Esselin, Alter

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ESSELIN, ALTER (Artur Eselin ; pseudonym of Ore Serebrenik ; 1889–1974), Yiddish poet. Born in Chernigov, Ukraine, Esselin immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 16, worked as a carpenter in various cities, and settled in 1925 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His first poems appeared in 1919 in local Yiddish newspapers (Der Veg, Detroit; Kundes, New York). In a few years, he received significant literary recognition. His poetry volumes, Knoytn ("Candlewicks," 1927), Unter der Last ("Under the Yoke," 1936), and Lider fun a Midbernik ("Poems of a Hermit," 1954), are marked by their sadness. He often laments his lonely vigil far from Yiddish centers and voices his pride that he earns his living with saw and hammer. Death is a frequent theme, and in a poetic epitaph he describes himself as a poet who poisoned himself with songs in which honey and arsenic were mixed. A selection of his poems, translated into English, with an introduction by his son, Joseph Esselin, appeared in 1968.


Y. Bronshteyn, Fun Eygn Hoyz (1963), 267–74. add. bibliography: lnyl, 7 (1968), 9–10.

[Sol Liptzin /

Eliezer Niborski (2nd ed.)]