Tuesday 21 February 2017


RUVN LUDVIG (REUBEN LUDWIG) (March 17, 1895-August 26, 1926)
            He was born in Lipovets (Lipovits), Kiev district, Ukraine.  He studied in religious elementary school.  In 1907 he moved with his parents to Kiev and studied there for a time in a Russian public school.  With his mother and two sisters, he made his way to join his father in the United States, where he entered an elementary school in New York, but due to a lung ailment he had to stop his education and for several months resided in a sanitarium for those with lung disease.  At this time, he read a great deal and began to write poetry.  He debuted in print with a poem in English in the socialist daily newspaper, The New York Call (November 1, 1914).  He debuted in Yiddish with a poem entitled “In minutn fun ru” (In minutes of calm) in Dos yudishe folk (The Jewish people) in New York, which he signed “R. Viglud”—this first Yiddish poem may have been “Zuntik-ru” (Sunday calm) in Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York (August 1915).  Over the years 1915-1917, he published poems (mostly on the motif of death) in: Fraye arbeter-shtime, Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter), Di naye tsayt (The new times) which was a weekly put out by the Jewish Socialist Federation, Tsukunft (Future), Onhoyb (Beginning), Tog (Day), Varhayt (Truth), and Dos vort (The word), among others, in New York.  In August 1918 he settled with his family in Phoenix, Arizona; in 1920 he lived in Los Angeles, before returning to New York.  Ludvig traveled around (1918-1925) from one climate to another, looking for a cure for his sick body, and all the while his literary success continued to grow: in 1919 he published a series of poems in Zishe Landau’s Antologye, di yidishe dikhtung in amerike biz yor 1919 (Anthology, Yiddish poetry in America until 1919) (New York: Idish).  That very year he joined the group of introspectivist poets known as “In zikh” (Introspective) and from that point published in the journal In zikh; a series of his poems also appeared in In zikh antologye (Introspective anthology) (New York, 1920).  In 1923 he became extremely ill in New York, and in the spring of 1925 he left to join his parents in California.  In the final years of his life, he exerted himself to be active literarily, and aside from poetry, he wrote short stories and published them in Der tog (The day) in New York (July, September 1926); he started to write prose as well with two essays that appeared in In zikh in 1920.  He died of pneumonia at barely thirty years of age in the town of Banning, California.  After his death, his widow and the poet A. Leyeles (with assistance from the Y. L. Perets Writers’ Union in New York) brought out a volume by Ludvig, Gezamlte lider (Collected poems) (New York, 1927), 292 pp., with a biographical note.  This book also includes a series of “discovered verses” which he composed during his early period (1912-1915) and which were not published during his lifetime.  Marie Syrkin translated into English several poems from his series “Indian Summer,” and in virtually all of the anthologies of American Yiddish poetry, Ludvig’s poetic creations are widely represented.  As N. B. Minkov has noted: “Ludvig was purely lyrical poet, and his poems were quietly tragic.  He was perhaps the most American among the Yiddish poets in America.  Not solely because the themes he addressed were American, but the rhythm, the tone, the deportment, and the landscape—Jewishness and Americanism; these developed in him organically.”

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; A. Leyeles, in Tog (New York) (November 23, 1924; September 11, 1926); Leyeles, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 128; Leyeles, in In zikh (New York) (1928); Leyeles, in In zikh 54 (April 1940); Y. G-n (Yankev Glatshteyn, in In zikh (New York) 6 (1928); A. Kurtz, in Der hamer (New York) (1928); Z. Vaynper, Yidishe shriftshteler (Yiddish writers), vol. 1 (New York, 1933), pp. 136-39; B. Alkvit, in In zikh 26 (1936); M. Basin, Amerikaner yidishe poezye (American Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1940); N. B. Minkov, in Kultur un dertsiung (New York) (December 1951); M. Yofe, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (January 29, 1954); B. Y. Byalostotski, Kholem un var (Dream and reality) (New York, 1956), pp. 112-13; The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 7 (New York).
Zaynvl Diamant


  1. There's a photo of him together with Mani Leib in Ruth Wisse's book 'A Little Love in Big Manhattan' facing p104. The original is in YIVO.