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Gordon, Mikhl

GORDON, MIKHL

GORDON, MIKHL (1823–1890), Hebrew and Yiddish poet and essayist. Born in Vilna, he early came under the influence of the Haskalah circle of A.D. *Lebensohn. He began his literary career in 1847 with a Hebrew elegy on the death of Mordecai Aaron *Guenzburg, a member of this circle, and continued with Hebrew articles in various periodicals and the publication of two books in Hebrew. He rose to fame with his Yiddish songs which circulated in manuscript in the 1850s and 1860s and for which he also composed melodies. He published some of these Yiddish songs in Di Bord… un andere… Yidishe Lider ("The Beard … and other … Yiddish Songs," 1868), issued anonymously so as not to endanger his reputation as a Hebrew poet. His song "Shtey oyf Mayn Folk" ("Arise My People") was composed in 1869 and has generally been regarded as the classical poetic expression in Yiddish of the spirit of Jewish enlightenment in Russia. That year he also published a history of Russia in Yiddish. His late, pessimistic mood, intensified by his poverty and loneliness, is reflected in his final poems, published in 1889. His wife was the sister of the Hebrew and Yiddish poet J.L. *Gordon.

bibliography:

Rejzen, Leksikon, 1 (1926), 510–8; lnyl, 2 (1958), 129–34; I. Manger, Noente Geshtalten (1938), 150–63; Y. Charlash, in: S. Niger Bukh (1958), 56–71; S. Liptzin, Flowering of Yiddish Literature (1963), 63–6. add. bibliography: L. Wiener, The History of Yiddish Literature in the Nineteenth Century (1899), 82–85 (also 1972 with intro. by E. Schulman).

[Sol Liptzin]

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