Theme 2: Home, Love, Life

If awareness of nature and seasons is an aspect of constancy and security, then memories of Home, Love and Life with humor provides additional sources of keeping us aware of who we are.

This section begins with two of Miriam Ulinover’s warm evocative poems. The first is “Girl with a Bagel” where she tells of baking bagels and giving to the poor . The second is “Antikelakh” in which she expresses her love for the grandmother who raised her. Ulinover was very popular in Lodz and assembled a salon of younger poets whom she mentored and encouraged before she was taken from Lodz to Auschwitz and killed in 1944.

Kalman Lis’ gives us scenes in “A Guest at Home” of the life of Jewish peasants in the rural countryside of Wolin where Lis grew up. He acquaints us with the self doubt of himself as a young poet and pays tribute in this poem to the peasant wisdom and loving understanding of his mother from whom he learned to love his mother tongue, Yiddish. Also in this section, Lis gives us a poem that tells a love story in “A Letter With an Answer” about a soldier and a village girl separated in war.

The poem by Yehuesh, an émigré from Poland to America, deals with the age old Jewish parental fear of keeping a daughter safe and unappealing to an attractive powerful non-Jew who will want her.
A series of poems about love, and its vicissitudes follows beginning with Shayevitch’s “Afternoon Prayer”. Rachel Korn’s “Song of Yesterday” details the pain of loss and longing as does Moishe Kaufman in several of poems.

The very popular Moishe Broderzon wrote some serious poems about love, such as “Waltz” in which Romeo and Juliet speak, “Tango” and “Duet” which deals with ambivalence, love and hate at the end of a love relationship. But Broderson also wrote with characteristic sharp humor in many poems such as”Permanent Wave” and “Stand Ins”. His talent for irony is especially evident in the next two poems that follow. In “Madagascar”, he takes on the most serious subject of the urgent need for Jews to escape Hitler’s Europe as he writes about the African country which was then being considered as a possible safe haven for Jewish refugees. In the last poem, called “Balagan”, which means “Bedlam” he takes on the reality of the confusing mess the world had now become.

Poems in this section include: