Monday, April 26, 2010

Regina Derieva

Regina Derieva has already lived a fascinating life, and she is still just 60 years old, so she likely has time left to fascinate fans and biographers and even critics. She was born in the USSR but her official website describes how she and her family (all of whom had converted to Catholicism) moved to Isreal in 1990 but were refused citizenship because of their religion. Still, they were unable to leave the country. In 1999, the state finally allowed them to leave for the United States and Sweden. Derieva's son went to college in the U.S., and Derieva currently resides in Sweden where she continues to publish her own poerty and translate the work of others.
(Photo taken from Regina Derieva's official website.)

"It Was Not Necessary To Study"

It was not necessary to study
the language
of a strange country;
anyway, it would be of no help.
It was not necessary to know
where Italy or England
is located;
travel was obviously
out of question.
It was not necessary to live
among the wild beasts
of Noah's ark,
which had just devoured
the last dove of peace,
along with Noah
and his virtuous family.
It was not necessary to strive
for some holy land
awash in milk and honey,
according to rumor.

I cannot help but think that this poem describes Derieva's time as an alien in Israel. It was published in 2000, a year after she was granted permission to leave the country. I am especially drawn to the lines "It was not necessary to strive for some holy land awash in milk and honey, according to rumor." She was in the Holy Land. She experienced discrimination for being a non-Jew in the land of God's chosen people. She knew that Israel was the supposed Promised Land of milk and honey, and yet experienced nothing of the sort when she lived there. Also, I am sure that living in Isreal during the time of turmoil between the Jewish homeland and the Arab states surrounding it brought about the middle lines which talk about the "wild beasts of Noah's ark" that "devoured the last dove of peace along with Noah an dhis virtuous family." I doubt her time there was peaceful in any sense. She was a stranger in a country filled with terror and confusion, unable to leave, and unable to become a part of it. She wanted to leave and knew she would never be accepted there, so she thought it unnecessary to learn the language of the people or know where any other country was located because she could not leave and she could not stay.

It is usually taboo to label the speaker of the poem as the poet herself, but, in this case, I feel that the poem fits all too well with Derieva's biography, leaving me to judge as I did what the poem means from my viewpoint.

Here is the link to Derieva's official site which provides more of her biography and links to more of her fascinating poetry:

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