Hear O Lord: Poems from the Dis­tur­bances of 2000 – 2009

Eli­az Cohen; Lar­ry Barak, trans.
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
Eli­az Cohen might be reflec­tive of a broad­er Israeli sen­ti­ment toward the trou­bles beset­ting that coun­try over the last ten years. His poems resound with love of the land of Israel, abound­ing with agri­cul­tur­al and sen­su­al rich­ness. How­ev­er, it is also a place cry­ing out with sor­row and pain over con­tin­u­al con­flict with its neigh­bors and lack of inter­na­tion­al sup­port. Con­sid­er how the prophets and teach­ers of old still walk the land to address the ever-present bur­den of con­flict in Kislev, on the Way to Hebron,” “…The oaks wept to us when we approached/​the city/​a third old man came into view/…and behold he was play­ing a thin flute carved from cane…Even when he came close to us/​we could not explain how/​the flute land­ed on our head/​releasing from each of us swarms/​swarms bear­ing a sho­far and torches/​we came/​to con­quer the inner palace and the tem­ples.” Or con­tem­plate the cur­rent enmi­ty between Jacob and Ish­mael, Ish­mael is hurtling stones —/’Words’ he shouts —/​at me/​words hard­er than stones, and where were you/​when they drove me away at dawn with a flask of water/​our son/​Ishmael cries/​will jos­tle with­in us will serve each other/​will con­join with lad­ders, angels, women/​will hurl at each oth­er mem­o­ries…” Vivid scenes con­vey the hor­ror of serv­ing in the mil­i­tary as one march­es or gazes at the ter­ror and blood­shed from the top of a mil­i­tary tank. Yet with­in the hor­rors item­ized lies ever­last­ing hope for a Mes­si­ah, name­less and hid­ing, yet com­ing to bring a holy peace to the painful, haunt­ing enmi­ty that has endured far too long. 
Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

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