Preil, Gabriel Joshua

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PREIL, GABRIEL JOSHUA (1911–1993), U.S. Hebrew poet. Born in Dorpat, Estonia, Preil was taken to the United States in 1922. Though he published essays from time to time, wrote in Yiddish and English, and translated from Hebrew into English and from English into Hebrew, he was mainly a modernist Hebrew poet who introduced new themes and cadences into Hebrew literature in America. His lyrical pieces, which form the bulk of his collected poems, usually move in subtle, unrhymed rhythms on the boundary of prose and poetry. He is a poet of things and facts: a map, a mailbox, Lincoln Center in New York City, a Chinese sketch, a picture of Vincent van Gogh serve as foci for poetical aperçus and reflective moods. Though influenced by Whitman, Frost, and Sandburg, whose "Prairie" he translated into Hebrew, he was mainly an introspective lyricist. The New Hampshire and Vermont landscapes fascinated him: The cool sobriety of the north corresponded to his temperament which never ventured into flights of pathos.

Preil's poetry appeared in the following volumes: Nof Shemesh u-Kefor (1944); Ner Mul Kokhavim (1954); Mappat Erev (1961); and Ha-Esh ve-ha-Demamah (1968). A volume of his Yiddish poems, Lider, including his translations of his Hebrew poems, appeared in 1966. Other books of his poems are Mi-tokh Zeman ve-Nof (1973), Shirim mi-Shenei ha-Keẓavot (1976) and Yalkut Shirim (1978), Adiv le-Aẓmi (1981), Ḥamishim Shir ba-Midbar (1987). Dan Miron collected the later poems and wrote an essay on Preil's poetry in Asfan Setavim (1993). Preil also published a monograph in English on Israeli Poetry in Peace and War, in 1959.


A. Epstein, Soferim Ivrim ba-Amerikah, 1 (1952), 229–36; A. Shabtay, Gavri'el Preil (Heb., 1965); A. Marthon, in: Bitzaron, 43 (1961), 49–53; 54 (1966), 163–7. add. bibliography: Y. Rabinovitz, "Darko shel G. Preil ba-Shirah," in: Hadoar, 48 (1969), 354–355, 358; D. Rudavsky, "G. Preil: A Hebrew Poet in America," in: Judaism, 25 (1976), 188–200; A. Komem, in: Yedioth Aharonoth (January 21, 1977); Y. Akaviahu, "Ha-Shir be-Aspaklariyyat ha-Shir," in: Moznayim, 47:2 (1978), 129–31; M. Peri, "Ha-Onah ha-Me'uzenet: Al Mivneh ha-Omek shel Shirei Preil," in: Siman Keriah, 9 (1979), 369–88; 453–462; E. Sharoni, "Weary Single of Exile: G. Preil's 'Courteous to Myself'," in: Modern Hebrew Literature, 7:1–2 (1981/82), 50–55; Y. Feldman, Modernism and Cultural Transfer: Gabriel Preil and the Tradition of Jewish Literary Bilingualism (1985); D. Pinto, Ha-Hekerut im Shirim Kodmim ke-Misgeret Yeda Relevantit: Le-Miẓui Mashma'ut ha-Shir ha-Boded be-Shirat Gabriel Preil (1997); A. Holtzman, "Ha-Meẓayyer be-Millim: G. Preil ve-ha-Omanut ha-Plastit," in: Migvan (1989), 127–140; E. Spicehandler, "Gabriel Preil," in: ccar Journal, 50:3 (2003), 76–84.

[Eisig Silberschlag]