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Aimé Césaire

Revisiting the Poetry

Ronnie Scharfman

In July 1989, as part of the celebration of the Bicentennial of the French Revolution, the great Martinican poet, playwright, and essayist Aimé Césaire was a special invitee of the Avignon Theatre Festival. I led a round table with him then in the context of the Institut d'Études Françaises of Bryn Mawr College. In his remarks he also read two unpublished poems. One of them, "Parcours," which I translate here as "Journey," is the subject of this article. This piece constitutes a reading of the poem as the poet's looking back, metaphorically, on his poetic journey, fifty years after the publishing of his epic poem, "Cahier d'un retour au pays natal" in 1939. This theme of looking back becomes a way to meditate on my own intellectual trajectory as a scholar of Césaire's poetry. I conclude with a poem of my own, on "Rereading Césaire Thirty Years On."

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Erika Fox

The Moon of Moses is the title of a work of mine for solo cello, composed in 1992 and inspired by the following poem from the collected works of First World War poet, Isaac Rosenberg.

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Seán Hutton

Travelling West by Rita Kelly (Arlen House, 2000) ISBN 1903631025 £7.99

The Water Horse: Poems in Irish by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, with translations by Medbh McGuckian and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Gallery Books, 1999) ISBN 1852352329 £8.95

Ad Infinitum: Gedichte und Epigramme; Poems and Epigrams; Dántaagus Burdúin by Michael Augustin; translated by Hans- Christian Oeser,Gabriel Rosenstock a thiontaigh go Gaeilge (Dublin: Coiscéim, 2001) £5

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Hidden Scripts

The Social Evolution of Alterman's “Don't You Give Them Guns”

Efrat Ben-Ze'ev

Nathan Alterman's poem “Don't You Give Them Guns” echoed European post–World War I anti-war literature. Curiously, the poem turned into a key text in a ritual instituted by members of the elite Jewish underground fighting force, the Palmach, which was established during World War II. This article is an attempt to understand how a pacifist poem came to be used by Jewish-Israeli soldiers at the heart of the 1948 War of Independence. In terms of theory, the analysis dwells on the relations between text and social context, arguing that alternative social ideas conceal themselves in poetry and other literary forms. These texts can be likened to undercurrents that preserve hidden social concerns. To follow the changing role of such texts, the article considers the fate of “Don't You Give Them Guns” from its birth in 1934 to its later manifestations in the early twenty-first century.

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Vivian Liska

A close reading of three poems written in the aftermath of the Holocaust – Paul Celan's 'Vor einer Kerze', Nelly Sachs' 'Die Stimme Israels' and Marie Luise Kaschnitz' 'Zoon Politikon' – discloses different positions assigned to the child that are paradigmatic for poetry 'after Auschwitz'. The three poems invoke the child as carrier of memory and continuity, and therefore as a link between past and future. However, the temporal modes in which this link is inscribed in each case could hardly be more different. These modes correspond to temporalities associated with the child in traditional – respectively Jewish, romantic, 'enlightened' – discourses. While Celan's figure of the child is bent on eternally holding a wake over the past, Sachs poetically conjures up a reawakening in the guise of a child resurrected in the poetic present. In Kaschnitz' poem, which addresses the perpetrators, the child is evoked as the voice awakening an as yet somnolent conscience to responsibilities to be taken up in the future. A close reading of three poems written in the aftermath of the Holocaust – Paul Celan's 'Vor einer Kerze', Nelly Sachs' 'Die Stimme Israels' and Marie Luise Kaschnitz' 'Zoon Politikon' – discloses different positions assigned to the child that are paradigmatic for poetry 'after Auschwitz'. The three poems invoke the child as carrier of memory and continuity, and therefore as a link between past and future. However, the temporal modes in which this link is inscribed in each case could hardly be more different. These modes correspond to temporalities associated with the child in traditional – respectively Jewish, romantic, 'enlightened' – discourses. While Celan's figure of the child is bent on eternally holding a wake over the past, Sachs poetically conjures up a reawakening in the guise of a child resurrected in the poetic present. In Kaschnitz' poem, which addresses the perpetrators, the child is evoked as the voice awakening an as yet somnolent conscience to responsibilities to be taken up in the future.

