BOVSHOVER, JOSEPH (1873–1915), Yiddish poet. Bovshover was born in Lubavitch, Belorussia, and immigrated to the United States from Riga in 1891. Influenced by the radical Yiddish poets, Morris *Vinchevsky, David *Edelstadt, and Morris *Rosenfeld, as well as by Heinrich Heine, Walt Whitman, and the Bible, he wrote revolutionary, anarchist poetry. Under the name of Basil Dahl, he also wrote poems in English (e.g., in Benjamin R. Tucker's Liberty (1896–97). He received exaggerated critical praise, yet became increasingly melancholic and spent the last 15 years of his life institutionalized. He published essays on Heine, Emerson, Whitman, and Edwin Markham, and translated Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice into Yiddish. His collected verse and essays were published in the one-volume Gezamelte shriftn (1911, 19162). Many of his poems (e.g. "Revolution") were set to music. Dror Abend-David shows that Bovshover's Shakespeare translation is far less daytshmerish (Germanized) than his (often bathetic) verse, most probably under the influence of the Yiddish lexicographer and language reformer Alexander *Harkavy.
lnyl, 1 (1956), 207–10; K. Marmor, Yoysef Bovshover (1952); N.B. Minkoff, Pionern fun Yidisher Poezye in Amerike, 1 (1956), 131–91. add. bibliography: B. Dahl, To the Toilers (1928); D. Abend-David, "Scorned My Nation" (2003).
[Elias Schulman /
Leonard Prager (2nd ed.)]