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A curious book with a curious name; from one of conservative Judaism's deepest thinkers comes a book of early poems (pre-World War II) in both Hebrew and English. Combining Judaistic thought with Hasidic elements (retaining some if its pantheistic themes) along with a true poetic talent, the poems speak of a deep longing, or rather many deep longings - some for the divine, some for humanity, some for the world. Many cryptic phrases and interesting turns of phrase are employed ("I live in Me and in you.","You are an incognito soul/my darling, oh tree!","God is fettered in jail...") to breath mystery into these writings, making for an intriguing collection.
These 66 poems, here in English and Yiddish on facing pages, were collected in the first book Abraham Joshua Heschel ever published. They appeared in Warsaw in 1933 when Heschel was 26 years old and still a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of Berlin. Written between 1927 and 1933—and never published in English before—this is the intimate spiritual diary of a devout European Jew, loyal to the revelation at Sinai and afflicted with reverence for all human beings. These poems sound themes that will resonate throughout Heschel's later popular writings: human holiness, a passion for truth, awe and wonder before nature, God's quest for righteousness, solidarity with the downtrodden, and unwavering commitment to tikkun olam. In these poems we also discover a young man's acute loneliness, dismay at God's distance, and dreams of spiritual and sensual intimacy with a woman.