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This review is taken from PN Review 21, Volume 8 Number 1, September - October 1981.

PROPHET-POET Amir Gilboa, The Light of Lost Suns: Selected Poems, translated by Shirley Kaufman (Menard Press) £3.30
Leon Stroinski, Window: Prose Poems, translated by Adam Czerniawski (Oasis Books)

Amir Gilboa and Leon Stroinski are poets in settings of racial and national tragedy. Gilboa, honoured in Israel, translated here for the first time, is mainly confessional-less in a biographical or anecdotal sense than with psalmodic intensity. He shows a personal, almost childlike awareness of God. After a fall of rain comes a feeling of renewal. 'Well done, my Lord./O Lord, how close we've been.' To convey the atmosphere of his work imagine a voice speaking in the manner of an Old Testament prophet. He is confronting, with his people, two catastrophes- the Holocaust and the possibility of nuclear destruction. In the vision of silence after catastrophe he writes:

And distant. Everything distant. Everything
seeming calm. The rain will fall again
on smoking chimneys. And suddenly
a storm will rage in the rivers.

About Isaac, in the situation explored at length by Kierkegaard, he says wryly: 'Father father come quick and save Isaac/so no one will be missing at lunchtime.' Gilboa's thought ranges widely with force and energy, always disciplined and telling. And he can also surprise with a sort of Chinese irony: 'Finally I go to the man who sets traps for birds/ask his pardon for trying to stop his playing with the lives of others.' In the end he is fated to discover:

Suddenly with force comes the absence of force
Ah the absence of force is dryness . . . ...

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