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The name in the poem: women Yiddish poets (1).

A poet's name appearing in a poem signals the question: To what degree does the individual writer speak for her/himself and to what degree for the community? In Old Yiddish poems, no modern idea of the individual writer is present. When the poet signs her name--Rivke Tiktiner in an acrostic, Royzl Fishls and Toybe Pan in a rhymed stanza--she carves her name into her prayer or proem according to the convention of signature established by medieval Hebrew liturgical poems. She names herself as a woman linked to Jewish learning through male ancestors and as a voice for the Jewish people awaiting messianic redemption. Such a poet signs her name to claim the distinction of an authorship predicated on the author's place within the Jewish community and its conventions, both literary and religious. But when modern women poets--Anna Margolin, Kadya Molodowsky, Rokhl Korn--place their names in a Yiddish poem, they inscribe a vexed individuality. The pull away from traditional Jewish life produces a literary tension betw een the poet's responsibilities to voice the will of the Jewish people and her own desires. The lyric poem becomes an analogue for the individual person, yet vestiges of communal responsibility and traditional writings linger in its Yiddish language, culture, and historical context.


In Jewish literary tradition, the presence of the poet's name in a poem begins in the classical period of Hebrew liturgical poems, or piyyutim, between the mid-sixth and the late eighth centuries CE. In the earliest liturgical poems, poets, following biblical examples, as in Psalm 119, (2) often determined the length and order of their poems by employing alphabetical or "abecedarian" (3) acrostics, that is, in its simplest form, starting the first line of a poem with an [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]-the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet--and then each subsequent line with the next letter, until all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet were used, and a reader, looking down the page, would see the lines of the poem in alphabetical order. (4) In the classical period, as the major genres and devices of liturgical poems became far more complex, "the acrostics became highly intricate, sometimes spelling out not only the name of the author, ... but also his father's name, his place of residence, his occupation, and even concluding formulas such as hazak, 'be strong!'" (5) This spelling out of the author's name, his lineage, his location, and an epithet weaves the composer into his composition, writing a message to the reader that is independent of the content of the poem, challenging the reader to read in two ways at once, and to think simultaneously of both the poem's official story and the person whose hand and mind moved in synchrony to shape the poem.

For example, one Amittai Ben Shephatiah, of late-ninth century Italy, writes a poem, titled by its translator T. Carmi as "Moses' Journey Through Heaven," in which the poet narrates how Moses, ascending to Paradise, scared off the mighty angels guarding Heaven with his humbleness and then "walked around on the firmament as a man walks in his own neighborhood." (6) While the poem proceeds to tell how Moses encounters the inhabitants of Heaven, each angel more terrifyingly holy than the previous one, it also tells another story, beginning each of the first four stanzas with the letters [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]--Amittai--and the first three lines of the fifth and final stanza with [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] hazak (be strong!). The spelling out of the poet's first name keeps the poem anchored to the earth, and the formulaic imperative hazak reminds the reader and the writer both of the strength and fortitude required to make a poem, and seems to encourage at once the poet, the reader of the densely allusive Hebrew, and even the character Moses to continue striving. It seems, then, that by inserting his name into his poem, the poet links the earthly endeavor of writing a poem with the poem's divine content.

Long after the golden age of the piyyutim, we find a poem written in Yiddish during the first half of the fifteenth century by one Reb Zelmelin, a Hebrew and Yiddish poet who lived and was active in Erfurth, in what is now Germany. This poem, "Shabes-lid" (Sabbath Song), begins by retelling the story of the Hebrews' enslavement in Egypt and their rescue by God from Pharaoh's armies crossing the Red Sea, and ends with a thanksgiving to God for the good loaf of Shabbes khale on the poet's table. (7) Typical of Old Yiddish poems, "Shabes-lid" places the poet's personal situation within the framework of sacred history and his name in the poem. As M. Bassin, the editor, notes in the anthology where Shabes-lid was reprinted in 1917, "The initial letters of the three stanzas spell out [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'ZEL,' the beginning of the author's name." (8) Reb Zelmelin, clearly acquainted with the convention of acrostics in the Hebrew liturgical poem, translated this pattern of inscription to his Yiddish version of one of his Hebrew poems. With the Yiddish acrostic of his name, Reb Zelmelin lays claim to the poem. (9)

The device of the author's name acrostic crosses the divides between languages and genders. A contemporary of Reb Zelmelin, although halfway across the Jewish world, was a woman who is known to us only because she inserted her name into an acrostic in her Hebrew poem beginning with the line, "Blessed, majestic, and terrible," which survives in a manuscript describing the author as "a woman of virtue, the lady Merecina, the Rabbiness from Gerona." (10) This Merecina writes in a style that alludes in almost every line to verses from the Bible--Psalms, Proverbs, Deuteronomy, Numbers, and Jeremiah. She asks God to intervene in a dispute on her behalf and frames her personal complaint within a prayer that God should remedy the plight of all the people of Israel. And, in the way of the liturgical poets, Merecina inscribes her Hebrew name [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] into the poem in an acrostic, spelling it out in the first letter of the first line of each of the five stanzas. Writing her authorial signatur e into the poem's very structure, this poet writes herself into the Hebrew liturgical tradition. Without this acrostic, we would have no idea that a woman in the fifteenth century had ever written in this form and no record that Merecina had ever existed. The acrostic, then, not only links a poem with its author, but also provides evidence of the very existence of that woman.

In the late sixteenth century, some 130 years after Merecina wrote in northern Spain, two women inscribed their names in Yiddish poems. The first, like Merecina, utilized the conventional signature of the authors of the piyyutim. Rikve Tiktiner, from a town in northeastern Poland, wrote "Simkhes toyre lid" (Simkhes Torah Poem), a poem praising God, retelling stories of the Jews receiving the Torah, and praying for the Messiah to come. The poem was likely sung by women decorating the Torah scrolls for Simkhes Torah, the holiday celebrating the conclusion and renewed beginning of the weekly synagogue reading of the Torah. (11) In the first half of the poem, the initial lines of each rhymed couplet form an abecedarian acrostic, which is followed, in the second half of the poem, by an acrostic that spells out the author's name, "Rivke, has Moreynu haRov Reb Mayer," Rivke, daughter of Our Teacher the Rabbi Reb (Mr.) Mayer. Rivke Tiktiner was also known as the author of Meneykes Rivke--Rivke's Nursemaid--a book on ethical behavior for women, written after 1581 and first published in Prague in 1609 and Krakow in 1618. (12)

