THE PRIPET MARSHES And Other Poems by Irving Feldman


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Feldman's title-poem, a meditational fancy in prose strophes, opens like simplicity itself: ""Often I think of my Jewish friends and seize them as they are and transport them in my mind to the shtetlach and ghettos..."" It continues with subdued Whitman-esque enumerations, presenting an ecric metamorphosis, as if these Americans were or might have become the Polish martyrs. A theatrical device, and yet the effect is not intrusive; we undergo a terror humanely contained, a delicate balance of the imaginative with the ""actual."" ""To the Six Million,"" however, is hardly similar: a spacious scattered rumination, the God-died-at-Auschwitz theme ambitiously but unmovingly explored, stray lyricism swamped by the echo-chambers of Stanley Kramer or Arthur Miller. Feldman of course seems to dote on the didactic, on moral aspirations. Thus in one of Lionel Trilling's periodic overestimations his first book was called ""the most interesting and satisfying body of work that any of the younger poets has yet produced."" However, Feldman lacks a provocative technique, a powerful language; at his worst the rhythms tend to slide; everything, including the music, grows hazy. At his best- and the new collection shows a more sophisticated reaching out- he can produce poems of insight and felicity-witness the superb ""Manhattan"" or the slight but exquisite ""Lullaby."" His talent seems destined to expand.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1965
Publisher: Viking