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Moskowitz, M. (1976). Bialik's Scroll of Fire: The Poet as Sacrificer. Am. Imago, 33(2):216-229.

(1976). American Imago, 33(2):216-229

Bialik's Scroll of Fire: The Poet as Sacrificer

Moshe Moskowitz

This paper aims to show how the poet contributes to our understanding of sublimation by pictorially concretizing certain abstract concepts. In Bialik's “Scroll of Fire”, such terms as “transformation of sexual energy” and “sublimation of oedipal aggression” become translated into poetic images of symbolic self-castration and restorative homage to the father-figure through the gift of the poet's own phallus.

Haim Nahman Bialik (1873-1934) is regarded by many critics as the greatest poet of the modern Hebrew renaissance. Bialik's exalted position among Hebrew poets has prompted one critic to state that “between 1900 and 1905 Haim Nahman Bialik had produced a sustained series of brilliant poems, both short lyric pieces and longer narrative verse, which in its concentrated achievement of genius recalls the creative outpouring of Keats in the months when he wrote all his odes.” Bialik is considered the greatest Hebrew poet since Judah Halevi in the twelfth century.

The prose poem “Scroll of Fire,” one of Bialik's major works, is an unusual blend of legend and autobiography. It is faulted by some critics mainly because of its introduction of a personal confession, attributed to the protagonist but blatantly the poet's own, in the sixth section of the poem.

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