Instead of carving her name like a coded message into the skeletal structure of the poem with an acrostic, the second Yiddish poet followed another convention of claiming authorship, which was characteristic of both the Yiddish chivalric romance of Elijah Bakhur's Bove-bukh and the Yiddish supplicatory prayers written for and sometimes by women, for individual recitation, the tkhines. (13) She worked her full name and lineage into the concluding lines of the poem. (14) In 1586, Royzl Fishls, the daughter of Yoysef Halevi of Krakow, introduced a volume of the Psalms, translated into Yiddish verse by one Moyshe Shtendl, with her own rhymed poem that explains why she has published this book:
mit hoylf gots yas' hob ikh mir in zin ginumn.
un mit der hoylf fun got yas hof ikh do durkh tsu kumn:

dos getlikh's 'tehilim af toytsh in der tsayt lozin vayzn.
in er vertung dos ider men zol got yas libn un frayzn:

es zayn froy oder man.
vi dovid hamelekh olev hasholem hot giton: (15) (lines 1-6)

(With God's help, blessed be He, this I have undertaken
And with the help of God, blessed be He, I hope not to be mistaken:

At this time to present in Yiddish these godly psalms.
In the expectation that with them God shall be loved and sung:

That is to say, by either woman or man.
As King David (peace unto him) has done:)

The poem opens with a couplet acknowledging God's help as the poet undertakes the twofold project of writing her poem and of publishing Moyshe Shtendal's Yiddish translation of the Psalms. She tells us that she is publishing the Psalms in Yiddish in order to enable both men and women to sing their praise of God. In line 6, Royzl compares this act of devotion--praising God by reciting the Psalms--to the act of the legendary author of the Psalms themselves, King David. With this simile, Royzl Fishls brings into the same realm of existence David, the biblical poet-king, and her contemporary Yiddish reader. By adding, after the name of King David, the abbreviation for the formulaic Hebrew phrase honoring the dead, "olev hasholem" (peace onto him), and by stating that the contemporary female or male readers of Yiddish will sing the Psalms just as the Psalms' ancient author, King David, once did, Royzl reflects the traditional notion of Jewish history's unbroken continuum from the Hebrew Bible until the present day .

As Royzl's poem continues, she discusses the provenance of the particular translation of Psalms she is publishing and then advertises its charms:
dos harov moyshe Shtendil hot af toytsh gemakht.
in dem raym un nigen fun SHMUEL BUKH gibrakht:

in er vartung es zol zayn liblikh tsu leynen.
manen un froyen un di frume meydlekh.
den es virt zayn zer bashaydlekh: (lines 13-17)

(Roy Moyshe Shtendal translated this into Yiddish.
Carried it into the rhyme and melody of the Shmuel-bukh; (16)

In the expectation that it shall be lovely to read.
For men and women and the pious girls.

That it will be meaningful to them:)

The poet presents the name of the translator of the Hebrew psalms into Yiddish verse, Roy (Rabbi) Moyshe Shtendal. As a publisher promoting her product, Royzl emphasizes the currency of Shtendal's translation, which he has set "in dem raym un nigen fun SHMUEL BUKH," into the rhyme and melody of the Shmuel bukh, a popular epic poem based on the biblical and midrashic tales about the heroic King David. Shtendal has taken into account the audience of the moment by translating King David's ancient Hebrew Psalms into the poetic form of the contemporary Yiddish retelling of the King David story. In fact, though, modern scholars have determined that Shtendal's Psalm translations are not set in the stanzaic form of the Shmuel bukh!

Royzl's phrase "manen un froyen un di frume meydlekh" ([for] men, women, and the pious girls) is a variant of the apologetics that often appeared at that time in prefaces and on title pages of Yiddish devotional literature to designate the intended audience ("Far froyen, meydlekh, un mener vos zaynen vi froyen," [For women, girls, and men who are like women, i.e., uneducated men unable to read Hebrew]). (17) When, in these lines, Royzl Fishls alludes to two examples of popular Yiddish literature, the Shmuel bukh and the tkhines--an entertainment narrative and women's prayers--she demonstrates that as a publisher well versed in the Yiddish writings of her day, she intends this book of Psalms to sell.

The poet then describes her own role in the production of the book:
do hob ikhs mit mayner hand iber shrib.
dos es iz nisht drinen giblibn:

un hob mikh bidakht.
un in den druk gibrakht: (lines 18-21)

(Here in my own hand I have copied over.
The entire work and nothing was left over:

And with care considered it.
And brought it into print:)

Like a merchant committed to truth in advertising, Royzl Fishls wants to ensure that her readers know exactly what she has done to bring Shtendal's translation to them. She has "copied over" (iber shribn) the text with her own hand, making sure not to omit anything (dos es iz nisht drinen geblibn). Having considered or looked over the text with careful attention, (un hob mikh bidakht), she has brought it into print (un in den druk gibrakht). These lines attest to the quality of Royzl Fishls' work as a copyist, editor, and printer.

In the final three couplets, the poet presents her signature, that is, her name and her lineage:
royzl bar fishl ton mikh di loyt nenen
dos makht dos zi [zey] mayn fater zal' nit kenin:

harov reb yoysef levi iz zayn nomen fun der levim gishlekht.
di zayn ale gots yas' knekht:

un zayn fater MVH"R [moreynu ha rov] yehudah levi
 olev hasholem der altn.
der hot finftsing yor isu kehiles hakoydesh ludmir
 yeshive gehalth: (lines 22-27)

(Royzl daughter of Reb Fishl is what the people call me.
They do this [because] they do not know him, my father
 (of blessed memory):

The Rov Reb Yoysef Levi is his name, of the Levite line. (18)
These are all the servants of blessed God, to the last one:

And Our Teacher the Rov Yehudah Levi (peace unto him),
 his aged father,
He dedicated fifty years to the yeshiva in the
 Holy Community of Ludmir.)

