The years spent in Berlin by Hebrew poet Lea Goldberg (1911–1970) on the eve of the Nazis’ rise to power were a formative period in her creative and personal life. Nevertheless, she rarely mentions Berlin explicitly in her poetry. In this article, I argue that ekphrasis (in this case, poems on paintings) served Goldberg as she worked through her Berlin experience, as an act of transmutation, translation, interpretation, and identity-building. Poems written during her stay in Germany recently discovered in the poet’s archive shed new light on the role ekphrasis played in her poetry, on her affinity with woodcut artist Frans Masereel, and on her approach to primitivist and modernist visual arts. Ekphrasis is revealed here as a mechanism of encryption in poetry that turned Berlin in the Götterdämmerung of the Weimar Republic into the Berlin of European and Jewish enlightenment, modernism into classicism, and the male gaze into female expression.


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