ABOUT twenty-five years ago a school of “Young” Yiddish poers made its debut in New York. Outstanding among them were Maneh-Levick, Halpern, a few others. They were up in arms against the classical school of the older bards-Frug, Morris Rosen feld, Raisen. But these former youngsters” are now old, and not in age alone. They have been accepted. Their singing is no loger revolutionary.
Another, still younger, school has arisen during the last decade or so, and in its ranks the imagists and introspectists are most promiment. A Leyeles-Glantz is one of these “youngest,” and the little volume “Tzu dir-tzu mir” just published-his seventh-shows him a past master of his art.
Those who are familiar with his works will find him quite mature, almost staid in his growth and who knows, together with his fellow-singers-perhaps ready to make place for a still younger tendency in American Yiddish poetry. It is no easy task to review a book of poems without quoting, but to translate Leyeles is bure and flame in any other language, but in the case of an introspective poet, every word, every shade and nuance counts. Therefore, let me call attention of “Portrait-1933,” a forceful and poetically beautiful indicment of the “awaited and longed for, predestined God’s messenger and partner”-Hitler, and transliterate just one stanza from the ruly Swinburnesque “A Master Painter”: Shein zenen tzvaigen, ven zunig Tuen zei on zich di tunik Fun dem tzuprallen gebli. Ofen far Got un far laiten. Melden zei shtoltz durch di tzaiten: Ot vi mir liben zich hi.
“The saucer in the sky” would be the literal translation of “Dos Telerel fun himel,” a ballad by Aleph Katz brought out early this year by the Matones (Gifts) Publishing Company, New York. This idiomatic Yiddish expression usually denotes the desire for the inaccessible, in other words for something afar from the earth, in this case-the moon, or the “saucer in the sky.” And yet a time comes when the seemingly unatainable and is to be had, if not for the asking, then by strugglin and fighting for it. And that is precisely the thesis of Katz’ ballad woven with silvery threads of necromancy. The people, the suffering masses, enchanted by the magic moon beams, suddenly begin to see things in a different light, a light that at first seems unreal but gives them vision and faith in their own strenth. The world is theirs-”and it is not far away, it is not on high, and after the first, decisive-struggel-easy to conquer.”
Katz’ verse is metrical, uncon ventional and often lapses into ventional and often lapses into vers libre, but always stays rhymed and rhythmical There is fore and no visible effort in his lines, and the vails and triumphant songs of humnity between them. Aleph Katz is not a now comer in Yiddish Leters, havingf previously published two volumes of poetry. “A maaseh fun yam unandere,”” (“A Tale of the Sea and Other Poems”) and “Akort zait” (“Ploughing Time”), and a Yiddish version of Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” A word of praise must also be spoken for cover design and illustrations by Yossel Kutler and for the Publishers who have succeeded in jointing to the beauty of the text and the pen and ink drawings the perfection of the bookmaker’s art.
ELBERT A. TROMMER.