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These Mountains

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These Mountains

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These Mountains
Selected Poems of Rivka Miriam
By Rivka Miriam
Translated by Linda Stern Zisquit
Hebrew-English Edition
The Toby Press, (2009)
ISBN: 978-1-59264-249-6

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - April 27, 2011

These Mountains: Selected Poems of Rivka Miriam is a marvelous collection of emotionally rich and expressive poems that span the breadth of Rivka Miriam's career as a poet. The daughter of Leib Rochman, the famed Yiddish writer, Miriam published her first book of poetry in 1966 when she was only fourteen. She has since published a total of twelve books of poetry, along with several short story collections, a couple of children's books, and more. Miriam has won numerous awards for her literary efforts, and has twice been awarded Israel's Prime Minister's Award.

These Mountains is a unique book in that not only does it contain Miriam's soul stirring poems, but also because they are presented in the original Hebrew and in English translation. The poems in this collection were translated into English by Linda Stern Zisquit, who first began translating Miriam's poems in 1978. Her admiration of the author's poems is obvious in the pains that she took to capture Miriam's cadence and unparalleled voice in the English translations.

Miriam is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and the horrors suffered by her family find expression in some of the poems. These poems also reflect Miriam's love for the Land of Israel. In addition, her poems incorporate not only Biblical and classical Jewish references, but also contemporary and historical ones as well. The overriding feeling that I had after reading these poems was hope. Miriam's poems are at times simplistic, and it is this very simplicity that touches your spirit, and reminds you that even in the darkest of times, redemption will come.

If you are not familiar with Rivka Miriam's poetry, you will find that this volume offers you a delightful overview of her work, with poems selected from all twelve of her poetry books. The book is designed so that you will find the original Hebrew version of each poem on the left-hand page, with the English translation on the facing right-hand page. This dual-edition is a must have volume for students of Hebrew, as it enables you to read the Hebrew text, yet provides you with a solid English translation, should you come across any words or phrases that you don't understand. It also makes a very nice change of pace from simply reading dialogs where two individuals discuss where they are from or what they are studying at University! Best of all, this volume makes Miriam's poems accessible to an English reading audience who might not yet be familiar with her work.


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