A TREASURY OF YIDDISH POETRY by Irving & Eliezer Greenberg--Eds. Howe


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Two other previously published anthologies (Whitman and Cooperman) concentrated on Yiddish poetry in America; here poetry from Europe, America and Israel is included. As stated in the excellent introduction, ""The course of development which in other poetries takes centuries is for Yiddish packed into a few decades."" The editors' schematization would seem strained if it were not for their convincing demonstration that Yiddish poetry is ""boxed into a particular destiny."" Historical curt rents determined the stance of the Yiddish poet who ""from birth to death. . . was an engaged writer"" bearing the demands of Jewish culture, encounter and conflict. Detachment and a pure aestheticism were impossible. Therefore this is poetry of a special context, for a special audience. The editors admit translation is difficult because of ""the weight of historical and cultural assumptions. . . a full throated and unashamed lyricism."" The poems at first glance are disappointing--often stiffly utilitarian, clanking with an alien pulse of rhyme or with a derivative English line (""Let us meet again/ two gravestones/ standing/ with wind/ between""). But occasionally the translations are successful, especially those which come closer, to a colloquial idiom.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1969
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston