Karni (Volovelski), Yehuda

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KARNI (Volovelski), YEHUDA

KARNI (Volovelski ), YEHUDA (1884–1949), Hebrew poet. Born in Pinsk, his first Hebrew poem was printed in Ha-Ẓefirah when he was 12. In 1921 he settled in Palestine and from 1923 until his death was on the editorial board of the daily Haaretz.

Karni's early poetry, influenced by *Bialik and *Tchernichowsky, was individualistic, romantic, and abstract. His settling in Palestine brought about a radical change in his creative spirit. He was one of the first Hebrew poets who abandoned the Ashkenazi accentuation and shifted to the new Sephardi accent thus bringing his diction closer to rhythms of spoken Hebrew. His poetry became more concrete, reflecting the new landscape and his personal struggle for identity against the backdrop of the complex political, cultural, and economic issues which agitated the small Jewish community of mandatory Palestine. Particularly distinctive is his volume Shirei Yerushalayim (1948). Jerusalem in this volume looms as the eternal symbol of the people and its destiny. Although he encounters a city in apparently hopeless stagnation and decay, he senses the deeper, historical levels of consciousness of eternal Jerusalem. At the same time, he captures the concrete beauty of the Jerusalem landscape. In his last years Karni lamented the victims of the Holocaust. The poet's characteristics as moralist, lamenter, and artist were also evident in the articles and essays that appeared almost daily in Haaretz for 25 years. His other poetic works include She'arim (1923), Bi-She'arayikh Moledet (1935), Shir ve-Dema (1948), Bimah Ketannah, selected poetry and prose (1951), Yalkut Shirim shel Yehuda Karni, with introduction by Y. Ogen (1966). A collection of his poems (Shirim) with an introduction by Dan Miron appeared in 1992. A list of his works translated into English appears in Goell, Bibliography, 31, 100.


S. Halkin, Arai va-Keva (1942), 113–23, 190; B.I. Michali, Leyad ha-Ovnayim (1959), 55–72; J. Keshet, Maskiyyot (1953), 183–204; R. Wallenrod, The Literature of Modern Israel (1956), index. add. bibliography: S. Abramsky, "'Me-al Har ha-Ẓofim' be-Mikhlol Shirat Yehuda Karni," in: Alon la-Moreh le-Sifrut, 14 (1993), 110–17; N. Bacharach, "Diyyun bi-Shenei Shirim al Yerushalayim (Amichai ve-Karni)," in: Alon la-Moreh le-Sifrut, 17 (1998), 58–67.

[Yitzhak Ogen]