Tuesday 3 October 2017


ELYE MEYTUS (ELIAHU MEITUS, MEITES) (September 15 [27], 1892-June 20, 1977)
            He was born in Kishinev, Bessarabia, into a well-pedigreed family.  He received a Jewish education and general secular knowledge in a “cheder metukan” (improved religious elementary school), as well as with itinerant teachers and tutors in his home.  He graduated from a high school in Odessa.  He studied philology and philosophy at the Universities of Petrograd, Paris (Sorbonne), and Odessa.  From his youth he was a member of the Tseire-Tsiyon (Zionist youth) party.  He founded a Tarbut high school in Soroki (Soroca), Bessarabia, and later worked as a teacher of Hebrew literature in the teachers’ seminary in Jassy (Iași), Romania.  In 1935 he made aliya to Israel, where he was a teacher in various schools in Tel Aviv.  He began writing Hebrew poetry at age ten.  His father gave his first poems to Ḥ. N. Bialik who prevailed upon the father to send his son to study in Odessa.  He selected the poem “Lelit” (Nocturne) which he published in Hashiloa (The shiloah) in 1910, and from that point on Meytus contributed poems, literary articles, and translations from Russian, French, Romanian, and Yiddish to: Hashiloa, Haolam (The world), Hatekufa (The epoch), Prozot (Prose writing), Hatoran (The duty officer), Hadoar (The mail), Haarets (The land), Davar (Word), Haboker (This morning), Kama, Moznaim (Scales), Atidot (Futures), Itim (Seasons), Al hamishmar (On guard), Ketuvim (Writings), Turim (Ranks), and Orlogin (Clock), as well as in special anthologies.  He also wrote under the pen names: Yoelson and Abu-Yael.  In Yiddish he authored poems, critical articles, and stories for the newspapers: Der besaraber lebn (Bessarabian life), Der id (The Jew), and Unzer tsayt (Our time)—in Kishinev; the anthology Kultur (Culture) in Czernowitz; Tsukunft (Future) in New York; and Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), Letste nayes (Latest news), and Heymish (Familiar), among others, in Tel Aviv.  Into Hebrew he translated Dovid Bergelson’s Arum vokzal (At the depot), Der toyber (The deaf man), and other stories; Perets Markish’s Dor oys dor ayn (Generation out, generation in); Yoyel Mastboym’s Dos royte lebn (The red life) and Afn leyter (On the ladder) as Al hasulam, pirke ḥayai hasoarim (On the ladder, chapters from a difficult life) (Tel Aviv, 1954/1955); Froym Oyerbakh’s Di vayse shtot (The white city); and Avrom Sutzkever’s poem “Kol nidre.”  The first portion of Meytus’s Holocaust poem “Kalmen-leyb vasertregers tfile” (Kalmen-Leyb Vasertreger’s prayer) was translated into Yiddish by Mortkhe Yofe, and it was included in Yofe’s Antologye fun der hebreishe poezye (Anthology of Hebrew poetry) (Vilna, 1935); the second part, which Meytus himself wrote in Yiddish, was published in Di goldene keyt.  He also published in Letste nayes his Holocaust ballad “Poroykhes-vebers” (Weavers of ark curtains).  In book form: Shiratenu haḥadasha (Our new poems) (Tel Aviv: Devir, 1938), 480 pp.; Shirim (Poems) (Tel Aviv, 1943), 289 pp.; Baladot minof hayaldut, shirim (Ballads of regret, poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1954), 158 pp.; Poemot (Poems) (Tel Aviv, 1959), 91 pp.  He died in Tel Aviv.

Sources: D. Tidhar, in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 3 (Tel Aviv, 1949); D. A. Fridman, in Hatekufa (Moscow) 1 (1918); A. Ben-Or, Toldot hasifrut haivrit (History of Hebrew literature), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv, 1951); Ḥ. Toran and M. Robinzon, Sifrutenu hayafe (Our beautiful literature), vol. 1 (Jerusalem, 1952); Y. Mastboym, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (February 19, 1954); Mortkhe Yofe, in Haboker (Tel Aviv) (June 27, 1958; Yofe, in Yisroel tog-oys tog-ayn (Israel day-in day-out) (Tel Aviv, 1958); Y. Likhtnboym, in Tekuma (Revival), anthology (Tel Aviv, 1958), p. 79; Yofe, Shiratenu mibialik ad yamenu (Our poetry from Bialik to our own time) (Tel Aviv, 1962), see index; N. Bistritski, in Al hamishmar (Tel Aviv) (June 22, 1962).
Mortkhe Yofe

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