"A Generation of Wonderful Jews Will Grow from the Land": The Desire for Nativeness in Hebrew Israeli Poetry

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This article examines the ways in which the desire for nativeness is constructed in Israeli Hebrew poetry through several historical episodes: H. N. Bialik’s poem 1896 poem “In the Field”; the poets as pioneers/immigrants in the 1920s, in contrast to the “nativist” poet Esther Raab; and the “nativist” poets of the 1950s (Statehood Generation), focusing on Moshe Dor. The desire to be native— to belong to the land in a way that is natural, self-evident, and therefore absolute and unquestionable— is one of the constitutive desires of nationalism in general, and of Zionism in particular. In Bialik’s poem, written during the formative stage of Zionism, this desire emerges as the desire to be a beloved son of mother-earth, which is an allegory for the universal “family of nations.” This desire is realized paradoxically in the form of ownerhip over the land. In the 1920s, the stage of the realization of Zionism, the immigrant pioneers imagine nativeness in the form of their masculine desire of the land as woman—a desire to conquer, fertilize and to own it. The poetry of Raab, being both a biographical native and a woman, exemplifies the “poetics of nativeness.” With the foundation of the State of Israel and the symbolic realization of Zionist desire, nativist poetry (such as the poetry of Moshe Dor) emerges as a poetry of men, who see themselves as the sons of the land, and who are nostalgic about their native position as a lost privilege.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalCLCWeb - Comparative Literature and Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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