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Nissenson, Aaron

NISSENSON, AARON

NISSENSON, AARON (1898–1964), Yiddish poet, journalist, and essayist. Born in Chepeli, Belorussia, he immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 13. He graduated as a pharmacist but preferred a literary and journalistic career. In 1918 he co-edited the literary monthly Der Onheyb. He was business manager of the New York daily, Morgn Zhurnal, for 30 years, while he published his works in the major Yiddish publications of the day, including Tsukunft, Der Yidisher Kemfer, and Fraye Arbeter Shtime. In his later years he was press representative of the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. His first volume of poems, Hundert Lider ("Hundred Songs," 1920) was followed by six other books of lyric and dramatic poems. The central hero of his dramatic poem Der Veg tsum Mentsh ("The Road to Man," 1934) was the American socialist leader Eugene V. Debs, for him a symbol of a pure-hearted man. In the dramatic poem Dos Tsugezogte Land ("The Promised Land," 1937), Nissenson portrayed the struggle between good and evil as embodied in opposing personalities, beginning with Moses and Pharaoh and continuing throughout history. He expressed faith in science as the ultimate redeemer, leading man ever closer to moral perfection. This faith remained with him during World War ii, when he composed the poems of Dos Lebn Zingt Afile in Toyt ("Life Sings Even in Death," 1943). In his last poems, In Tsadiks Trit ("In the Footsteps of the Righteous," 1950), he continued to sing of compassionate, just human beings who would evolve from imperfect contemporary man. Shortly before his death, Nissenson published an English novel, Song of Man (1964), whose central character was again Eugene V. Debs.

bibliography:

Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1927), 571ff.; lnyl, 6 (1965), 242–5; Y. Bronshteyn, Ineynem un Bazunder (1960), 54–7.

[Sol Liptzin]

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