Yiddish Poet Dedicates Poem to Yevtushenko

The United Nations correspondents’ corps has among its members the only poet who has ever dedicated a poem in Yiddish to Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the author of “Babi Yar.” He is Wolf Pasmanik, who works for the World Union Press and who Knew Yevtushenko before World War II when both were young men studying at the Literary Institute of Soviet Writers in Moscow.

He does not know whether the Russian poet has ever seen his poem. “The Lilac Tree,” which implicitly compares Yevtushenko to such a tree standing “stifling, silence, against the wall,” waiting for spring when again “blue lilacs will be seen.” Babi Yar, the epic dealing with the massacre of Russian Jews by the Nazis in a ravine outside Kiev, made Yevtushenko internationally famous but got him into trouble with the authorities at home. The poem suggested that anti-Semitism still lingered in the Soviet Union.

Pasmanik met Yevtushenko a few years ago when the latter was in New York. He asked him how things were back at the Institute and the Russian replied. “They threw me out,” Pasmanik was born in Lwow, Poland and was repatriated to that country after World War II although Lwow was incorporated into the USSR. He moved to Italy and then came to the United States. He has also dedicated a poem to Premier Golda Meir of Israel, titled “The Jewish Warriors.” After sending it to her he received a letter of thanks in Hebrew from one of Mrs. Meir’s aides. Pasmanik has won prizes from the Yiddish Culture Organization and the Yiddish P.E.N. Club of New York for his book. “Mayne Lider” (My Poems) published last year.

NEXT STORY