Rachel Korn

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Rachel Korn (circa 1930)

Rachel (Rokhl) Häring Korn (Yiddish: רחל קאָרן , January 1898 – 9 September 1982) was a Polish-born Canadian Yiddish language poet and author.


  • my mother’s special wish that the oven should be “really remarkable,” as if the rest of the house were only an addition to the oven, as if all her thoughts and dreams would warm themselves there.
  • Like a spoiled rich child, the meager stream of honored cream flowed out of a narrow tube, while the common thin milk, its essence taken from it, gushed out of the larger tube in a rush.

Speech (1977)


translated from Yiddish by Michael Yashinsky

  • I was born and raised on a farm, ringed with fields and forests, where even to arrive at the nearest village was a serious journey, especially for a child’s tiny feet. I had no friends. Instead of friends, I had trees, and I spoke to them.
  • what, in essence, is poetry. To me it seems that it is a magical transporter through time and space because it manages to contain the present, the past, even the future. Poetry is also the only literary medium that allows for the deformation of reality in service of artistic vision while at the same time endowing that vision with a marked purpose defined by all the attributes of reality.
  • Often the poet will take faded words, lying forgotten and cobwebbed. He shakes off their dust, collected over generations, and marries them off to new images. He conducts them to a new breyshis, a second genesis. He also sets words as witnesses to the eternal struggle between justice and injustice, between purity and impurity.
  • a great poet or artist is no coincidence in the history of a people. He is the logical consequence of historical developments, a product of ceaseless labor that has lasted generations. Centuries are spent toiling in the dark laboratory of the national subconscious in order to produce such a perfect individual who could become the people’s memory, its tongue, and—its conscience. His rise may not be attributed only to himself but rather, should be considered an answer to the nation’s concealed questioning of its own fears, of its own dreams. Only then, when the people itself is creative, when it searches and struggles, when it collects its debts from itself alone, the answer comes—in the form of a tremendous poetic talent.

Quotes about

  • In modern Yiddish writing, the moral, spiritual, and emotional capital of generations of Jewish women was utilized by male and female writers alike...Female prose writers, such as Fradl Shtok, Esther Kreitman, Rokhl Korn, Kadia Molodowsky, and Khava Rosenfarb, also deepened the awareness and understanding of the feminine contribution to Jewish civilization...In the realm of poetry, four female writers deserve special mention: Miriam Ulinover, Kadia Molodowsky, Rokhl Korn, and Rajzel Zychlinsky...Rokhl Korn grew up in the Galician countryside, spent the war years in the Soviet Union, and emigrated to Canada in 1948. Her early stories and poems emphasized rootedness in nature and the landscape of her childhood, while her later work stressed rootlessness and homelessness. Her poetry excels in brevity and the deft utilization of silence. Hers is one of the major lyrical voices in modern Yiddish poetry. Of particular excellence are the poems about her mother, her love poems, and her poems about the Holocaust and the reborn Israel.
    • Emanuel Goldsmith Introduction to Songs to a Moonstruck Lady (2005)
  • the three most outstanding representatives of the Yiddish-Canadian literary group: J.I. Segal, Melekh Ravitch, and Rokhl Korn. Their presence in Canada corresponds to the most fruitful period of Yiddish-Canadian cultural life.
    • Chava Rosenfarb Harps on the St Lawrence: Yiddish Poets in Canada in Confessions of a Yiddish Writer and Other Essays, translated from the Yiddish with Goldie Morgentaler
  • In Poland one of the most outstanding of these neoclassical poets was Rachel Korn (who finally came to live in Canada), who writes with a deceptive simplicity, a pure lyricism.
    • Ruth Whitman and Robert Szulkin Introduction to An Anthology of Modern Yiddish Poetry
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