Posts tagged leib kvitko.


National Poetry Month
On a Poem by Leyb Kvitko
by J.D. Arden, M.L.I.S. candidate, Reference Services Research Intern, Center for Jewish History

Inscrutable Cat
by Leyb Kvitko (c.1890-1952), 
translated from Yiddish by A. Mandelbaum & H. Rabinowitz

This poem is taken from The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse, published in 1987, and is one of many such books available in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. 

Inscrutable cat!

I am as still, as still as you,
Although you tread with shadow-steps - 
The peace of distant worlds within your gaze
So softly in the shadows of my rage…

I am as still, as still as you…
Along my meager island shore - 
The island of my memory - where ruins flicker faintly through
Awareness with its waves, its fog,
On that pathetic island
At times there creeps an ancient frog.
Lazily he looks about, lazily he croaks - 
At all that was, the old, the shriveled heretofore.
Then lazily he turns around; he croaks another croak - 
At the insane, the stolen here and now.
In me the present and the past are soon to speak no more.
Only the croaking will be etched into my island shore.
I start to sink into a shapeless torpor
And - 
I am as still, as still as you…

more on Leib Kvitko

& Dos Ketsele, Kvitko’s book The Kitten, specifically


Жизнь и творчество Льва Квитко (The Life and Work of Leib Kvitko) — М., 1976

Leyb Kvitko (1890 [or 1893]–1952), Yiddish and Russian writer. Born in Holoskovo, near Odessa, Leyb Kvitko lost both of his parents very early and was raised by his grandmother.

The introduction to Kvitko’s prose book Tsvey khaveyrim (Two Friends; 1933) explained: “As of 1930, L. Kviko’s poetic route became straighter . . . reflecting . . . the revolution and Soviet reality.” This story, devoted to Slavic–Jewish brotherhood—and also known as Lyam un Petrik (Lyam [a Jewish boy] and Petrik [his gentile friend])—had arguably the largest number of editions in Yiddish and other languages of any Soviet Yiddish prose work. Kvitko, unlike Chukovskii and several other Soviet children’s writers, wrote about events in the lives of ordinary people. The universal character of many of his pieces for children facilitated their translation and popularity.

Kvitko was a delegate to the First Congress of Soviet Writers in 1934. He was named to the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1939. Thus, the authorities placed him one step lower than Perets Markish, who was named to the Order of Lenin, but one step higher than Fefer and Hofshteyn, named to the Order of Honor. According to the Soviet literary historian Hersh Remenik, Kvitko’s popularity as a children’s poet unfairly eclipsed his importance as a folk poet, whose Yiddish poetry “had revealed the sadness of a world and the rise of a new world.” While non-Yiddish readers knew Kvitko only as a children’s poet, his Yiddish poetry collections continued to appear in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as posthumously.

During World War II, Kvitko was a member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC). He was arrested with other members of the JAC and executed on 12 August 1952.

(via YIVO)

  August 12, 2012 at 08:29pm via


Birds in Yiddish children’s book, Leib Kwitko and Issachar Ber Ryback, Schwellen Verlag, Berlin, 1922

"Foyglen (Birds) is the title of a Yiddish children’s book by Leib Kvitko. It was illustrated by Issachar Ber Ryback.

More posts on illustrator Issachar Ryback
More posts on author Leib Kvitko

  July 17, 2012 at 10:02am via sshmeer


A tsig mit zibn tsigelekh, ṭeḳsṭ / א ציג מיט זיבן ציגעלעך, טעקסט ל. קװיטקא ; בילדער א. סודאמארא by Center for Jewish History, NYC on Flickr.

Written by Leib Kvitko, illustrated by A. Sudamara

Read the entire book here.

The cover of In the Forest, a 1922 Yiddish children’s book by Leib Kvitko and illustrated by Issachar Ryback. Read the entire book here.

RYBACK, ISSACHAR (1897–1935), Russian-French artist. Ryback was born in the Ukrainian town of Elisavetgrad (now Kirovo) and studied at the Academy in Kiev. After the Revolution of 1917, the central committee of the Jewish Cultural League in Kiev appointed him as drawing teacher. Ryback visited the Jewish farm colonies that had sprung up in the Ukraine under the new regime. The fruit of this journey was a portfolio, On the Jewish Fields of the Ukraine (1926), with reproductions of drawings and paintings. He showed strong sunburned men and women as opposed to the pale and wan Jews he had known in Kirovo. In 1926 he went to Paris, where he became a success, and in 1935, Wildenstein, the art dealer, planned a large retrospective exhibition of his work. On the eve of the opening Ryback died suddenly.

Ryback learned a great deal from the French cubists as well as from the German expressionists. Most of his work, however, is devoted to themes remembered from his youth. The murder of his father by Cossack bands in a pogrom became a kind of obsession. Ryback drew and painted much the same subjects favored by Chagall, with whom his talent bears comparison. His manner, however, was more somber and more tragic. In addition to drawings, paintings, and prints, he left a series of delightful small ceramic figures, representing folk types of the shtetl. Ryback House, displaying the finest examples of the artist’s work, was opened in 1962 at Ramat Yosef in Israel. The collection was donated by his widow, Sonia, who became the director of this small, but important, museum. (via  Jewish Virtual Library)

See more of his works here.

  April 21, 2012 at 11:03pm

Скрипочка (Violin) — Харьков, 1928
illustrated by Г. Фишер (G. Fischer), poetry by Leib Kvitko

  March 21, 2012 at 03:30am via

Жизнь и творчество Льва Квитко (The Life and Work of Leib Kvitko) — М., 1976

Leib Kvitko (Russian: Лейб Квитко, Yiddish: לייב קוויטקאָ) (October 15, 1890 – August 12, 1952) was a prominent Yiddish poet, an author of well-known children’s poems and a member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC). He was one of the editors of Eynikayt (the JAC’s newspaper) and of the Heymland, a literary magazine. He was executed in Moscow on August 12, 1952 together with twelve other members of the JAC, a massacre known as the Night of the Murdered Poets.

He was born in a Ukrainian shtetl, attended traditional Jewish religious school for boys (Cheder) and was orphaned early. He moved to Kiev in 1917 and soon became one of the leading Yiddish poets of the “Kiev group”. (via Wikipedia)

More on the Night of the Murdered Poets

  March 21, 2012 at 03:27am via



Yiddish children’s book (The Kitten by Leib Kvitko), Odessa, 1935. From the Center for Jewish History, who offer this description:

A little boy and his kitten are best friends and play together day and night. But instead of catching mice at home, the kitten plays and dances with them. When the boy’s mother finds this out, she throws the kitten out of the house. The kitten returns when the boy’s mother is away. The little boy rejoices, and his mother only smiles when she comes back and sees them together again.

Yiddish: Dos ketsele

To read the entire book, click here.

(via gotochelm)