VOICES WITHIN THE ARK: The Modern Jewish Poets by Howard & Anthony Rudolf--Eds. Schwartz
Kirkus Star

VOICES WITHIN THE ARK: The Modern Jewish Poets

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

An epic undertaking--350 modern (20th-century) Jewish poets from 40 countries writing in 22 languages (all translated into English). But bulk isn't everything here; a more than glancing intelligence has gone into the compiling and introducing of each of the book's sections, with Ruth R. Wisse's overview of modern Yiddish poetry and Edouard Roditi's essay on European-Jewish verse models of lucid canopying. Broken into congregations--Israeli, Yiddish, English (US Britain, Canada), and European (French, German, Dutch, Hungarian, Rumanian, Polish, Judezmo, Serbo-Croatian, Russian, Turkish)--the various poetries yield distinct and different characteristics. Israeli poetry has, not surprisingly, a strong Biblical thematic imprint (the poets, after all, are there, on the historical spot). Poems by modern American Jewish poets (the editors have chosen writers and poems whose subjects are overtly Jewish)--with the large exception of Charles Reznikoff--exhibit the ambivalence and shakiness endemic to American Jews, writers or no. South American Jewish poets--from Argentina, from Chile--put forth a muscular presence, a readiness (for repression?). But no group displays more poetic variety and experimental verve than the Yiddishists do--or did. Primarily in Ruth Whitman's sterling translations, the poems of Jacob Glatstein, Chaim Grade, Moishe Leib Halpern, Rachel Korn, Moshe Kulbak, Zishe Landau, Itzik Manger, Malech Ravitch, Abraham Sutskever, and Aaron Zeitlin--many of whom made up the influential ""DJ Yunge"" group--twine and climb with the helical essences of both Jewishness and poem-making; that legacy of literary innovation and sophistication is matched only perhaps by three other poets represented here--Paul Celan, Edmund Jabes, Reznikoff--and all the more precious for having been clapped into silence by a dying tongue. If this anthology does anything, it honors by comparison these brilliant authors; among its many capacities and gifts, this is surely the most moving. An essential volume for anyone with even the smallest interest in the subject.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 1980
Publisher: Pushcart Press