David Hofshteyn’s Poetry of Listening



David Hofshteyn, Hefker concept, Hefker, Kyiv pogroms, Bay vegn, Troyer, Ba- yamim ha-hem


This essay examines the multiple resonances of the Jewish term hefker (literally, “unclaimed, abandoned, or neglected property”) as a modernist, aesthetic, political, and ethical category in the early work of the Yiddish poet David Hofshteyn, including his 1919 debut volume Bay Vegn (“On the Road”), his pogrom lament 1922 Troyer (“Grief”), and the virtually unknown “Ba-yamim ha-hem” (“In those days”), a Hebrew prose poem from 1925. I attempt to shed light on aspects of his modernist poetic practice, not merely in terms of stylistics but, more broadly, in terms of his poetic orientation in the world. This includes the sensory experience of joy and pleasure, as well as his encounter with the violence of the Kyiv pogroms of 1919. I begin with a brief discussion of hefker in the literary milieu, then turn to Bay Vegn and Hofshteyn’s exploration of sensory listening. The second part of the essay turns to Troyer, tracing how the term ‘hefker’ adds an ethical dimension to the practice of listening. I conclude with the Hebrew prose poem, which, by reflecting the poet’s experience the Kyiv pogroms, shatters the possibility of listening.




How to Cite

Murav, H. (2024). David Hofshteyn’s Poetry of Listening. Lyre – Studies in Poetry and Lyric, 1, 22. Retrieved from https://biupress.org/index.php/lyre/article/view/98