Phyllis Gotlieb Daisy Aldan - Essay

Daisy Aldan

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

To read Phyllis Gotlieb's new volume of poems, Ordinary, Moving,… [is to be enlivened] by a circus of sparkling sounds, songs, memories, and new thoughts, masterfully mingled. (p. 37)

I am afraid I cannot wholeheartedly endorse her Three Translations of Villon. In order to explain her use of present-day colloquialisms of the "enough nagging, you should drop dead" type which she uses in Proverbs, she intersperses the italicized comment:

             to bring him in focus for myself
             I moved him down 500 years and
             east 5000 miles.

In contrast, The Morning Prayers of the Hasid, Rabbi Levi Yitzhok, can be loved and enjoyed by any sensitive reader. The charm and skill displayed in the evocation of the Hasidic dance are admirable….

[Several poems] are made up of a collage of children's games, jump rope rhymes, etc., in several languages, beautifully arranged, juxtaposed, and interspersed with the poet's own additions. However, the transformation is defeated by the length, and one regrets that some of the pages involved were not filled with shorter and more original works.

In spite of this, Ordinary, Moving is extraordinary, and definitely moving. (p. 38)

Daisy Aldan, "The Words of the Tribe," in Poetry (© 1971 by The Modern Poetry Association; reprinted by permission of the Editor of Poetry), Vol. CXVIII, No. 1, April, 1971, pp. 35-40.∗