Poetic Comparisons: The Death of Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Rather than Klein's more stagnant relationship with his father, a man locked, in the past, the subject of the poem "Keine Lazarovitch" is almost as complex as the ebb and flux of Jewish life as a whole, rather than one segment of it, and her hold upon Layton is likewise more stormy, cyclical, and complex than the relationship of old to young detailed in Klein's poem about his father.

In Klein's poem the physicality of the father's books function the touchstone with which the poet accesses his father's memory, rather than his physical, father -- the father in death, much like the father in life is of the book, rather than a loving and guiding force, or even a force to be clashed with, as in Layton's poem. Klein's poem makes reference to the father's pamphlets, prayers, and tomes, as if these are the subjects of the man's life entirely, more than being a father, and even the astronomical metaphor towards the end of the poem makes reference to the Torah, rather than the real heavens. The final stanza depicts how the poet, "When reading in these treatises some weird/Miracle, I turned a leaf and found/a white hair fallen from my father's beard." (17-19) Even the physical self of the father is only touched through books, and it is a miracle the poet even has that much of a connection to his remote father of a lost Jewish past of learning.

But although similarly, "Keine Lazarovitch" is a poem of specificity, of specific dates much like the specific Jewish references to the "Books of the Baal Shem Tov, and of his wonders," (5) Layton's poem is a poem of modern specificity and connection, about the loneliness of growing old that the poet once witnessed in his mother, that he now experiences in his own life, rather than the "Pamphlets upon the devil and his crew;

Prayers against road demons, witches, thunders;/and sundry other tomes for a good Jew," of Klein. (8-10) Layton does not take on the older voice of an older Jewish era, as does Klein. Klein's efforts to access his ultimately inaccessible father, lost to another time only come through books -- but Layton's efforts come after he has lived and grown old like his mother, and can appreciate her struggle and frustration with the limits of her existence and advancing age in his own body.

Thus, Layton's struggle is of the flesh, while Klein's is of the book. Klein takes on his father's language, while Taylor remains in his own argot, but still looking on the life of a woman who embraced many different facets of the Jewish experience, scholarly and in the secular, capitalist world. Layton has a connection with his care giving parent that is lost to Klein, and even if this connection was at times painful and difficult for both mother and son, he is still glad for it -- although Klein's eulogy for his father is not reproachful, either, but respectful of the man and the distant Jewish past he represents in his son's eyes.

Works Cited

Klein, a.M. "Heirloom." From 15 Canadian Poets X 3. Edited by Gary Geddes. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Layton, Irving. "Keine Lazarovitch: 1870-1959." From 15 Canadian Poets X 3. Edited by Gary Geddes. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Klein, a.M. "Heirloom." From 15 Canadian Poets X 3. Edited by Gary Geddes. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Layton, Irving. "Keine Lazarovitch: 1870-1959." From 15 Canadian Poets X 3. Edited by Gary Geddes. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

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