Friday, July 27, 2012

Jews in Solitude

Woke up this morning with a line from Adrienne Rich in my head:  "What is a Jew in solitude?"

That's the opening line of her wonderful poem "Yom Kippur, 1984."  Haven't read it in years, but it haunts me.  To borrow a phrase from Molly Peacock, it's one of my talisman poems, although I hadn't really realized that until now.

I'm feeling "in solitude" now for any number of reasons, but they're personal, which means I'll write about them (if I do) over at In the Rain. Poetically speaking, what interests me here is the coincidence that followed an hour or two after breakfast.

Still thinking of Rich, I opened a package from the poet Benjamin Hollander:  a padded envelope containing two of his books, Vigilance and Rituals of Truce and the Other Israeli.  (I've never read him, but he contacted me out of the blue, and seems like an interesting guy.)  Opened the latter, and what did I read?  This, from Edmund Jabes:
I only know that, due to circumstance, solitude has become the profound destiny of the Jew.  The State of Israel not only doesn't break that solitude, it often aggravates it.   
            --From the Desert to the Book (tr. Pierre Joris)
Don't know much about "destiny," don't know much theology, don't know much about a holy book, don't know much about the Hebrew I took, but that last sentence?

It's the emess.  True dat, as they say.

Back to my Fortress of Solitude, folks.  More on the books as I read 'em.

No comments: