I have a new neighbor. More correctly: I am the new one, since she was here since 1900. Yesterday as I was walking the doggies on the beach, I looked up on the house next to ours, and I saw I sign: “The poet, Rachel Bluwstein lived and worked in this house…” As got home I got myself into the grove… I mean Google, and I have to say: now I’m in love!
Rachel was born in northern Russia in 1890, and died in Tel Aviv in 1931 of tuberculosis, which she contracted while working in schools for refugee children during World War I in Russia. All her poetry was published under her first name only, sometimes spelled ‘Rachel’, sometimes ‘Ra’hel’. Rachel immigrated to Palestine in 1909, during the period of Ottoman rule, and lived for nearly four years at an agricultural girls’ school on the shores of the Kinneret. In 1913 she traveled to France to study agronomy, and spent the war years in Russia. The poet returned to Palestine in 1919, to Kibbutz Degania, but soon left, as her illness prevented her from working with children, and made physical labor an impossibility as well. She lived out her last years in loneliness in a room in Tel Aviv, and was buried at the Kinneret.
Most of her poetry was published in her last years, her language is so simple and clear, her descriptions deep and emotional; her love poems emphasize pain, loneliness and longing, while the rest often treat the strong connection to the landscape, to biblical figures, to human fate and the puzzle of death. I’m so proud and happy that she is not lonely anymore… I’m her new neighbor.
“Spring and early morning –
do you remember that spring, that day? –
our garden at the foot of Mount Carmel,
facing the blue of the bay?
You are standing under an olive,
and I, like a bird on a spray,
am perched on the silvery tree-top.
We are cutting black branches away.
From below, your saw’s rhythmic buzzing
reaches me in my tree,
and I rain down from above you
aragments of poetry.
Remember that morning, that gladness?
They were – and disappeared,
like the short spring of our country,
the short spring of our years.”
Rachel Bluwstein – Our Garden