Inher­i­tance (Yerushe)

Peretz Mark­ish; Mary Schul­man, trans.
  • Review
By – March 2, 2012
Peretz Mark­ish, one of the most enig­mat­ic and over­looked Yid­dish poets of the 20th cen­tu­ry, is final­ly giv­en a voice in this brand new edi­tion of a clas­sic trans­la­tion of his work. Born in Vol­hy­nia, Ukraine, the birth­place of Haim Nach­man Bia­lik and some of Hasidic Judaism’s most famous rab­bis, Mark­ish moved to War­saw in 1921 and formed Di Khalias­tre, or The Gang, which strug­gled against real­ism in Yid­dish lit­er­a­ture. He con­tin­ued to pub­lish in the inter­war peri­od and in 1926 began a peri­od of deep poet­ic ded­i­ca­tion to Sovi­et ide­ol­o­gy, and pro­duced works in Yid­dish that crit­ics regard as his most effec­tive verse. In Yerushe, a bilin­gual text mod­eled on an edi­tion pub­lished in Argenti­na in 1959, each page illu­mi­nates the emo­tion­al zing embed­ded in his cries of patri­o­tism, vengeance, and mourn­ing. In his famous To a Jew­ish Dancer, Mark­ish writes: Tell it / my home­less one, enchant it so it remem­bers / Right now you’re danc­ing for a flock of moun­tains / for in the world there’s no one left for you / and you have no one to turn to,” express­ing the sub­dued, almost mys­ti­fied sor­row that would char­ac­ter­ize his work in the after­math of the Holo­caust. Nev­er­the­less, this new vol­ume of his work serves as a spec­tac­u­lar exam­ple of Yid­dish resilience. Mark­ish was award­ed the Order of Lenin in 1939 and exe­cut­ed by Stal­in in 1952, accused of Jew­ish nationalism.
Eliyahu Rosen cur­rent­ly lives in Boston, MA with his wife Jen­ni, and is an MBA-MS can­di­date at the Boston Uni­ver­si­ty School of Management.

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