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Pagis, Author, Dan Pagis, Author North Point Press $9.95 (153p) ISBN 978-0-86547-384-3
Writing in propulsive, staccato sentences, commanding, denying, questioning, at times taking almost a pedagogic stance, Pagis (1930-1986) was one of the most vibrant voices in modern Israeli poetry. A concentration camp survivor, he neither would nor could forget. His poems are surreal, although grounded in a palpable horror--``As to the yellow star: / it will be torn from your chest / immediately / and will emigrate / to the sky.'' Often he reveals a darker side to familiar Old Testament passages: ``The most terrible thing of all is that Job never existed and was just a parable'' or ``The great fish that vomited out Jonah / swallowed nothing more. Without any prophecy in his guts, he pined away. . . . gangs of crabs / surrounded him, delighted in him, picked him clean.'' Death-camp memories are distorted to fit a postwar world in verse selected from later books, as Pagis casts an ironic eye on his environment, accepting survival as a question of chance and point of view. In ``The Limits of Physics,'' a boy sits and waits in an armchair with a lightning rod on his head; in ``Brain,'' man's brain declares, ``I'm just a dream.'' Mitchell, known for his translations of Rilke, creates supple, luminous renditions. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
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