The Book of Yolek by Anthony Hetcht Essay

The Book of Yolek by Anthony Hetcht Essay

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The Holocaust was a tragic event in history which instilled fear and sorrow in so many. This time can be seen as one without order, because the law at the time said the actions taken were just (epigraph translation). A poet was able, however, to take such a chaotic time in history in the poem The Book of Yolek, and create a more personal attachment (for the reader) to the topic. The poet Anthony Hecht has taken the Holocaust (more specifically the moving of Jewish orphans to a concentration camp) and made it simple and nostalgic, taking a more calm approach to the subject ("5th August 1942: Warsaw Orphans Leave for Treblinka"). By using the form of a Sestina (very precise form difficult to properly do), along with the images, rhetorical use of grammar, and the tone portrayed throughout the piece, Anthony Hecht demonstrates a peaceful outlook can be given to the most chaotic moments in human life (Strand et al. 20). However, he also demonstrates the need for emotional attachment when referring to an occurrence (in history) of the past.
The very first two stanzas employ the use of imagery. Both help develop the scene of the reader eating a meal before sunset, thinking of a childhood memory. The way in which this is written makes it seem as if “you” (the reader) are in a dreamy state of mind. This dreamy state of mind turns into what can be described as nostalgia (ironic due to the poem’s topic). These memories of a hearty “meal” at a “declining day” allow the reader to grow comfortable with the piece. It can fool the audience to think this to be a safe and happy poem, but just as the Sestina (in form) is a game, it seems the writer is playing it with us.
The third stanza employs the use of syntax heavily, where in the first two...


... middle of paper ...


...ice of words and focus on the idea of fire add to the story portrayed through the sestina, which allows for us (as the readers) to not forget how horrendous this time in history was. This poem in the end does demonstrate the need for emotional attachment when referring to the past in history, making it a theme to the piece.




Works Cited
Balch, Jeff. "Receiving Yolek: A New Look at Anthony Hecht's Holocaust Sestina.” Jewish
Currents. Jewish Current: Activist, Politics and Art, Sept. 2007. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. .
"5th August 1942: Warsaw Orphans Leave for Treblinka." World War II Today RSS. n.p. n.d. Web.
14 Apr. 2014. .
Strand, Mark and Evan Boland. The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. New
York: www. Norton, 2000. Print.

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