Here, Royzi gives her name as "Royzl bar Fishi," another version of "Royzl Fishls." (19) However, the poem suggests that Royzi Fishls is not the poet's real name, for her townspeople do not know her deceased father, "Harov reb yoyseflevi" (Rabbi Mr. Josef Levi). (20) Perhaps Roy Reb Yoysef Levi was the Hebrew rather than Yiddish name of Royzi Fishis' father, or perhaps Royzl, who confesses in the poem that she "was forced to wander," is living far from her birthplace and those who knew her family. Whatever the reason, she asserts with some urgency her true identity as the descendent of rabbis, learned men, teachers. The final couplet further emphasizes the poet's yikhes, her inherited scholarly honor: Royzl names her father's father, Yehudah Levi, who bore the honorific title Moreynu haRov (Our Teacher the Rabbi) and was long a scholar of sacred texts in the yeshiva of Ludmir (Ludomir), a Jewish community in the Ukraine dating from the twelfth century, which in the mid-sixteenth century, was famous for its ra bbis. (21)

This poem, then, is filled with names: the poet's name, those of her father and her grandfather--both of whom were teachers and rabbis; the name of the translator of the Psalms and the name of the legendary author of the Psalms; the names of the Jewish communities of Hanover and Ludmir, and, of course, the name of God. Teachers, rabbis, translators, and now the author of this poem mediate between the sacred text and its readers. By writing her name into her poem's catalogue of learned men's names, Royzl Fishls, a woman, joins the tradition of textual interpreters. Although Royzl Fishls does not mention her own mother or grandmothers in her list, and thus does not invoke a direct lineage of women, she implicitly includes women as she contemplates the future of her book. Into the community of scholars, writers, and printers, she invites other women and girls, as well as men, as readers, to find their own meanings in the Hebrew Psalms, which she brings them in the Yiddish vernacular. Rather than encode her name into the vertical structure of the poem with an acrostic, following the example of the authors of medieval Hebrew piyyutim, Royzl Fishls follows the conventions of two Yiddish genres--the popular epic and the devotional tkhine--by signing her name and ancestry into the concluding lines of the poem.

Although Royzl Fishls' sixteenth century poem "Mithoylf gots yas a" introduces the Psalms translated into Yiddish for women, and in the process preserves the identity of Royzl Fishis herself as a reader, writer, and publisher, the poem itself is not devotional. In contrast, and in concert with the farflung fifteenth-century Hebrew piyyut by the Spanish Rabbiness Merecina and Yiddish prayer by the German Reb Zelmelin, Toybe Pan's poem speaks directly to God.

Toybe Pan most likely lived and wrote in Prague during the seventeenth century. (22) Her poem consists of fifty quatrains, each ending with a fifth line refrain, Foter kinig, (Father King). The title of the poem is a rhymed couplet that announces the poem's originality and its language: "Eyn sheyn lid naye gimakht/beloshn tkhine iz vardin oys gitrakht" (A Brand-New Beautiful Song/ Composed in the Tkhine-Tongue). (23) The first half of the title, "Eyn sheyn lid naye gmakht," literally, "A beautiful poem newly made," advertises the poem according to the conventions of the day, as aesthetically pleasing and as original. The second half of the title, "beloshn tkhine iz vardin oys gitrakht," literally, "was invented in the language of the tkhine," designates both the language of composition, Yiddish rather than Hebrew, and the genre of the tkhines. Beneath the title stands a third line, "B 'nign adir ayom vnora" (to the tune of "Mighty, Terrible, and Awful"). A variant edition of this poem gives a different epigra ph, "B'nign akeyde," (to the tune of "The Binding of Isaac"). (24)

The title and epigraph indicate that Toybe Pan, composing this poem within two liturgical stances, made something new. While the title links Toybe Pan's poem to the women's realm of individual prayers in Yiddish, the epigraph, indicating the melody to which the poem should be sung, suggests a communal recitation of the poem; communal prayer in turn suggests the domain of males, because the traditional Jewish prayer community is defined as a minyan, a quorum often men, and the melodies cited are Hebrew prayers chanted in the synagogue on the Day of Atonement. Moreover, the poem's refrain, which in itself suggests communal performance or public recitation, is a Yiddish translation (Foter kinig, Father King) of a familiar Hebrew prayer, "A vinu malkeinu," (Our Father, our King), also chanted in the Yom Kippur liturgy, among other times. (25) This combination of loshn koydesh (Holy Tongue, Hebrew/Aramaic) referents and Yiddish forms suggests that Toybe Pan deliberately composed a poem that unites Yiddish prayers recited privately by women with Hebrew prayers chanted publicly by men. Toybe Pan expands the public, the community, to include women as well as men. In this way, Toybe Pan, like Royzl Fishls, at the outset, places herself as a female writer into a literary form that combines male and female traditions.

In the 50 stanzas of this poem, Toybe Pan addresses God, begging Him to be merciful and to stop the terrible plague afflicting Prague's Jews. Employing the familiar form "you" (du) to address God, typically used in the tkhines, she speaks in the voice of the collective, "we" (mir), not the individual "I" (ikh). Rather than request the generalized messianic redemption of the Jews, which will take place at some unspecified point in the future, a convention in many tkhines, Toybe Pan presents a hope for a delimited and concrete salvation, one bound to the worldly present as experienced by the speaker and her community. In this sense, Toybe Pan's poem is a public prayer, to be sung in the synagogue's communal worship, although it is written in the language of daily life and private women's prayers.

The poem reveals, in increasing detail, specific events and practices in Toybe Pan's community during the plague. In Stanza 7, the poet tells how a person, infected by the plague, is isolated in a sick house until he or she, inevitably, expires. In subsequent stanzas (8-11), she describes the help given to the plague victims by khameysh ananshim, the Five Men, perhaps a benevolent group, who put themselves at risk to make sure that no one has been forgotten, by frume vayber, pious women, and by other communal organizations that perform many good deeds for the stricken.

Like other devotional writings, though, Toybe Pan's poem invokes sacred history in order to persuade God to help those in the present moment. She cites the example of Abraham bargaining with God to save Sodom if ten righteous men could be found (Genesis 18:22-32). From this comparison, it follows that if Abraham could convince God to save Sodom for the sake of ten innocents, then why shouldn't Toybe Pan convince God to save the Jews of Prague for the sake of their numerous pious and righteous members?

In this long and complex poem, Toybe Pan addresses contemporary politics. Well aware that the Jews of Prague might be falsely blamed and punished for having caused the plague, Toybe Pan prays that "the Emperor should not believe all the evil spoken about us" (Stanza 23) and that "he shall be merciful to the unfortunate community" (Stanza 24). When she tells of Queen Esther's legendary heroism in persuading King Ahashuerus to save the Jews of Shushan from Haman (Stanzas 31-32), Toybe Pan implies an analogy between the Jewish queen's speech and her own efforts in her poem to save the Jews of Prague.

