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Rolnick, Joseph


ROLNICK, JOSEPH (1879–1955), Yiddish poet. Born near Mir (Belorussia) into a miller's family, Rolnick was indelibly marked by the landscape of his youth. He emigrated to New York in 1899, debuted as a Yiddish poet in Forverts in 1900, and returned to Europe in 1901, re-emigrating to New York in 1907. Rolnick was one of the first American Yiddish poets to break with the dominant tradition of didactic social poetry, paving the way for impressionism and symbolism. The insurgent literary group Di *Yunge hailed him as a precursor of its ideals and poetic theory and welcomed him into the group. Rolnick avoided complex moods or complicated situations. In simple quatrains he conveyed a single mood or thought with maximum clarity and fidelity. As a mature lyric poet, his resignation was no longer the expression of despair but of a purer and deeper recognition and understanding. The creator of tranquil lyrics whose symbols emerge from village landscape and life, Rolnick has been compared to Robert Frost.


Feygl Rolnick (ed.), Yoysef Rolnik: Der Dikhter un Zayn Lid (1961); S. Liptzin, Flowering of Yiddish Literature (1963), 202–5; J. Glatstein, In Tokh Genumen (1956), 136–44; S. Bickel, Shrayber fun Mayn Dor (1955), 29–34; A. Tabachnik, Dikhter un Dikhtung (1965), 101–32. add. bibliography: lnyl, 8 (1981), 376–8; Joseph Rolnick, Zikhroynes (1954).

[Sol Liptzin /

Eugene V. Orenstein (2nd ed.)]

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