H. ROYZENBLAT (ROSENBLATT) (May 15, 1878-May 30, 1956)
He was a poet, born Khayim Royzenblit in the village of Rishoshe, Podolia. Until age eight he studied with a village teacher, later in the neighboring town of Ladizhen (Ładzyń). In 1892 he made his way with his parents to the United States. For two years he worked in a sweatshop, later studying in a school for public school teachers. He moved to Detroit in 1916 and in 1921 settled in Los Angeles. There he became engaged in business and was active in Jewish literary and community life. He was a member of the Labor Zionists. He debuted in print on January 2, 1900 with two poems in Forverts (Forward). He was part of a group of young poets, “Di yidishe yugend” (Jewish youth), and published in their anthology Yugend (Youth). At various times he contributed poetry to: Abend-blatt (Evening newspaper), Varhayt (Truth), Forverts, Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Tog (Day), Dos idishe folk (The Jewish people), Fraye gezelshaft (Free society), Tsukunft (Future), Dos naye land (The new country), Di tsayt (The times), Inzel (Island), Literatur (Literature), Di literarishe velt (The literary world), Studyo (Studio), Opatoshu and Leivick’s Zamlbikher (Anthologies), Kinder zhurnal (Children’s magazine), a series of Indian legends in Kalifornyer idishe shtime (Jewish voice of California), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw, Di yudishe velt (The Jewish world) and Grininke beymelekh (Little green trees) in Vilna, Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) in Tel Aviv, and Kiem (Existence) in Paris, among others. He edited Detroyter vokhenblat (Detroit weekly newspaper) in 1917, and he co-edited Pasifik (Pacific) in Los Angeles (1929, 4 issues) and the monthly Unzer vort (Our word) in Los Angeles (1939). His work appeared as well in: Blumen un funken (Flowers and sparks) (Vilna: Di velt, 1906); Yankev Fikhman. Di yudishe muze (The Yiddish muse) (Warsaw: Velt biblyotek, 1911); Humor un satire (Humor and satire) (New York, 1912); Morris Basin, Yidishe poezye af amerikaner motivn, zamlung (Yiddish poetry on American motifs, collection) (New York, 1955); Avraham Tsvi Halevy, Mehashira haidit baamerika (From the Yiddish poetry in America) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1967); Moshe Basok, Mivḥar shirat yidish (Selection of Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1963); Shmuel Rozhanski, Di froy in der yidisher poezye (Women in Yiddish poetry) (Buenos Aires, 1966); Shimshon Meltser, Al naharot, tisha maḥazore shira misifrut yidish (By the rivers, nine cycles of poetry from Yiddish literature) (Jerusalem, 1956); Joseph Milbauer, Poètes yiddish d’aujourhui (Contemporary Yiddish poets) (Paris, 1936); Joseph Leftwich, The Golden Peacock (London, 1961); S. J. Imber, Modern Yiddish Poetry: An Anthology (New York, 1927). He also wrote children’s poetry and articles on literary and social themes.
His work includes: Lieder (Poetry) (New York: Idishe biblyotek, 1910), 112 pp.; Gezamelte gedikhte un lieder, 1905-1915 (Collected songs and poems, 1905-1915) (New York: Maks N. Mayzel, 1915), 319 pp., second printing (1921); Unter gots himlen, tsveyte zamlung lieder, 1915-1920 (Under God’s heaven, second collection of poetry, 1915-1920) (Detroit: Sholem-aleykhem brentsh, 1920), 227 pp., second printing (New York: M. Mayzel, 1921); Elye hanovis kos, kindershpil in eyn akt (Elijah the prophet’s cup, a children’s play in one act) (Vilna: Naye yidishe folkshul, 1928), 18 pp.; Hrudes (Lumps) (Los Angeles: Idishe kultur-gezelshaft, 1930), 151 pp.; Leym, forzetsung fun hrudes (Clay, sequel to Hrudes) (Los Angeles: Idishe kultur-gezelshaft, 1935), 134 pp.; Mayn likhtike nesie (My brilliant trip) (Chicago: L. M. Shteyn, 1939), 170 pp.; Bebzik, dos lebn fun a idishn ingl (Bebzik, the life of a Jewish boy) (New York: Central Committee of Jewish public schools, 1940), 158 pp.; Odems kinder (Adam’s children) (Chicago: L. M. Shteyn, 1944), 126 pp.; In shotn fun mayn boym (In the shadow of my tree) (Los Angeles, 1948), 174 pp.; In shentstn tog fun harbst (The most beautiful day of autumn) (Los Angeles: Yoyvl-komitet, 1953), 208 pp.; Far-nakht (Twilight) (Los Angeles: Bukh-komitet, 1957), 216 pp., with biobibliography. He also translated: Edgar Allan Poe, “Der rov” (The Raven), Tsukunft (New York) (1904); Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol as A gezang fun tfise (A song from jail) (London, 1908), 30 pp. Many of Royzenblat’s poems were put to music (by Mikhl Gelbart, Sholem Secunda, and others), and they became popular songs in Europe and America: “Dan un donye” (Dan and Donye), “Zol zayn shabes” (It should be the Sabbath), and “Vander ikh aleyn” (I’m wandering alone), among others. Three jubilee volumes (Los Angeles, 1935, 1939, 1948) were published in his honor. His pen names include: Abe Kanter and A. Rishosher. He died in Los Angeles.
“In his lyrical poetry,” wrote Zalmen Reyzen, “Royzenblat mirrors the various stages in Yiddish-American poetry, beginning with [Avrom] Reyzen and [Morris] Rozenfeld motifs up until the younger modernist influence.” “From the last two decades of poems by H. Royzenblat,” noted Shmuel Niger, “I have the impression of poetic creation whose dominant mood is hidden sadness, on the one hand, and a broad smile on the other. This is a dispositional stance for which epical lyricism or lyrical epical character is the most appropriate form for him. The lyrical disquiet is moderated by the storyteller’s sedateness, pacified by his objectivity.” “With his last volumes of poetry,” commented Yankev Glatshteyn, “he so lit things up that they were received with ease and without resistance…. He mainly studied so as to control his own poetic voice…. His poetic singing-and-speaking became balanced and intelligent. His poetry no longer sank to the level of made-up potash…. But he reached a simplicity that in a rare way gave expression to accumulated folk wisdom of the old poet. This…elevated him beyond the limit that critics had marked for him.” “His poetry is a blend of the Ukrainian village and the great United States,” wrote A. Mukdoni. “Both have an equal share in his poem. There is the great simplicity of the village in his poems and the great scope of America.” “Royzenblat is, it appears, from the late fruit,” noted Froym Oyerbakh, “which ripens in autumn…. In his sixties he blossomed…. There grew out of him an immense body of work which included all the poetic sounds of our literature, and they ring out with naïve, melodious sincerity.”
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; M. Olgin, in Tsukunft (New York) 1 (1915); Dovid Pinski, in H. Royzenblat yoyvl-bukh (Jubilee volume for H. Royzenbat) (Los Angeles, 1935); Borekh Rivkin, Yidishe dikhter in amerike (Yiddish poets in America) (New York, 1947), pp. 119-36; Yoyel Entin, in H. Royzenblat yoyvl-bukh, tsu zayn zibetsikstn geboyrntog (Jubilee volume for H. Royzenblat, on his sixtieth birthday) (Los Angeles, 1948); Y. Y. Sigal, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (May 7, 1948); Yankev Pat, Shmuesn mit yidishe shrayber (Conversations with Yiddish writers) (New York, 1954), pp. 243-60; Nokhum-Borekh Minkov, Literarishe vegn, eseyen (Literary paths, essays) (Mexico City, 1955); Froym Oyerbakh, in Tog (New York) (June 2, 1956); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (August 6, 1956); A. Mukdoni, in Tsukunft 10 (1957); Shimen-Dovid Zinger, Dikhter un prozaiker, eseyen vegn shrayber un bikher (Poets and prose writers, essays on writers and books) (New York: Educational Dept. of Workmen’s Circle, 1959); Y. Ḥ. Biltski, Masot (Essays), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv, 1960), pp. 293-97; B. Grin, Yidishe shrayber in amerike (Yiddish writers in America) (New York, 1963), pp. 101-4; Yekhiel Hofer, Mit yenem un mit zikh, literarishe eseyen (With another and with oneself, literary essays), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1964), pp. 123-38; Ber Borokhov, Shprakh-forshung un literatur-geshikhte (Language research and literary history) (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1966), pp. 342-45; Shmuel Niger, Yidishe shrayber fun tsvantsikstn yorhundert (Yiddish writers of the twentieth century), vol. 1 (New York, 1972), pp. 336-48; Yankev Glatshteyn, In der velt mit yidish, eseyen (In the world with Yiddish, essays) (New York, 1972), pp. 20-36; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).