Explaining that she has taken on the role of communal spokesperson because the cantor and rabbi have both died (Stanza 34), Toybe addresses the dead rabbi directly, describing the painful death by blisters of innocent children, both toddlers and "those who have already learned to read and pray." Unlike a modern poet, who might strive to express her sorrow in original words, Toybe Pan recasts phrases from King David's psalms in order to give her individual emotions more weight. The words expressing the grief of a legendary figure such as the biblical David have accumulated a collective force through their repetition in rabbinical and liturgical texts and thus speak for the many generations of Jews. When Toybe Pan in seventeenth-century Prague wants to convince God of her own deep feelings, which are also the feelings of her community, she adapts biblical Hebrew words into Yiddish meter and rhyme. Quoting David's Psalms, Toybe Pan implies, without a trace of hubris, an analogy between David the psalmist and Toy be Pan the poet. (26)

In stanza 50, Toybe Pan signs her name to the poem she has written. Like Royzl Fishls' last lines, Toybe Pan's follow the conventions of the day. With modesty, she precedes her name with the phrase, "Ven emets velt visn ver dos lid hot gimakht (If/ When someone wants to know who made this song)." However, it is with artistry that she "makes" this final stanza, for she ensures that her name, her husband's, and her father's are placed into carefully rhymed couplets, in keeping with the rest of the poem:
Ven emsts velt visn ver dos lid hot gimakht.
Toybe eyshes KhMHVRR [khmhorer] [kvod moreynu hareynu
 harav reb] yankev pan hot es der trakht.
Bas KhMHR"R [khmhorer] [kvod moreynu hareynu harav reb]
 leyb pitsker z"1.
HaSh"Y [hashem yisborekh] zol uns bahitn al: [50]

(If someone wants to know who made this song.
Toybe the wife of Our Honored Teacher and Master Rabbi Pan is the one.
Daughter of Our Honored Teacher and Master Rabbi Leyb Pitsker, z"1.
May God, His name be blessed, watch over us all.)

The first couplet rhymes gimakht (made) and der trakht (conceived/thought up), while the second couplet pairs the abbreviation z"l (zikhronov l'vrakha) (may his memory be to a blessing), pronounced zal, which follows after the name of the deceased, with al (all). These rhymed pairs summarize the story of the poem and its making: The poem was both made (gimakht) with all the craft and skill of an artisan, and invented, conceived, thought through (der trakht) by Toybe Pan. The craft controlling the form and the intellectual acuity that determined the meaning were both the work of the woman Toybe. Like Royzl Fishls, Toybe gives her lineage in the terms of her husband and her deceased father, defining herself as a writer by her connections to her closest male relatives, who also were learned men. The second rhymed couplet links the past with the present, the dead with the living, for z"l (zal), the standard phrase that follows the name of the deceased, connects the dead to the divine will, and to the ability of t he living to remember. The rhyme of z"l with al-where al refers to all those still alive, all those who have survived the plague and for whose sake Toybe Pan has written her poem-brings together the dead with the living under the protection of "Father King."

Toybe Pan's poem, "Eyn sheyn lid," presents the extraordinary example of a woman who takes upon herself the role of the speaker for the Jewish community, a role ordinarily held by men. As she says, Toybe Pan takes on this role because the men who once performed these tasks-the rabbi and the cantor-have died, and there seems to be no one else left to speak to God on behalf of the Jews of Prague. In this way, Pan resembles Royzl Fishls, who also took on a male role, that of printer and publisher in the absence, it seems, of husband and father. Both these women appear to be exceptions in their learnedness, in their literacy, and in the ability and ease with which they performed the activities and assumed the authority necessary to compose and lead prayer, to publish books, and to write poems.

In the Old Yiddish poems, then, the poet inserts her name into the poem in order to establish her authorship and to describe her role in her community. In modern Yiddish poems, in contrast, the presence of the poet's name within the verse becomes thematic and ironic and signals a more complex role for the poet within the poem. For example, in Moyshe-Leyb Halpern's poem, "Memento Mori," published in New York in 1919, the poet and his alienation from his audience become the subject and theme of the poem:
Un az moyshe-leyb, der poet vet dertseyln,
az er hot dem toyt af di khvalyes gezen,
azoy vi men zet zikh aleyn in a shipigl,
un dos in der fri gor, azoy arum tsen--
tsi vet men dos gleybn moysh-leybe?

(And if Moyshe-Leyb, the poet, were to tell
That he has seen Death along the waves
Just as one sees oneself in the mirror,

And it was in the morning, just around ten--
Would anyone believe Moyshe-Leyb?) (27)

Halpern inserts his own first name into the first and fifth lines of each of the four stanzas to create Moyshe-Leyb der poet (Moyshe-Leyb the poet), a self-consciously caricatured figure who demonstrates the alienation of the Yiddish poet from his audience. This visionary mentshele, "little man," who, like a prophet, sees Death personified on the waves at the beach and is drawn to that ordinary, yet dazzling specter, would, if he were to try, fail to convince any of the hundreds of people surrounding him of his vision's truth. Halpern's modernist poem works against accepted conventions: the literary conventions of how and where the image of death appears and the social conventions of what the Yiddish poet's role should be. Prophetic as he may be, this poet, unlike Halpern's predecessors, the Yiddish Labor Poets, does not serve as spokesman for his presumed audience, the people, the masses, but as an absurd soothsayer, afraid to speak.

In contrast to their male contemporaries, including, besides Halpern, Yankev Glatshteyn, in the poem "1919," which appears in his 1921 book of poems, called Yankev Glatshteyn and Mani Leyb, in "Ikh bin" (I Am) (1932), the women modernists of the 1920s and 1930s did not generally insert names into their poems. Or, to put this point a little differently, they did not put their own names in their poems, although at least one poet invented a persona when she could not name herself. The case in point is Anna Margolin in her "Mari" poems.

The highly textured poems of Anna Margolin (pseudonym for Rosa Lebensboym) employ "distancing devices" (28)--motifs of sculpture and masks, passages that imitate Impressionist paintings--which prevent the reader from assuming that the poem is direct speech and emphasize the crafted, made nature of the poem. Moreover, this crafted poetry was further protected by the poet's pseudonym and by the many personae she invented as the speakers of her poems. The opening poem of her 1929 volume Lider, one that at first glance looks like an autobiographical confession, but instead of telling the story of a woman from Brest-Litovsk, the poem, "Ikh bin geven a mol a yingling" (I Was Once A Boy), sums up the life of a Greco-Roman homosexual and incestuous man, for whom the Jews are but a distant rumor. (29) With this arsenal of tools and techniques to restrain the poet's identity and presence in the poems, it is hardly surprising that Margolin does not invoke her authorial name in her poems.

