Page 54 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 7 (1948-1949)

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
42
this scorn which leads the poet to cast a particularly grim poem
“A camp in the Prussian forest” — in quatrains whose movement
is light and trivial and whose rhyme is almost jingling:
“I paint the star I sawed from
yellow pine —
And plant the sign
In soil that does not yet refuse
Its usual Jews
Their first asylum . .
and so on. One does not mean that Mr. Jarrell is trivial in his
attitude toward the dead Jews or that he is in any way cheapening
the tragedy of their loss. Far from it. I t is the complacently
irresponsible spectators, who are being parodied in that sneering
metric, that neat rhyme. “Its usual Jews” : how much could be
said about the ironies involved in that beautifully chosen adjective!
Poems about Jews, about peace and war and betrayal and
victory, about God and death and women and hatred of oppres-
sion are found in
I cannot see theirfaces and keep silent
by Leibel
Bergman (St. Paul, Prometheus Press, ’47).
The thunder of the
grass
by Aaron Kramer (N. Y., International, ’48) is a powerful
poetic narrative of the suicide of almost a hundred Jewish girls
in a Warsaw boarding school about to be dishonored by Nazi
officers. Impressive verse inspired by the suffering and hope of
Jewry in a war-torn world is included in
Trumpet in adversity
,
and other poems by Louis Israel Newman (N. Y., Renascence
Press, ’47). This is the fourth volume of Dr. Newman’s verse and
includes most of his poetry from the three previous collections plus
poetry written since 1929. His favorite themes are those which
are drawn from the lore and life of the Jews and include impas-
sioned pleas for justice for them. Poems which reflect the thoughts
of the soldier are brought together in
Shredsfrom an old sun helmet
by Major W. Goldstein (N. Y., Greenberg, ’47). They represent
verse by a young officer while under fire, on leave, just resting
behind the lines, or stationed in some out-of-the-way army
post.
Poetry in praise of working men and women and their struggles
to obtain justice is not new but coming from the prolific and gifted
pen of Rabbi Alter Abelson it is refreshing. His
Songs of labor
(N. Y., Paebar, ’47) is the third collection of his verse.
In some of the verse of his
Pencil in the air
(N. Y., Doubleday,
’47) the late Samuel Hoffenstein speaks of his Jewish origin, but
as though he had been converted to Christianity — so much so
that his pious mother would have been horrified at the apparent