Pass­ing Over: Poems

  • Review
By – March 2, 2012
Pass­ing Over explores the tran­sient nature of the tem­po­ral and divine con­nec­tion which Jews and non-Jews con­tin­ue to study and con­tem­plate. Obser­va­tions and inter­pre­ta­tions fuel and dis­turb the poet. In Yes Then No,” fear of the pres­ence of his Jew­ish back­ground pre­vails because it is the pres­ence of absence…some cer­e­mo­ni­al urgency, / the his­to­ry of his youth…and the past makes promis­es it can­not keep.” In ATomb for Ernst Bloch,” the Marx­ist philoso­pher of hope, the author rec­og­nizes, An old pow­er still broods here, dream­ing of full­ness and loss.” A strange trib­ute fol­lows to the lit­er­ary crit­ic Northrop Frye, mum­bling a kad­dish for the myth of res­ur­rec­tion, / the unruly corpse we can­not put to rest.” Desire and embrac­ing life is the poet’s kiss of bless­ing that may exude pow­er but may also founder as it returns to the cre­ator of the poet­ic word. The title poem, Pass­ing Over,” Mara,” and the remain­ing poems con­sid­er the Torah and in par­tic­u­lar the Hag­gadah Passover sto­ry cel­e­brat­ed in Finkelstein’s lyri­cal, beau­ti­ful, and haunt­ing man­ner. The read­er will rec­og­nize and respond to his warm, elu­sive invi­ta­tion, Those at the door are wel­come in our wan­der­ing / sus­tained by frag­ments—let them come and eat.”
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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