Blossoms in Snow: Austrian Refugee Poets in Manhattan
The term refugee conjures up crowds desperately on the move, hungry, bewildered, often poor, and carrying all their possessions. The Austrians, whose poems are recorded in Blossoms in Snow risked their lives to get to the United States. They did not fit this pattern. Many were intellectuals, educated professionals, fleeing from the Nazi regime as it gathered momentum in the late 1930s, targeting Jews and other minorities.
Man and woman of Manhattan,
keep the Bible always nearby,
in leather, gilt-edged, Technicolor,
or simply pocket-sized. (Alfred Gong)
They left behind possessions, careers, relatives whom they would not see again. Many came to Manhattan, established themselves, attempted to pick up the pieces…and wrote poetry, Joshua Parker has selected their poems, translated them from German.
A fly’s buzz
At the window, monotone
If I spoke to it a bit,
Would I feel slightly less alone? (Maria Berl-lee)
They were energized or enervated, overwhelmed, driven. Words reflect their emotions and the images of buildings they beheld:
This is a dream, fantastic as a dream,
When the giants light themselves up at night,
Towers with a thousand dungeon cells so bright
Drowning in light… (Ernst Waldinger)
Created mostly when the experience of migration was new, the poems are not only eloquent but also poignant and disturbing, above all memorable.
|University of New Orleans Press
|Buy this Book
|Poetry & Short Stories