The Arty Semite

National Poetry Month: An Ancient and Modern Job

By Ezra Glinter

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‘The Patient Job’ by Gaspare Traversi

As it’s title indicates, Freddy Frankel’s “Job,” featured today on The Arty Semite in honor of National Poetry Month, is about the biblical figure tested by Satan to see whether his piety was sincere. In Frankel’s rendering, Job is at once the ancient figure of the Bible (“Desolate on the dung-hill”), as well as a more modern victim of calamity, perhaps a Holocaust victim (“my life aflame like books banned”). The final line makes Job a thoroughly contemporary character, as he ponders the impossibility of obtaining justice for irreparable suffering.

Before devoting himself full-time to poetry, Freddy Frankel had a distinguished career as a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Beth Israel Hospital. A native of South Africa, he served with the British Army during World War II before immigrating to the United States following the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960. His latest book, “Wresting Angels,” is available from Ibetson Street Press.


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