Volkns Ibern Dach (Clouds over the roof), Itzig Manger, London, 1942.

MangerClouds01Itzig Manger was a Yiddish poet, playwright, prose writer and essayist.  He was born Isidor Helfer in Czernowitz (then in Rumania, now known as Chernivtsi in the Ukraine), the son of a Jewish tailor.  His family moved to Jassy, in Rumania, when he was 14 and learned Yiddish.  He published many poems and ballads in Yiddish periodicals and newspapers in Rumania and elsewhere.  He also lived in Poland. then Paris, Marseilles, Algiers and London, where he stayed for ten years before moving again to the United States.

Manger was 27 when he arrived in Warsaw as a Romanian poet with thick, disheveled flowing hair, blazing eyes, and a lighted cigarette perpetually dangling from his lips. To the Yiddish literary scene of that city, Manger was an exotic newcomer. He would call this period (1928–1938) “my most beautiful decade.” It was by far his most productive.

As a Romanian national, Manger was forced to leave Poland in 1938 and headed for Paris.  When northern France fell to the Germans in 1940, he headed south to Marseilles, and from there made his way to England.

In London, he became a British citizen and published this collection of poems in 1942 and Hotsmach-shpil: A Goldfadn motiv in drey oktn (a play) in 1947.

MangerClouds02Volkns ibern Dach was printed in Whitechapel by Israel Narodiczky.  My copy has a nice inscription.

In March 1951, went to Montreal, and from there to New York.In 1958 Manger made his first trip to Israel, where he eventually settled.

Itzig Manger wrote for an overwhelmingly secular and working-class readership, and aligned himself with the Bund.


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