Rabbi Avi Weinstein

Avrom Sutzkever: The Greatest Yiddish Poet of the Last Century

In Uncategorized on February 1, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Jeremy Dauber has written a wonderful appreciation of the great Yiddish poet, Avrom Sutzkever who so eloquently rendered the unthinkable in words in TNR.  When his one year old child was poisoned by the Germans in a Warsaw hospital, Dauber tells us that:

Less than a year later, Sutzkever would write a poem from a child’s viewpoint begging its mother to:

strangle me with your Mama fingers

That played
On my willow cradle.
It will mean:
Your love is stronger than death.
It will mean:
You trusted me with your love.

Nevertheless, Sutzkever never lost his sense of wonder:

Over a pile of steaming horse dung,
I warm my icy hands.
I warm my hands and regret:
Not enough have I known, have I listened
To the greatness of smallness.
Sometimes,
The warm breath of a pile of dung
May become a poem, a thing of beauty.

Read the whole thing–it’s worth it.

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