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After our Winter 2013 special issue, which contained 17 articles focusing intently on all (or almost all) aspects of the family in Israel, we have changed lenses and are presenting quite a bit of variety in this issue. We start off with Efrat Ben-Ze’ev’s provocative article “Hidden Scripts: The Social Evolution of Alterman’s ‘Don’t You Give Them Guns,’” which investigates the transformation in meaning of that single phrase in Israeli society as a whole, but particularly the poem’s significance in the annual commemoration ceremony held by a specific Palmach unit. It is a fascinating exploration of meaning using the tools of an anthropologist.

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Eleni Philippou

“Epitaphic” features two poems that were written to speak to the poet’s interest in commemorating or capturing past moments, events, or persons. “Topographies” is concerned with the interplay between transience and permanence—the passing of time, changing relationships, but also the altering of emotional and physical landscapes. The poem largely speaks to a process of loss and memory, both on a macrocosmic or geographical level, and on a smaller, intimate level. Similarly, “Thanatos” connects with the broad theme of loss, particularly humanity’s inability to recognize, appease, or ameliorate the suffering of the animal Other

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'Eros/Thanatos a pair'

The Dialectic of Life and Death in Tony Harrison's Laureate's Block

Hans Osterwalder

The dialectic of life and death is a persistent theme in Tony Harrison’s poetry. Some of his greatest poems are dominated by this subject: ‘A Kumquat for John Keats’, ‘Cyprus and Cedar’, ‘The Lords of Life’, to name just a few. Critics have repeatedly highlighted this feature: Sandy Byrne’s pioneering book states that ‘most reviews of Harrison’s work begin by saying that it is concerned with division, or that it is dialectical’; she then goes on to state that ‘[m]any of the poems’ protagonists abound in ambiguities, inconsistencies and paradoxes’. In a much quoted interview with John Haffenden, Harrison sketches out that fundamental paradoxical division of his personality

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'I think it would be better to be a Jew'

Anne Sexton and the Holocaust

Melanie Waters

Writing in postwar America for an eighteen-year period between 1956 and 1974, the poet Anne Sexton was repeatedly drawn to the Holocaust, and its awkward cultural legacy, as a source of creative inspiration. Still, while her contemporary, Sylvia Plath, has generated a series of fierce debates as a result of the Nazi–Jew symbolism in her poems ‘Daddy’ (1962) and ‘Lady Lazarus’ (1962), there have been no sustained excavations of Sexton’s own complex relationship to the Holocaust. In this article, I aim to shed new light on Sexton’s use of Holocaust imagery by making detailed reference to three of her poems: ‘My Friend, My Friend’ (1959), ‘Hansel and Gretel’ (1971), and ‘After Auschwitz’ (1974). Written at various stages in her career, these poems not only engage with the subject matter of the Holocaust at the level of content, but also at the level of form. More explicitly, these poems display a range of formal eccentricities that register the difficulties of converting the Holocaust into poetry and which, I argue, might be usefully reconsidered alongside recent theoretical discourses on aesthetics, psychoanalysis, and trauma.

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Rennie Parker, John Weston, Derrick Buttress, Sue Dymoke, Tim Thorne, K.F. Pearson, Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, and Hugh Underhill

Thirty Two Poems in the Style of Simon Armitage Personality Fuel RENNIE PARKER

Still Life JOHN WESTON

The Poet of Dluga Street DERRICK BUTTRESS

The Undertaking Final Duty SUE DYMOKE

Meditation on Parliament House, Canberra TIM THORNE

An Analysis of his Portrait K.F. PEARSON

Reduced MICHAEL BARTHOLOMEW-BIGGS

Township Historian HUGH UNDERHILL