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: Abraham Sutzkever is the greatest living poet in Yiddish, and one of the great poets of the twentieth century. Born in Smargon, near Vilna, in 1913, Sutzkever entered the world of Yiddish literature in the 1930s, with his first book, simply titled Lider (Poems). It was immediately recognized that he was a poet whose personality, world-view, and approach to image, sound and rhythm were unique and original. His poetry is full of love of nature and love of beauty; it deals too with the mystery of creation and the secrets of the cosmos. He was tempered by the fires of the Holocaust, during which he lost nearly all of his family, and during which he fought as a partisan in the forest near Vilna. he became a poetic witness to the Jewish people's suffering and destruction; his Holocaust poems are distinguished by their personal dimension and intimacy. Since his emigration to Israel in 1947, Sutzkever has become the poetic symbol of Jewish revival and the standard-bearer of Yiddish literature in Israel and the rest of the world; he is the editor of Di Goldene Keyt, the world's pre-eminent Yiddish literary journal.
In the present volume, Sutzkever deals with a broad range of subjects, from childhood to mature love to the beauties of nature to the Holocaust. His unique poetic presence is clearly palpable in these poems, written in deceptively simple but highly evocative language. Though a translation never quite renders the full impact of the original, enough shines through to the English reader to provide a sense of its greatness.