine, and wind, how many
smells there are, how gorgeous is the distant
sound of dogs, and engines
Blessed art Thou,
Lord of the falling leaf, Lord of the rhubarb,
Lord of the roving cat, Lord of the cloud.
Blessed art Thou oh grapefruit King of the
universe .. .
Although S tern’s characteristic salt-and-pepper hum o r contin­
ues to season even this powerful, intensely serious evocation,
unquestionably and perhaps in spite o f himself, his sensitivity
and response to his own spiritual growth, have continued to
push him closer to the acknowledgement o f “deity as g rape ­
fru it,” ultimately promising to merge the image with the man.
Rightfully noted by o ther poets for his tenderness, intimacy and
vision, Stern is one o f the distinctive spokespersons o f o u r age;
a man who continues to scour his psyche until it delivers him,
cleansed and willing, to the transformative powers o f a muse
who can no longer stand in the wings o f yesterday’s playback.
T he num inous is very real for him, and holiness has become
the illusion from which he draws his inspiration.
Geoffrey Hartman has no problems with spiritual self-
consciousness. Unabashedly, like a born-again Jew, he shoots
from the hip, delivering his poems with a surety and tru th that
rips through Biblical lore, rewriting it on his own terms, in his
own voice, which is both earthy and prophetic.
Akiba’s Children
(1978) is a collection o f impassioned poems
by an impassioned poet. Words leap from the page in p ro ­
nouncements that are strong and direct. Images are unmistak-
eably referential.