Bialik's poem "In the City of Slaughter" and Brenner's short story "He Told Her" deal with the same topic: the reaction of Jews to murderous assaults and humiliation. Both of them deplore Jewish passivity and the meek acceptance of fate. But here the resemblance ends: Bialik directs his rage toward his people, while Brenner extols the young Jew, a precursor of the "New Jew," who defies his mother and Jewish traditional stance and joins a self-defense organization.

This essay explores the dialogue between some of Bialik's earlier poetry and his later "Songs of Wrath." The essay also points out the relationship between Brenner's and Bialik's poems and the generational differences between them regarding God, revenge, and self-defense.

Both works were included in the compulsory reading lists of youth movements in Palestine and Israel. The negative way in which they were understood by the young to reflect upon Diaspora Jews is evidence of the difficulty in reading works out of their historical context.


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pp. 86-102
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