When Chava Rosenfarb arrived in Montreal in February 1950, she was already a published poet with one acclaimed volume, Di balade fun nekhtikn vald (The Ballad of Yesterday’s Forest) to her credit. She was also a Holocaust survivor who, after being liberated from Bergen Belsen in 1945 had crossed the border illegally into Belgium, where she lived with her mother, sister and husband, all Holocaust survivors. In 1950 Rosenfarb’s Montreal publisher, Harry Hershman, who had just published a Canadian edition of Di balade fun nekhtikn vald sponsored the entire group to come to Canada. Rosenfarb and her family settled in Montreal. Almost all of the poems in this collection were originally published in Yiddish. Chava Rosenfarb herself translated most of them into English. The poems have been arranged so that they follow roughly the chronology of Rosenfarb’s life, beginning with the poems she wrote in the Lodz ghetto as a young girl and moving to the more mature poems of her years in Canada.
Chava Rosenfarb was one of the most important Yiddish novelists and writers of the second half of the twentieth century. Her primary subject was the Holocaust; she was a survivor of the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz, and Bergen Belsen. She was born in Lodz, Poland in 1923. In 1939, when she was 16, the Nazis invaded Poland and her life was changed forever. She and her family were incarcerated, along with the rest of the Jewish population of Lodz in the Lodz ghetto. In the ghetto she wrote poems during those days of constant terror. In 1944 when the Lodz ghetto was liquidated, Chava and her family were transported to Auschwitz and later to Bergen Belsen, before being liberated by British forces in 1945. After spending several years homeless and stateless in Europe, she came to Canada in 1950 and settled in Montreal.