Poets and Zealots: The Rise of Political Hebrew Poetry in Eretz-Israel

Poets and Zealots cover photo
Author (Faculty Member): 

Uri Zvi Greenberg’s Vision of One of the Legions became a milestone in Hebrew poetry when it was published in 1928. This long poem is the culmination of a series of experiments moving towards the first appearance of the political poem in Eretz-Israel. Poets and Zealots unfolds the historiography of the growth and development of the political Eretz-Israeli poem and the historical and literary elements that factor into its rise. Since the beginning of the twentieth century and the formation of a literary center in Eretz -Israel, the most prominent form has been “labor poetry”, celebrating manual labor and nurturing the image of the pioneer (halutz) as a national idol. With increased political polarization in the Yishuv (the early settlements in Eretz-Israel) and the rise of the revisionist, right-wing sector due to the economic crisis of the fourth immigration wave, in the late twenties, militant political poetry took on the poetic conventions of “labor poetry” and undermined the ideological axioms of “labor culture.” This book examines the rise of political poetry as part of avant-garde Eretz-Israeli poetry through a study of the work of Liova Almi, Avigdor Hameiri, Avraham Shlonsky, and others. But at the center of this cultural process stands Uri Zvi Greenberg’s revolutionary poetics and his radical, messianic politics. This book sketches the complex reciprocal interactions between political poetry’s literary structure and the forms that poetry takes as a political act.

Bialik Institute, Heb.
Publication Date: 
January 1, 1994