Har­vest of Blos­soms: Poems from a Life Cut Short

Sel­ma Meer­baum-Eisinger; Irene Sil­verblatt and Helene Sil­verblatt, eds.
  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

Sto­ries of man­u­scripts hid­den, smug­gled, saved, and ulti­mate­ly pub­lished, course through Holo­caust lit­er­a­ture. New to the genre is Har­vest of Blos­soms, some­what atyp­i­cal because it is poet­ry, and writ­ten by a girl who died in the less­er-known Michailowka, Ruma­nia, camp in 1942, at age eigh­teen. Trans­lat­ed from Ger­man (she was mul­ti­lin­gual), her writ­ing these fifty poems of death, ado­les­cent love, fright, with many recall­ing nature’s beau­ty, com­fort­ed her before and dur­ing incarceration.

The two edi­tors, next-gen­er­a­tion cousins of Sel­ma, have writ­ten an exten­sive intro­duc­tion. Detail­ing not only the poet’s volatile and live­ly life, but the efforts of Selma’s cousin, poet Paul Celan, to bring the man­u­script to pub­li­ca­tion, the intro­duc­tion includes a cap­sule his­to­ry of her native city, Czer­nowitz, and its Jew­ish, mul­ti­lin­gual cul­ture and post-war implo­sion into Cher­niv­it­si, UKR

The poems, all short, touch both remem­bered joy “[the riv­er] foams and roars and laughs at the chunks of ice,” with the end she know­ing­ly faced “…fade like smoke, and leave no trace.” Through her poet­ry, Sel­ma Meer­baum-Eisinger has not. Acknowl­edg­ments, intro­duc­tion, notes, sug­gest­ed fur­ther read­ings and media.

Arlene B. Soifer earned degrees in Eng­lish, and has had many years of expe­ri­ence as a free­lance writer, edi­tor, and pub­lic rela­tions professional.

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