Poems of a Jew

Poems of a Jew

Poems of a Jew

Poems of a Jew

Excerpt

These poems are not for poets. They are for people who derive some strength of meaning from the writings of poets and who seek in the poet's mind some clue to their own thoughts. It is good to read poems for their own sake, but it is also good to read them as documents. These poems are documents of an obsession. This obsession, I believe, is universal and timeless; the Jew is at its center, but everyone else partakes of it.

The poems which I have collected for this volume do not provide answers or even ask questions; rather, they present the evidence as I see it, the states of mind which in my case led to the writing of poems, and which in others might lead to making money or becoming a comedian. There is no goal or objective here, unless expression is the goal itself. Poetry is everywhere at its goal, a wise critic once said. And one might add in paraphrase: the Jew is everywhere at his goal.

The Jewish Question, whatever that might be, is not my concern. Nor is Judaism. Nor is Jewry. Nor is Israel. The religious question is not my concern. I am one of those who views with disgust and disappointment the evangelism of the twentieth century and the backsliding of artists and intellectuals toward religion. The artist's contribution to religion must in the nature of things be heretical. These poems, in any case, are not religious poems but the poems of a Jew.

No one has been able to define Jew, and in essence this defiance of definition is the central meaning of Jewish consciousness. For to be a Jew is to be in a certain state of consciousness which is inescapable. As everyone knows, a Jew who becomes an atheist remains a Jew. A Jew who becomes a Catholic remains a Jew. Being a Jew is the consciousness of being a Jew, and the Jewish identity, with or . . .

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