חיים גורי, 'שושנת רוחות'

Translated title of the contribution: Haim Gouri," Compass Rose

R. Weissbrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Translated title of the contributionHaim Gouri," Compass Rose
Original languageHebrew
Pages (from-to)157-182
JournalJerusalem Studies in Hebrew Literature
StatePublished - 1997

Bibliographical note

Compass Rose (1960) was Haim Gouri's fourth collection of poems. In spite of its artistic value and the light it sheds on the transition from the Palmach generation to the State-of-Israel generation in modern Hebrew poetry, it has not attracted much scholarly or critical attention. This article aims to fill the gap, if only in part. Gouri's earlier poetry, especially his first collection, Flowers of Fire (1949), was representative of Palmach-generation poetry, both in its involvement in the national situation and in its poetic features. The latter bore the imprint of the poetics developed in the 1930s by modernist Hebrew poets, mainly Shlonsky and Alterman. In contrast, Compass Rose bears some resemblance to the poetry of such State-generation poets as Zach, Amichai and Avidan. However, Gouri did not entirely close the gap between the two generations. Though his rhythm and style, metaphors and tone, changed considerably, he did not adopt a cosmopolitan mood as State-generation poets often do; his poems were still rooted in the national arena. The feelings he expressed, though private, also echoed the 'national mood'. His tone lacked the pathos so typical of earlier Hebrew poetry, including his own. But the human figures filling his poems, many of them variations on the theme of Odysseus returning home to realize how lonely and forgotten he was, were portrayed with great compassion. His poetry possessed neither Zach's sharp irony nor Avidan's sarcasm. This article describes the general features of Compass Rose and their manifestation in specific poems. It demonstrates the affinity between the 'new' Gouri and the State-generation poets, at the same time tracing Gouri's former identity in these later poems.

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