However, each of Margolin's seven "Mari" poems bears the name of its protagonist in its title, and this insistent repetition drums up an irony that draws attention to what it may be shielding: "Vos vilstu, mari?" (What do You Want, Mary?) "Maris tfile," (Mary's Prayer), "Mari un der prister," (Mary and the Priest), "Eynzame mart," (Lonely Mary), "Mart un di gest," (Mary and her Guests), "Mart vil zayn a betlerin," (Mary Wants to Be a Beggar Woman), and "Mart un der toyt" (Mary and Death). As Avrom Nowersztern suggests, Margolin's Mari persona may have "served the same purpose . . . as Moyshe Leyb Halpern's 'Moyshe Leyb.'" (30) While Halpern's ironic poet-character reflects the author and his world in a fun-house mirror, though, Margolin's Man persona deflects the image of the poet out of the poem. That the name Man or Mary at least partly represents the Virgin Mary surfaces in at least two of the poems ("Marts tfile"--Mary's Prayer--and "Mart un der prister"--Mary and the Priest) and only emphasizes Margolin' s dodging of explicit self-representation. (31)

Yet the issue at stake in these poems is that of a woman's identity in the world. At the outset, the poet asks repeatedly, "What do you want, Mary?" (Vos vilstu, mari?) And Mary answers by questioning her own humanity:
Bin ikh a mentsh, a bills, der umru fun di vegn,
Oder di shvartse krekhtsndike erd?
(Vos vilstu, mari? p. 95)

(Am I a person, a lightning bolt, the restlessness of the roads,
Or the black, groaning earth?)

Indeed, Mary's humanity is under scrutiny when, in the second poem, "Mans tfile," she is taken by God spiritually and sexually:
Un ikh hg afn rand fun der velt,
Un du geyst fintster durkh mir vi di sho fun toyt.
Geyst vi a breyte blitsndike shverd.
(Maris tfile. p. 96)

And I lie on the rim of the world,
And you pass through me, dark as the hour of death,
Pass like a broad, flashing sword.

In the third poem, "Mari un den prister," Mary is objectified as a vessel--"a goblet of sacrificial wine,/A tender, rounded goblet of wine" waiting "To be smashed"/"On a devastated altar."

In the fourth poem, Mary utters her own name as if to make sure that she exists, because the "people" among whom she finds herself do not acknowledge her identity:
Tsvishn mentshn iz zi
vi in midbar geven,
flegt zi murmlen aleyn
ir nomen: "Mari."
(Eynzame mari, p. 98)

(Among people, she is
As she was in the desert.
Alone, she used to murmur
Her name: "Mary.")

Although in the fifth poem Mary hosts a party for "dreamers, masters, slaves/ Whom she knew in the nights," she remains solitary:
Zi iz aleyn. Bay a fremdn fest.
Zi iz keyn mol nit geven mit zey farvebt.
Zi hot ir lebn keyn mol nit gelebt.
(Mari un di gest, p. 101)

(She is alone. At an alien feast.
She was never entangled with them.
She never lived her life.)

Renouncing her house, her husband, her life, Mary in the sixth poem decides to become a beggar woman:
Zayn a betlerin.
Vi fun a shif, vos zinkt,
Varfn ale oyters afn vint:
Di last fun dayn libe un last fun di freydn,
Un az ikh aleyn zol mer zikh nit derkonen--
Oykh mayn gutn tsi mayn shlekhtn nomen.
(Mari vil zayn a betlerin, p. 102)

(To be a begger woman.
As if from a sinking ship,
To throw all treasures to the wind:
The burden of your love and the burden of joys,
And--when I no longer know who I am--
Also my good or my bad name.)

Discarding the trappings of relationship--love and joy--the speaker also rids herself of her reputation and her identity--her "good or bad name." Only through this shedding of social attributes does the speaker imagine her desired freedom:
Shtum zikh sharn iber groye trotuarn,
Aynshlofn in gas under der zun,
Vi in feld a mider zang,
Vi a tseflikte blum,
Vos iz farvelkt un umreyn,
Un dokh getlekh,
Un hot nokh alts a por sheyne zaydene bletlekh.
Un oyflaykhtn mit krankn likht fun a lamtern,
Zikh oyfviklen fun der shtumer groyer nakht,
Vi a nepl fun nepl, vi a nakht fun der nakht.
Vern a gebet un vern a flam.
Zikh avekshenken tsertlekh, brenendik un groyzam.
Un zayn eynzam,
Vi nor kenign un betlers zaynen eynzam.
Un umgliklekh.
Un geyn azoy mit farvunderte oygn
Durkh groyse soydesdike teg un nekht
Tsum hoykhn gerikht,
Tsum shmertslekhn likht,
Tsu zikh.
(Mari vil zayn a betlerin, pp. 102-103)

(To scrape mutely across gray sidewalks,
To fall asleep in the street under the sun,
Like a tired stalk in the field,
Like a ragged flower,
Faded, foul,
And yet divine,
With its remnant pair of beautiful, silken petals.
And, illuminated by the sick light of a lantern,
To unfold oneself from the mute, gray night,
Like a mist from mist, like a night from the night.
To become a plea and to become a flame.
To give oneself away tenderly, burning and ruthless.
And to be lonely,
As only kings and beggars are lonely.
And unhappy.
And to walk with astonished eyes
Through great secretive days and nights
To the high court,
To the aching light,
To the self.)

By discarding her name--the word by which she is known in society and that also connotes her value within that society--the speaker of the poem, Mary, can be alone in the city. Only without a name can she move toward knowing who she is. This act of becoming nameless--even in a poem where the author's actual name is hidden by a pseudonym, and that pseudonym is then masked by a persona--proves how far the modern woman writer stands from Royzl Fishls and Toybe Pan, who inscribed themselves into their poems as a sign of their place in the community of Jews. Margolin so deliberately excludes her name from her poems that no name appears even in the two bitter, brilliant versions of her epitaph. (32)

The fact that modernist women Yiddish poets do not state their own names in their poems may indicate how comparatively insecure they feel in the poetic world of their day, in contrast to their female medieval predecessors, who were at home with their audience and in their communities. As secularists, the modernist women poets had broken out of the bindings of Jewish tradition, which, while restricting women's lives and choices, had provided a clear place from which the few who wrote could speak.

I will conclude with two examples of modern women poets who do name themselves in their poems. They do so only by invoking Jewish tradition in the years immediately following the end of the Second World War.

