20 Adar 5778/February 24, 2019
Dear friends and fellow poets,
We are happy
To let you know that The Deronda Review
for the year 2019 is now online.
After our issue on the theme of “flight”
our muse advised: “Now pick a destination,”
and so we picked “Utopia,” despite
a sense that it might seem -- how shall we put it --
a little out of tune with present trends.
But we were counting on what Yeats once termed
“the fascination of what is difficult.”
Or as one of us phrased it, some years back:
“Utopia! Thou star of human making
which we from time to time have tried to thrust
beyond the gravity of earth, in hopes
of setting up in the ambiguous heavens
An ever-fixed mark to guide our journeys
Upon this erring sphere! Again, again
You’ve fallen back to earth and cracked in pieces,
Showing the rubble of which you were made,
And sometimes there were people underneath.
And yet we have no choice but to thrust out
Such worlds, and hope that one at last will fly,
Lest we grow savage in the dreamless dark.”
In that spirit we sifted what came in,
declining, for the most part, expositions
of what we knew already: that dystopian
forecasts appear more plausible these days;
that previous Utopias have worse
than failed; and that in any case we wouldn’t
want to live in a perfect world--perhaps
there’s really something in each one of us
that feels that way. We’re primed to cope with crisis;
what would become of us, if all were solved?
And so we make, or try to make, our peace
with the state of nature, though we can't be certain
that it wants peace with us.
Speaking of which,
we write to you from what is after all
a Utopian experiment of sorts,
namely the state of Israel. Not yet,
admittedly, the perfect state, but still
a start. Whether you think we hold this land
on lease from the Almighty, or regard
the world’s permission for our state to rise
as compensation for the crimes against us--
this is a country founded on a premise
of justice, rather than mere right of might.
If there’s a chance for this, there is a chance
for all of us. If humankind can want it--
that is the question. Behind all arguments,
accusations, craven calculations,
that is the question. Can the natural world
endure the irruption of a higher law
on and around this marginal spot of earth
and bid it welcome, or must it turn away
toward the outcomes which the natural laws decree?
--But we digress.
You’ll find, our new pages,
not much Utopian planning (just a little),
but intimations of Utopian being,
anticipations, illuminations, movement
in a direction not yet quite descried.
A kind of predawn light, more felt than seen,
shone for us from these works as we arranged them.
Thanks to all those who answered to our call
and to the Raanans, for Yoram’s paintings
that shine upon our covers with the full
light of new inspiration since the fire.
As to our next year's theme – our muse prompts "Building."
The issue now is posted in two formats:
.html, easily viewed on smartphone,
and .pdf, which, printed out in duplex
gives a facsimile of the print edition
readable on Shabbat.
Wishing to all
seasons of growth and hopeful inspiration
Esther Cameron, Editor-in Chief
Mindy Aber Barad, Co-Editor