Abraham Samuel Schwartz (1876-1957) spent the majority of his life as a medical doctor with a busy practice in the Jewish neighborhoods of Brooklyn, until retiring at the age of 77. He was the elder brother of Israel Jacob Schwartz, the Yiddish modernist poet and translator (author, incidentally, of ×§×¢× ×˜×Ö¸×§×™ Kentucky, a Yiddish epic about the adaptation of Lithuanian Jews to life in rural America. You can download it in Yiddish here.)
He was born outside Vilnius, in Lithuania. His father was a learned Hebrew scholar, and Schwartz himself quickly excelled in Talmudic studies. He broke with tradition when he discovered secular literature, first in Yiddish and Hebrew, then in Russian. He arrived in New York at the age of 24 (followed by his brother four years later) with the hope of making his living with literary work, but soon found this impossible. He obtained a medical degree, and thereafter began his practice. He continued to write poetry during spare moments of respite from tending the ill.
His style, however, was out of step with the dominant trends of Hebrew verse outside the US. The fact that, like most American Hebrew poets of the period, he never abandoned his Ashkenazi Hebrew dialect in verse, was a major strike against him. The fact that he stood quite apart from dominant trends of Hebrew modernism also sealed the fate of his reception.
Schwartz's work, rejected by publishers never saw the light of day in his lifetime. Two years after his death, it took the combined sympathies and effort of Zalman Shazar and Simon Halkin to see a single (and thus far the only) volume of his work to publication in Israel.
Aspects of sound-play relying on Ashkenazic Hebrew can be found in the poem translated here. For example, ×—×•×œ×™× sick and ×—×•×œ× dreaming may sound somewhat similar in Israeli Hebrew but they are more so in Ashkenazic, and in some registers and dialects of Ashkenazic they are identical. Schwartz himself may have pronounced both identically.
Among the Sick By Abraham Samuel Schwartz Translated by A.Z. Foreman I walk among the sick as I have ever done: in pain Lies Susie silent, thin and delicate. And her emaciated face exudes her childhood grace And charm. But her white blood cells seal her fate. It gladdens me to see a wakeful smile on Leah's lips. She's been asleep in fever all week long. Although her heart disease is chronic, and there is no cure, If she takes better care, she might live long. I'm satisfied with seventy-year-old Spiegel. He has stopped Vomiting blood. His appetite is back. His stomach growths have turned out to be non-malignant ulcers Which medicine can easily combat. I pause with Schur, a young man with deep eyes. He dreams of light, For all the blood occlusion in his heart. He asks "Doc, isn't it my time already to get up" I lie "A little while and then you'll start." Sometimes I stop and suddenly hear a repressed thought That taunts me in my heart and whispers: "this Whole world of yours is hanging by a hair above The screaming depths of an abyss. You're like a man who plays the seer with fate of hidden worlds, Aflutter in between great hope and dread. You weigh with a physician's balance: will he live or die? You're day-full, tired of lives being swept off to the dead. You're pleased that with your mighty effort you can paste together Some scattered shards of the frail human urn, So that it can contain a few more stolen drops of life Before fate's mysteries shatter it in turn? What of the pain in your own heart, what of your tear for that Dreamer of light when light departs his eye, And for the charming girl who soon will be the food of worms, If all of humankind were soon to die?"