Kadya Molodowsky's "Khad gadya" appears in her book, Der melekh dovid aleyn iz geblibn (Only King David Remained [New York, 1946]). Molodowsky herself characterized the poems in this collection as khurbn-lider, destruction poems, and although "Khad gadya" does not address the destruction of Europe's Jews directly, it, too, is a khurbn-lid. Molodowsky models her poem on the famous Aramaic song found at the end of the Passover Haggadah, in which a young child observes and relates a chain of destruction and retribution. In each stanza of the song, we are obliged to recite all the preceding events--the small goat purchased for two zuzim, the cat that eats the goat, the dog that bites, the stick that beats, the fire that burns, the water that quenches, and so forth, until the butcher is slaughtered by the Angel of Death, and the Angel of Death, by God. Thus we are reminded of the causal relationship of things in this world, how the chain of causes implies the hierarchy of power in nature, which itself implies the hierarchy of apocalyptic history. Innocent victims are ultimately avenged by the justice of the Almighty, who, we come to realize, has choreographed the chain of vengeance for the death of the little goat.

Molodowsky's "Khad gadya" plays on this shift from the order of nature to the order of divine history. (33) The poem begins as the speaker, a poet, confesses that she had stopped in the middle of writing a poem, because she failed to find a rhyme. Summarizing this half-finished poem, she tells "a story/Of a tall, gray man," who stands at a window at dawn, humming and smoking his pipe. The man's thoughts settle on details of a mundane life, characterized by dinginess and boredom. Suddenly, though, the invented character steps out of the discarded poem and into the poet's own world, accusing her "with resentment and fury" of having abandoned him and his story for no good reason. Examining this unruly creation of hers, the poet gradually begins a process of recognition. She first recognizes the reality of what she has made and discarded, "the smoke of his pipe/And his gray unhappiness." Then she interprets these attributes of her invented man--they become manifestations of the conundrum of human life--the entang led, eternal knot of experience; the unspoken word of unrealized possibility.

In the final stanza, she places her name:
Un oto hostu a khad gadya--
Ikh leyen zi mit zingendikn trop,
Ikh aleyn, vi mayn nomen iz kadya,
Kuk fun shpigl, vi er, punkt arop. (34)

(And there you have it, a "Khad Gadya"--
I read it with the stress of the song,
I myself, as my name is Kadya,
Like him, from the mirror peer down.)

The poet sums up the poem: "un oto hostu a khad gadya," "And there you have it, a khad gadya." The Yiddish line so closely imitates the Aramaic refrain, "veoto shunro veokhlo legadyo" ("And came the cat and ate the kid"), that it can be sung in the traditional trop, or cantillation, as the poet self-consciously notes: "I read it with the stress of the song." The line even begins with a bilingual pun, played by the Yiddish adverb un oto ("and there") upon the Aramaic verb veoto ("and came"). And like the Aramaic, the Yiddish line ends with the word gadya (kid).

In the next line, the poet finds the rhyme that went missing at the poem's beginning, in perhaps the only rhyme in Yiddish for gadya, her own name--Kadya. Momentarily this seems like a joke, but the satisfying closure of the rhyme gives way to an unsettling vision of the self:
Ikh aleyn, vi mayn nomen iz kadya,
Kuk fun shpigl, vi er, punkt arap.

(I myself, as my name is Kadya,
Like him, from the mirror peer down.)

The poem becomes a mirror reflecting the poet as the likeness of the man she once invented and tossed away. Whereas Halpern's "Moyshe-Leyb the poet" saw death "[j]ust as one sees oneself in the mirror," Molodowsky's "Kadya the poet" sees herself in the mirror of her own creations--a half-realized character and the poem in which he has tried to resurrect himself. She has tried to dismiss these creations as a khad gadya, an "idle tale" (in one colloquial Yiddish meaning of the phrase). She cannot free herself from what she has made, though, because she has created herself. She is the tall, gray man. She is also the kid. Kadya herself is the gadya, her own idle tale and its victim. In the Passover song, divine justice provides the rhyme and reason for the escalating destructions. In Molodowsky's poem, bound to a tradition that history has betrayed, there is imperfect rhyme, a bi-gendered self, and no justice, poetic or divine. Like Halpern, Molodowsky inserts her name into the poem ironically, but unlike Halpern , she connects her name through rhyme to communal tradition, to the Passover song, even as she depicts the destruction of the Jewish world that sings that song and comments on the situation of the Yiddish poet who writes in the aftermath.

In 1949, Rokhl Korn, a war refugee and recent emigrant to Canada, from Warsaw via the Soviet Union, published a poem called by her own name, "Rokhl." (35) In this poem, Korn transforms a memory of her mother reciting a tkhine about the Matriarch Rachel into her own life's disrupted story. Blurring the distinction between the biblical character and the modern poet-speaker, Korn protests the sufferings incurred by European antisemitism during the twentieth century. In the Polish countryside of Korn's girlhood, beneath cherry blossoms, the young girl Rokhl listens as her mother reads aloud a Yiddish tkhine. She weeps, for the words of the prayer make her feel as if she were Rachel at the well, awaiting Jacob. As her mother chants the tkhine, the girl experiences Rachel's death in childbirth and the journey to her grave, "Over Bethlehem's stone-hard, desolate roads." The young Rokhl takes the words of the tkhine to heart, identifying fully with the biblical character with a pious naivete:
nor oyb s'iz take vor, az s' shtarbn yungerheyt
di, velkhe got aleyn farkast un oysderveylt
hot durkh a kush in shtern in sho funem geboyrn
tsu groyser libshaft un tsu groysn layd,

dan vil ikh shtarbn oykh azoy, vi yene[.] (36)

(But if it's really true, die young
Whom God himself has betrothed and chosen
With a kiss on the brow at the hour of birth
For great love and great suffering,

Then I, too, want to die this way,like them.

The speaker reasons that she shares Rachel's fate or early death and chosenness because of their common name: "Because I bear her name, it has nursed us for a single destiny." The double reference of the name Rokhl to past and present has made the girl reflect upon what the future holds for her as she stands, alone in the garden, near the bench where her mother has left her prayer book. In this moment of apparent harmony, when the Yiddish prayer has made the girl's life one with the biblical story, the poem itself seems about to join the real with the legend: "The clay pitcher is full of water clear and cool,/ And my left hand tilts it toward the lips of the dream." But Rokhl does not drink. History brings not Jacob, but a pogromist, Ivan, armed and ready to rape. Drawing upon Yiddish devotions, tkhines like those that Royzl Fishls and Toybe Pan recited in their daily lives, Korn fashions her own name into a trope. Like Halpem, Korn places her name at the poem's center. Like Molodowsky, Korn makes her name th e point at which tradition ruptures.

