Austrian-born Erich Fried
's poems are very accessible to all readers and this volume, his first appearance in English, was translated by his close friend Stuart Hood - one time controller of the BBC.
Always aware that he was living in an alien culture, these poems reflect the sensitivities of a Jew who could not accept an Israel that persecuted others, who was grateful to the country that had given him shelter and protection from the Nazis but also found a great deal that made him unsettled in England.
Although Fried moved between two cultural worlds, he never lost touch with his native tongue and its literature. His work is an example of that 'organic assimilation' of experience which Leon Trotsky maintained distinguished literary activity from political agitation.
His poems about the Holocaust are both moving and questioning, because he understood very well the climate of fear that made those who wanted to survive do nothing to fight the horrors that they could see arriving. His poems on Vietnam and Chile illustrate the way in which he combines depth of feeling with a strong grasp of political realties.
Fried's poetry is remarkable because it expresses a spectrum of feeling in which there is no dividing line between the political and the personal. His poetry is a passionate cry for justice, tolerance and a better world. Fried belongs to all nations and to none in the international context of poems that are anti-nationalistic and always for pity, mercy, understanding and love. They are both extremely readable and utterly memorable.
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