Poems, by A. M. Klein
Mr. Klein’s poems are academic, semi-religious verse about (1) representative experiences of the moderately religious life and (2) the persecution of the Jews during the present quantitatively unique intensification of the Diaspora. Let me consider them first as poetry; second, as religious poetry; third, as responses to, expressions of, the Third Reich’s systematic liquidation of the Jews of Europe.
In the first place, pieces like these are not poetry but verse; even a glance at their language is enough to bring this home to the reader. The language has none of the exact immediacy, the particular reality of the language of a successful poem; it has instead the voluntary repetition of the typical mannerisms of poetry in general—mannerisms that become a generalized, lifeless, and magical ritual without the spirit of which they were once the peculiar expression. Mr. Klein uses forms and metres, epithets and rhetoric, with the innocent freedom of the born writer of verse—who is always, willing or unwilling, at ease in Zion. If he were to make himself into a poet he would be appalled to see everything suddenly difficult beyond hope, to find himself without even the illusion of freedom.
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