Is it coincidental that in the two post-war poems by Molodowsky and Korn, these rare occasions of a modem poet's self-naming accompany the nexus of the evocation of a traditional text (the Passover song and the Yiddish prayer) with a poetic moment in which reality seems to merge with the imaginary world? The tall, gray man of the discarded poem steps into the poet's world and looks back at the poet from the mirror, displacing her own face. The pitcher of cool water, from the tklzine 's version of the biblical story, almost quenches the thirst of the young girl awaiting an actual embrace from the textual Jacob. It may not be too far-fetched to posit that the historical moment following the great destruction of Europe's Jews locates the juncture of the text and the actual, of survival itself in the Yiddish poet's name.


The appearance of a poet's name in a poem signals a central issue in Jewish writing: the question of to what degree the individual writer speaks for her/himself or for the community. In Old Yiddish poems, the modem idea of the individual writer is not present When the poet signs her name--Rivke Tiktiner in an acrostic; Royzl Fishls and Toybe Pan in a rhymed stanza--she carves her name into her prayer or proem according to convention, that is, the convention of signature established by medieval Hebrew liturgical poems, the convention of naming herself as a woman linked to Jewish learning through her male ancestors, and the convention that each Jew is a member of and voice for the Jewish people awaiting messianic redemption. While the poet signing her name to a poem claims the distinction of authorship and its attendant authority, that distinction presumes the author's place within the Jewish community and its conventions, both literary and religious. Rivke Tiktiner, Royzl Fishls, and Toybe Pan sign their poems in the same spirit that they assume their place in life, as defined by Jewish law, and in time, as defined by sacred history.

In contrast, when modern women poets place their names in a Yiddish poem, they inscribe themselves into a different world. The pre-modern convention of signing a poem within its lines is no longer necessary, for the lyric poem in Yiddish has come to be identified with an individual writer whose by-line follows the poem in a newspaper or on the title page of a book. As the modem woman Yiddish poet pulls away from traditional Jewish life into the secular world, the tension grows between her responsibilities to voice the will of the Jewish people and her own desires. The lyric poem becomes an analogue for the individual person, yet vestiges of communal responsibility linger in its Yiddish language and culture. When the modern poet inserts her name into the poem, her allusion to past conventions of Jewish poetry calls attention to both the unstable position of Jewish tradition in the modem world and the risk involved as women redefine what it means to be a Jew.

(1.) This article is drawn from my book-in-progress, "A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish." I am grateful to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for a fellowship during 1999-2000, when I worked on this book. An earlier version was first presented as the plenary address at the Conference on Women's Yiddish Voices, sponsored by the University of Southern California Center for Feminist Research and Yiddishkayt, Los Angeles, February 25, 2001, and again at the University of Illinois at Chicago, March 20, 2001.

(2.) Alex Preminger, Frank J. Warnke, and O. B. Hardison, Jr., eds., Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965), pp. 4-5.

(3.) Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, p. 4.

(4.) T. Carmi, Introduction, The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse, ed. and trans. T. Carmi (New York: Penguin, 1981), pp. 14-15.

(5.) T. Carmi, Introduction, Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse, p. 18.

(6.) T. Carmi, translator, "Moses' Journey Through Heaven," by Amittai Ben Shephatiah, Penguin Book o f Hebrew Verse, pp. 23 8-239.

(7.) Reb. Zelmelin, "Shabes-lid," in M. Bassin, ed., Antologye: Finf hundert yor yidishe poezye (New York: Farlag Dos Yidishe Bukh), 1917, vol. 1, pp. 8-9.

(8.) M. Bassin, Finf hundert yor yidishe poezye, vol. 1, footnote, p. 8.

(9.) Israel Zinberg, A History of Jewish Literature, Volume 7, Old Yiddish Literature from its Origins to the Haskalah Period, trans. Bernard Martin (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, and New York: KTAV, 1975), p. 41. Another example of a Yiddish acrostic is cited in volume 7 of A History of Jewish Literature, where Israel Zinberg discusses one Zalman Sofer, who also lived in the first half of the fifteenth century, and quotes a stanza from both his Hebrew and Yiddish versions of a poem, "Zera gefen," on the controversy between water and wine, in which he weaves an acrostic, "Zalman Sofer."

(10.) Merecina of Gerona, "[Blessed, Majestic and Terrible]," trans. Peter Cole, in Shirley Kaufman, Galit Hasan-Rokem, Tamar S. Hess, eds., The Defiant Muse: Hebrew Feminist Poems (New York: The Feminist Press, 1999), p. 65.

(11.) Zelda Newman, Ashkenaz: Its Language and Culture, unpublished typescript in progress, May, 2000. Khone Shmeruk, Sifrut yidish bpolin (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1981), pp. 66-69. Also see Israel Zinberg, A History of Jewish Literature, vol. 7, pp. 285-286.

(12.) Israel Zinberg, A History of Jewish Literature, vol. 7, p. 241.

(13.) Elijah Bakhur (Elye Bokher; Elia Levita) (1469-1549) concluded his Yiddish adaptation of a popular Italian chivalric romance, Bove-bukh (published in Isny, 1541), with a stanza that gives his name and the date of composition:
"But I wish to indicate
Who made and wrote this book;
He is called Elijah Bahur.
A whole year he spent on it
And made it in the year
That is numbered 5267 (1507).
He finished it in Nissan and began it in Iyyar.
May God protect us from all evil beasts."

Quoted in Zinberg, A History of Jewish Literature, vol. 7, p. 69. For biographical details, see A. A. Roback, The Story of Yiddish Literature (New York: YIVO, 1940), pp. 59-60.

(14.) Note that Sore has Tovim wrote her name into acrostic in her Tkhine of the Three Gates (written after 1732, according to Chava Weissler, Voices of the Matriarchs. Listening to the Prayers of Early Modern Jewish Women [Boston: Beacon Press, 1999)), although this acrostic did not survive in all editions of the tkhine. She also signed her name and lineage into the end of the tkhine, as Rozyl Fishls and Toybe Pan do.

(15.) Royzl Fishis, "Mit hoylf gots yas "in Ezra Korman, Yidishe dikhterins: antologye (Women Yiddish Poets: Anthology) (Chicago: Farlag L. M. Stein), 1928, pp. 5-6. English translation by Kathryn Hellerstein.

(16.) Shmuel-bukh refers to a popular Biblical and Midrashic epic poem about the heroic King David, of disputed authorship (either by Sanvl the Scribe or Moyshe Esri ve-Arbe), composed probably in the late fifteenth century and first published in 1544. For a standard discussion of the Shmuel-bukh, see Israel Zinberg, A History of Jewish Literature: Old Yiddish Literature from its Origins to the Haskalah Period, Vol.7, pp. 107-115. For a refutation of Zinberg, see Chone Shmeruk, "Can the Cambridge Manuscript Support the Spielmann Theory in Yiddish Literature?" Studies in Yiddish Literature and Folklore (Jerusalem: Research Projects of the Institute of Jewish Studies, Monograph Series 7, Hebrew University, 1986), pp. 1-36.

