A New Translation of the Work of a Great Hebrew Poet

A collection of the later work of Leah Goldberg (1911-1970)—one of Israel’s most important and most beloved poets—has recently appeared in English translation, alongside some of her own drawings, under the title On the Surface of Silence. In her review, Alicia Ostriker writes:

Leah Goldberg grew up in Lithuania, began studying Hebrew as a child, and was already an accomplished scholar and poet when she emigrated to Palestine in 1935. At the age of fifteen she had written in her diary, “The unfavorable condition of the Hebrew writer is no secret to me. . . . Writing in a language other than Hebrew is the same to me as not writing at all. And yet I want to be a writer. . . . This is my only objective.” . . .

For most of her life, Goldberg was a formalist, fashioning sensuously elegant lyrics in traditional patterns, sonnets and terza rima in particular. Unrequited romantic love was a frequent theme; she wrote also of nature, seasons, the land. The last book published in her lifetime, With This Night (1964), begins to loosen this attachment to convention. . . .

A few of the poems in On the Surface of Silence were previously published in journals and newspapers. Most were collected from Goldberg’s notebooks and scattered papers found in her house after her death by her friend and fellow poet Tuvia Ruebner, who arranged and published them in Hebrew under the title The Remains of Life in 1971. Stripped down, seemingly spontaneous improvisations, cryptic yet urgent, they are what the translator Rachel Tzvia Back in her excellent introduction calls fragments, but, paradoxically, “whole fragments”—in other words, not accidents. Unique in themselves, not portions of something greater.

Read more at Moment

More about: Arts & Culture, Hebrew literature, Hebrew poetry, Israeli literature, Leah Goldberg

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy