Page 49 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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KABAKOFF — AMONG RECENT HEBREW BOOKS
37
shade, story and description, and a large variety of characters.
Members of the old and young generation, Arab and Yemenite,
are all par t of the changing scene. One of the most moving stories
in this collection,
Israel Zvi
, dealing with an orphan who comes to
Palestine and dies there in an accident, has been translated into
English. More of Shenberg’s work ought to be made known to
English readers.
Each year the city of Tel Aviv presents prizes in memory of
Bialik for the outstanding contributions to
belles-lettres
and Jewish
scientific research. Last year the prize for
belles-lettres
went to
Yaakov Fichman, the celebrated poet and essayist, for his book
of poetry
Pe'at Sadeh
(Corner of a Field), pu-blished by Schocken.
In presenting this prize to Fichman, the Yishuv paid him a debt
long overdue because for many years he has been one of the most
active of our writers. His new book contains his poetry written
in recent years and reveals the influence of Palestine both in
theme and
neginah
(accent). Fichman’s poetry has ripeness and
variety. The book opens with a series of quiet sonnets and with
* poems tha t contain descriptions of Palestine scenes. Fichman is
at his best in these poems which have a musicality of their own.
He also has a series of poems entitled
The Cry of Our Days
, which
deal with the horrors of Jewish destruction and reaction to the
suffering of Warsaw and Treblinka. Fichman is bitter in these
poems and bids future generations to ponder the depths of man’s
inhumanity. The destruction in Europe makes him pray all the
more for the new life in Palestine. The poet also has a group of
ballads in which various historical figures are depicted. Shlomo
Molcho, Berenice and the Besht are the central personalities in
this section and each of them suffers from the sorrow of unfulfill-
ment. This prize-winning volume is permeated with the spirit of
Palestine and is the work of a poet of lyrical sensitivity.
One of the most dynamic of our new Palestinian poets today is
S. Shalom, who has given us many poems tha t give poignant ex-
pression to the feelings of the Jew in these times. He has only
recently collected his latest poems in a new volume bearing the
symbolic title of
I lan Bakut
(Tree of Weeping). Last year he gave
us a dramatic poem entitled
Shabbat Haolam
(World Sabbath),
published by Yavneh and based on the life of Elisha Ben Abuyah.
Some years ago, Milton Steinberg devoted a novel,
As a Driven
Leaf
, to the same theme and interpreted Ben Abuyah’s life as a
quest for religious certainty. In his poem, S. Shalom describes the
conflict between the worlds of Elisha and his pupil Rabbi Meir
and tells of the efforts of the master to destroy the religious bonds
which held his people. We have in• this poem a mixture of the
mystical and the real. The Sabbath is the main symbol in the