The Race The Race by Karen Gershon is, of a poetry ified within segment of literature considered as Jewish. This is typified by the theme of Jewish experience of persecution especially during the Holocaust. In ordinary circumstances, calling a poem “Jewish” or classifying it in that context maybe absurd. But the “Jewish poems” have the same situational predicament and this is reflected in Gershons poems. The Race talks about concepts of hate, death, identity and race intertwined into one tragic narrative. This theme is easily understood because they are supported by the elements of poetry employed.
Figures of speech were used to emphasize the Jewish predicament. For instance, there was the unknown body in the mass-graves as the poets and seen on every German face. The metaphors included effectively captured and conveyed deep insights and expressions of associations, emotions and circumstances. The poem is quite short: only two stanzas. But the metaphors used spoke volumes and narrated hundreds of pages of Jewish history.
Then, of course, there was the rhythm. The cadence intimated a particular pensiveness, sadness, solitude, even guilt and finally punctuated by a grim determination. What this means is that the way lines were arranged to be spoken depicted the emotion that infects the reader. One will be reminded of an uninterrupted train of thought that contained discourses of pain, reflection and resolution. The rhythm made it easy to associate The Race with the concept of music or imagery. For the former, the race would be a song associated with odes and eulogies. And as an image, it would be that of solitude captured in black and white.
Rhyming sounds and diction also depict a clear character that is identical to the concept of bareness. Words, forms and sounds were written without any embellishments. No punctuations to emphasize points and themes, no compression and so forth. This is not unlike many poems written about the Holocaust or related themes in the wider Jewish discourse. It is effective because the understated wordings and sounds underscore the chaos, the pain, the hysteria and the tragedy. In this particular poem, rhyming and diction reinforces a kind of imagery that is not literary. It is appropriately realistic, which also highlights the poems poetic sequence, which is – again – typical of Jewish poetry. The first is a personal lament of the poet. In The Race, this is the first stanza. Here, Gershon talked about her circumstance as she was overwhelmed by her ancestry and her historical reality. The next element in the sequence (realized in the second stanza) contained the reflection or vision or other versions of this concept. Gershon pondered about her life and what she can do in response to her laments.
So the poetic elements enable the reader to say that this is a Jewish poem. This is not because of the wordings that scream a Jewish writer and Jewish experience but the identity and character typical of this genre. It is ancestral but also exilic including the memories of joys, the tragedy and themes of vision caught in between them.