Harvest of Blossoms: Poems from a Life Cut Short (Jewish Lives) by Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger

Irene Silverblatt and Helene Silverblatt (editors)

This collection of rediscovered poetry from a lost voice of the Holocaust reveals an artist of remarkable talent and enduring hope. The poems written by Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger are astonishing for their beauty; it is equally astonishing that they have survived at all. Her childhood friends spoke of Selma's liveliness and irreverence, her sparkling and mischievous personality, her charming, careless appearance, and her independence. She was passionate about ideas, literature, music, and art.

As the storm of hatred gripping Europe broke in earnest, Selma expressed her desires and fears in poetry. Between the ages of fifteen and seventeen, Selma wrote fifty-two poems and five translations – two from French, two from Yiddish, one from Romanian – that are published here. In July 1942, Selma and her family were sent to Michailowka, a labor camp in Ukraine, where they worked as slaves in unspeakable conditions. Remarkably, some records of Selma's experience have survived; because of them, we know that even in the camp Selma held the beauty of language in her heart along with an aching desire to return to her home. Selma's last piece of writing, a letter to her dear friend, Renee Abramvici-Michaeli, is a record of Selma's abiding courage and her bleak hope that a better world would follow. Her death, at age 18, from typhus on December 16, 1942 was reported in the diary of an artist who was with Selma in the labor camp.

Now, in this first English translation, Selma's life and her magnificent album can reach out to a new audience that seeks a fuller picture of what was lost. A rich introduction explains the historical context and the story of Selma's life. That these poems exist is stunning enough; that they are as touching and universal as they are is a revelation.

Harvest of Blossoms: Poems from a Life Cut Short (Jewish Lives) by Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger