This collection contains poems about the idyllic world of a small town in Poland before World War II, recollected by Yoram Eckstein, who survived the war in exile in the Soviet Union. His images of that exile
Quietly falls the snow In the dead of the arctic winter Covering the endless expanse of taiga with ghostly white gown
where he shared the barracks of a labor camp with other “freezing exhausted bodies,” is a cold metaphoric plunge after reading of his memories of Poland:
Garden of my childhood Drenched in sun and fragrance Planted forever in my dreams By my parents.
Those memories of Poland are evoked partly by memory, as he was barely two years old when World War II occurred, and partly by reminiscences of his parents, it seems. But the memories he had as one of the European refugees in Boukhara in 1941 are vivid, such as watching people sell all they had left for food and “fending off lice and thieves” on a daily basis.
The last section deals with the conflicts he had and has still concerning leaving his homeland and then revisiting the “Cracow of my youth.” It is the pain of recollecting those wonderful moments of the past that go by fleetingly that Eckstein can convey so forcefully, as in his poem “Sweet memories of youth:”
I remember a sweet fragrance Of a nearby orange grove We were young and entranced By the moment, hope and love
We both hoped it would last forever And be there for us to behold Always to return to heal and soothe But we forgot the way back as we grew old.