The Deronda Review
The following letter was sent out with the Vol. II, No. 2 of The Deronda Review:
Dear fellow-poets and friends of poetry,
The summer ripens as we send this issue,
the tiger lilies have begun to bloom,
the thistle’s purple heads have turned to grey
round Madison; while in Jerusalem,
summer’s white heat won’t lift for a while yet.
The Three Weeks of the mourning for that Temple
destroyed so long ago and ever again
in history’s compulsive repetition
approach their culmination and their end;
and by the time you read this we’ll have chanted
Isaiah’s consolations, and be looking
toward the commemoration of Creation,
the Ten Days of reflection and atonement,
after which we shall defy the chill
of autumn in our Festival of Booths.
Thus does the reckoning that dates itself
from that first “Let there be” run oftentimes
counter to the mood-mandate of the sun.
Amid the weariness of winter’s wane
we bade our joy increase. Then, as the spring
tuned up its orchestra, trotted out its finery,
we were forbidden music, mirth and marriage
for seven weeks, and in that time instructed
to work on straightening out (using as guide
the permutations of the seven Sephirot)
whatever crookednesses in our hearts
might hold up the general recognition
of the Divine intention for our people
and for our world: the giving of the Law,
which then we celebrated. But not long
after that feast, at summer’s very height,
comes this three-week reminder of, again,
failure, collapse, destruction.
All this, we think, is meant to keep us conscious
that in our hope for Zion’s restoration
and for the Earth’s repair, we have to call
upon a power beyond this cyclic world
whose pattern of recurrence fails to mask
a Downward of inexorable decline,
which the Divine renewing spirit alone
opposes and turns back, through our return
to our true selves from serving time’s delusions.
We think the Who-knows-whence of the true poem
perhaps is somewhere in the neighborhood
of that same place from which renewal springs –
although, to seek that place, the poem may
go counter to the drift of its own time.
With this in mind the seasonable and
unseasonable songs collected here
were chosen, by the best light that we had.
But since Days of Awe, already seen
on the horizon, bring with them the duty
to own and try to rectify our blunders,
let us already try to rectify
some blunders in this issue: the omission
of Ida Fasel’s “Milton on My Mind”
and Sue Komet’s “The End of Links in the Chain” –
you’ll find them on the back – which somehow slipped
out of the sequences “On Common Sand”
and “Spirit of Create,” respectively;
we’ll print them in the magazine next time,
but want to have them present here already.
In the Exchange, Roberta Chester’s address
should be firstname.lastname@example.org,
and we did not intentionally omit
to note I. Century’s book, The Coffeehouse
of Jewish Dreamers. For any other errors
we likewise earnestly desire your pardon.
Lastly, we’d like to bring to your attention
a recent work that comforts our endeavor:
The Jewish Odyssey of George Eliot
by Gertrude Himmelfarb, whose other works,
we think, might help us to solidify
our rational vision of a Western culture
that could keep faith with Israel and itself.
There would be much to say upon such topics,
in prose, as well as verse. In hope of which,
this fall a blog is planned, to supplement
our magazine. We’d like it to become
a site to which you’ll turn for better news
than nonpoetic journals can supply.
After the Feast of Booths, in late October,
we’d like to hear from you with essays, stories
and any thoughts that may chime in with these.
Wishing you all a season of renewal,
Esther Cameron, Editor