(17.) According to Naomi Seidman, in A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), p. 3, "Such Yiddish texts would typically open with an apologetic introduction explaining the necessity of writing in Yiddish for those who were ignorant of Hebrew, a social category often referred to in some variation of the phrase, 'women and simple people."' Max Weinreich records a few examples: "For women and men who are like women, that is, they are uneducated, for men and women, lads and maidens, and for women and men," in Max Weinreich, History of the Yiddish Language, trans. Shlomo Nobel and Joshua Fishman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, [1973], 1980), p.276. Also see Chava Weissler, Voices of the Matriarchs, pp. 54-59.

(18.) Levite line refers to one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the Tribe of Levi, whose descendents assisted the priests in the ancient Temples of Jerusalem. Levi was the name of a famous rabbinical family in sixteenth-century Ludmir.

(19.) Bar is the abbreviation of the Hebraic bas reb, which means "the daughter of Mister ..." Thus the name Royzl bar Fishl names the poet as "Royzl the daughter of Mr. Fishl," which has the same meaning as Royzl Fishls, "Fishls" being the possessive case of the name Fishl.

(20.) One can speculate that "Fishls" may be Royzl's married name, the name of her husband, or, less likely, the name of her mother.

(21.) Encyclopaedia Judaica--CD-ROM Edition (Judaica Multimedia (Israel) Ltd.), "Vladimir Volynski."

(22.) The dating of Old Yiddish texts is a highly complex process, and thus the date of composition of Toybe Pan's poem is uncertain. Korman dates it seventeenth century, with a question mark (Yidishe dikhterins: antologye, p. 7). In a conversation at the Hebrew University on June 13, 2000, Professor Chava Tumiansky told me that she believes Toybe Pan's poem was composed and published in the early eighteenth century.

(23.) Toybe Pan, "Eyn sheyn lid naye gemakht/b'loshn tkhines iz vardin oys getrakht," in Ezra Korman, ed., Yidishe dikhterins: antologye (Women Yiddish Poets: Anthology) (Chicago: Farlag L. M. Stein, 1928), pp. 7-17. English translation by Kathryn Hellerstein.

(24.) The variant is found in a microfilm negative at the Jewish National Library at the Hebrew University, in Givat Ram, OPP 8 1103 (34), bar code 6011538560115, titled, "Eyn naye lid gimakht b'loshn tkhine iz vardn oys gitrakht, b'nigun akeyde," from the Bodleian Library, at Oxford University.

(25.) Korman (Yidishe dikhterins: antologye, p. xxxvii) comments on the variant text: "In the variant, B'nign akeyde' (To the melody of 'The Binding of Isaac'), the beginning of the first line is altered. Instead of 'Her got' (Lord God), it reads, 'Foter kinig almekhtiger' (Father Almighty King), and the refrain comes at the beginning of every stanza, instead of at the end. (This was done both according to the new beginning, and the technical equipment of a sentence, to which, in past times, apparently not much attention was given)."

(26.) The fact that Royzl Fishls' poem also centered on David's Psalms suggests that King David the psalmist is a compelling example for later Jewish poets, perhaps especially women. The modern Hebrew poet Esther Raab invokes King David as a fellow poet in her poem, "Holy Grandmothers in Jerusalem," trans. Shirley Kaufman, in Shirley Kaufman, Galit Hasan-Rokem, Tamar S. Hess, eds., The Defiant Muse: Hebrew Feminist Poets from Antiquity to the Present (New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY), 1999, pp. 92-93.

(27.) Moyshe-Leyb Halpern, "Memento Mori," in New York: A Selection, trans. Kathryn Hellerstein (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1982), pp. 80-81.

(28.) Avrom Nowersztern, "'Who Would Have Believed that a Bronze Statue Can Weep': The Poetry of Anna Margolin," trans. Robert Wolf, in Anna Margolin, Lider, ed. Avrom Nowersztern (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1991), pp. xxxiii-xxxv.

(29.) Anna Margolin, Lider, ed. Avrom Nowersztern (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1991), p. 3. All Margolin poems are cited from this edition. English translations are by Kathryn Hellerstein.

(30.) Nowersztern, "Who Would Have Believed," p. xiii.

(31.) Kathryn Hellerstein, "Translating as a Feminist: Reconceiving Anna Margolin," Prooftexts 20, (Winter 2000), pp. 91-108.

(32.) version of Margolin's epitaph is inscribed on her gravestone in New York. See Anna Margolin, Lider, ed. Nowersztern, Epitaf, p. 58, and Zi mit di kalte marmorne brist, p. 136. For a discussion of the two versions of her epitaph, see Naomi Seidman, lecture on Anna Margolin's epitaphs (and other Yiddish poets' gravestones), delivered at the Ninth Annual Symposium of the Philip M. and Ethel Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska (October 27-28, 1996).

(33.) The section on Kadya Molodowsky's "Khad gadya" is adapted from my article, "The Yiddish Poet's Response to the Khurbn: Kadya Molodowsky in America," in Rela M. Geffen and Marcia B. Edelman. eds., Freedom and Responsibility: Exploring the Dillemmas of Jewish Continuity (New York: Ktav, 1998), pp. 233-249.

(34.) Kadya Molodowsky, "Khad gadya," in Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowky, translated, edited, and introduced by Kathryn Hellerstein (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999), pp. 382-385.

(35.) The section on Rokhl Korn's "Rokhl" is adapted from my article, "The Metamorphosis of the Matriarchs in Modern Yiddish Poetry," in Leonard Jay Greenspoon, ed., Yiddish Language & Culture Then & Now (Omaha: Creighton University Press, 1998), pp. 201-231.

(36.) Rokhl Korn, "Rokhl," Bashertkayt: Lider 1928-1948 (Montreal: Montreal Committee, 1949), pp. 100-101. One finds a transliteration and English translation by Kathryn Hellerstein, in "The Metamorphosis of the Matriarchs in Modem Yiddish Poetry," pp. 224-226.

Kathryn Hellerstein is senior Lecturer in Yiddish and Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Hellerstein's books include her translation and study of Moyshe-Leyb Halpern's poems, In New York: A Selection (Jewish Publication Society, 1982), Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky (Wayne State University Press, 1999), and Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology, of which she is co-editor (W. W. Norton, 2000). Her current projects include Anthology of Women Yiddish Poets and a critical book, A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, supported in 1999-2000 by a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation.
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