A Ballad with a Flair,
September 10, 2013
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This review is from: Home (Kindle Edition)I was penetrated by a pouring rain
And for a moment, somehow, I felt alive again
Sensing me, the worms began to rave
I plucked a wildflower from my grave.
These four lines written by Zeev Kachel and translated by his daughter Uvi Poznansky resonated with me like no other poetry in English ever had. They seemed to have reached something deep in my soul. I was surprised and enchanted and kept reading, enjoying every line of this emotional collection and wondering what it was that kept drawing me in. Eventually, after reading through Uvi's blog, I figured out what that mysterious soul connection was: when Uvi was little, her father used to read to her the poetry of Pushkin, a beloved Russian poet and one of my favorite writers of all time, in Russian. She didn't understand the words until he translated them for her, but the rhythm, the sound, and the soul of his poetry must have reached Uvi through the linguistic barrier. Quite amazing. But let me share a few of my favorite lines from "Home."
Things are no longer
Where things ought to be
Who is this stranger
Is it still me?
These lines, written by Uvi, appeal to me because of the profound meaning behind their apparent simplicity. As life moves forward and we get busy with everyday activities, we tend not to notice the passage of time, only to stop one day and suddenly realize how much life has changed around us and how much we ourselves have changed.
Another emotion that I was drawn to is that of life-affirming defiance no matter what life's circumstances are. Just take a look at this stanza (also by Uvi):
Sing out a ballad of passion and hate
Sing it out as you drown, and ignore that date
Someone may notice, may listen out there
So quicken the pounding, sing out with a flair
My interpretation of this idea of "singing a ballad" is that music and song are some of the purest, most ancient, and most raw ways to express emotions "with a flair."
As I read further and got to the section of the book that contains poetry written by Uvi's father, Zeev Kachel (and translated by Uvi), I could see the similarities in their spirit. In the two lines below, the idea that life is not nearly as sweet and innocent as we often expect, is expressed eloquently and concisely:
Ma, why did you fool me, what was it for,
When you sang me a lullaby, not a song of war?
And more life-affirming defiance in these next lines:
In the distance, you seem to spot a shelter
But all I see is an endless universe
Come on, Troika! Snow sparkles on your lashes
Let's charge to the horizon, let us charge our course!
What I see here is the spirit of independence, the idea of finding your own way, of moving forward fearlessly with no thought of resting, stopping, hiding, or seeking refuge from adversity - strong emotions eloquently expressed. The feelings behind these poems reminded me of the poetry of Anna Akhmatova, a famous Russian modernist poet who lived through and wrote about Stalinist terror.
This poetry collection by Uvi and her father shines with the same spirit of defiance in the face of a great loss, combines lyrical poetry with a strong voice, and presents rhymes that reverberate with the rhythm of our hearts and our lives. Highly recommended.