Two Forgotten Poems by a Distinguished Yiddish Poetess

Oct. 16 2018

While still a girl, and living in what is now Belarus, Celia Dropkin (1887-1956) wrote poetry in Russian. Only when she came to the U.S. in 1912 did she begin composing verse in Yiddish; she went on to become one of the most important American Yiddish poets of the 20th century. Shoshana Olidort has translated two poems, from a rare edition of Dropkin’s work, that are not available in the two standard collections. Herewith, the opening lines of “The Ballad of the Old Woman with the Basket and the Passengers on a Refugee Ship”:

Woven within the grayness of the sea
Absorbed within the lullaby of the sea
Absorbed within the white foam,
the silver foam
of the clouds’ white sheep—
—Sleep, sleep!

An old, old woman
with long-loose gray hair
rocks me, rocking with such feeling
her eyes watery, blurry,
her voice a monotonous murmur.
She rocks me in a large water-basket,
she rocks me with her old hands,
she rocks and carries me far into the undulating space.

Suddenly, she wakes me: Get up, get up!
I hear in her voice a melancholic cry,
and sirens answer, like an echo.
All at once, a ship appears
and people stand quietly at the edge of the ship
and people look silently into the depths.

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More about: American Jewish literature, Arts & Culture, Poetry, Yiddish literature


To Today’s Cosmopolitan and “Oikophobic” Left, Israel Can Never Be Acceptable

Aug. 23 2019

On the day the Knesset passed its nation-state law last year, Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed, “This is our state—the Jewish state. . . . This is our nation, language, and flag.” This declaration, argues Wiliam Voegeli, points precisely to what the American left finds so unpalatable about Israel:

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Read more at Claremont Review of Books

More about: Anti-Zionism, Leftism, Nation-State Law, Nationalism