The Deronda Review
The following letter was sent out with the Vol. I, No. 2 of The Deronda Review:
June 2008/Sivan 5768
Dear fellow-poets and friends of poetry,
This issue, planned for early spring, arrives
about midsummer, a little out of season
and, for these months of sunlight, somewhat dark.
We’d hoped at first it would come out in April,
that month most welcome yet at times most cruel,
when the returning sun that brings new life
unthaws our grief for what will not revive –
a season doubly fated for remembrance
to those who stand attentive when the sirens
wail for the Holocaust and Israel’s wars –
woes that have often sought relief in song,
and we had meant to give them one more channel,
in the form of a commemorative section,
preceded by our usual first chapters
of meteorology and social comment
and followed by two rounds in celebration
of humankind’s more hopeful occupations,
the work of marriage and the work of art,
and last, a hymn to the enduring soul.
And that is, more or less, this issue’s plan;
but there’s been extra work of mourning laid
upon our shoulders, and therefore the space
given to grief has had to be expanded.
We had, before it this happened, chanced to see
a little of the early work of Hirshfeld,
a poet known among his friends, in circles
of that brave youth which just in these late years
begins to fashion a poetic voice
to tell itself, perhaps someday the world,
the meaning of its own persistent presence
in the Judaean hills, although besieged
by those who have no kindness for the world.
We’d thought about translating. Could we capturethe freshness of the word-play and the rhythms,
and might it be too soon to let the light
of publication in upon that process?
Then came that headline in the paper, and
Yonadav Haim Hirshfeld was a name
upon a list, all future songs unsung.
And so we are including here two poems
by Yonadav, and tributes to another
mowed down that evening. Such things are left
of all they might have given.
Yet one comfort
was felt in the aftermath of this great loss
as the stories of these eight young men were told
who, as one teacher of the movement noted,*
had led good lives of prayer, good deeds and learning,
the kind of life whose value’s not eclipsed
by death, and that can teach us not to fear.
Our website soon will have a page devoted
to the memory of the Eight, in hopes the knowledge
of who they were will strike some sparks of friendship
for those in whom their valiant life continues –
their siblings and their friends – and may inspire us
on those occasions when we have some chance
to stand up for what’s worthy in our world.
In other news, we’ve added to our website
a page by Yala Korwin, with her lovely
paintings of “Dawn” and “Dusk,” with poems to match,
in “Kippat Binah,” where soon we also hope
to feature Judy Belsky; in “Hexagon Forum”
a wealth of poems by Eugene Narrett
– lyric, deep-rooted in the Western soil –
that complement his prose in Israel’s cause;
and on the page for The Consciousness of Earth
Lee Evans has a poem, “The Natural Bridge,”
as a “kindred vision”: others would be welcome.
Last, we must strike another mourning note:
our long-time colleague Leonard Eskowitz
died of leukemia this spring in Boston.
His poems in the Hexagon Forum, dating
back to the ‘70's, some of them, reveal
the struggles of a cultivated spirit
in this not-always-cultivated world,
a life of little leisure, yet enlarged
by learning and by sympathy. We hope
for happier news, and a good growing season
for what may nourish us in times ahead.
Esther Cameron, Editor