Bialik, Hayim Nahman (H. N.) (1873–1934) By Segal, Miryam
Hayim Nahman Bialik was one of the most influential and widely-read Hebrew poets of the twentieth century. He revitalized modern Hebrew poetry with his romantic tropes, intense introspection, allusive irony and modernist treatment of language. Together with Shaul Tchernichovsky, his peer in the literary revival of the turn of the century, Bialik re-invented the sound of Hebrew poetry by introducing accentual-syllabic meter to Hebrew.
Bialik was born into a religious and very poor family, and engaged with the Jewish textual tradition even after leaving behind, first, his Hasidic upbringing, and then the more rationalist and intellectual but ultimately unsatisfying world of the famous Volozhin yeshiva.
Bialik spent the better part of three very productive decades in Odessa, the capital of the literary revival in which he was received as a young literary talent, then as national poet and one of the foremost Hebrew writers. He wrote lyric poetry, long poems, poems in the form of folk-song lyrics, children’s poetry and essay, and was an important figure in Hebrew publishing, with a particular interest in preserving the ‘Jewish Bookcase’ of classic works for secular Hebrew culture.