In Moyshe Leyb Halpern’s poem “In a Foreign World,” Halpern gives the reader a recollection an reflection of the poet’s journey from the old world into the new world, from childhood and youth to middle age. Throughout the poem, the speaker comments on his inability to settle into one permanent home; the speaker wanders constantly, even comparing himself to a gypsy, and wants to find a permanent place for himself. It is possible that the speaker’s inability to find a lasting home is because Halpern, as the author, had to leave Germany in order to avoid a military draft. Because he willingly left his home and the feeling of being comfortable where he was, his poems reflect a longing to be back where that feeling lies again. The speaker also continually mentions his feeling of loneliness and how the sea and being on ships represents to him being free.
The author also comments on the relationship between the Jews and the gentiles during his childhood. He observed and experienced physical abuse, which he states lead to his unhappiness. During different times of his life specifically as a child and when he wrote the poem, the speaker was not able to stand up to his abusers. He is not asking forgiveness from God, rather he seems to be abandoning religion all together.
It is understandable that the speaker is longing for a place to call home. He is tired of constantly wandering and not being able to settle in one place and not have to leave again. I’ve realized from the poem that no matter where you are in life and no matter what age you are at, you will always want to feel like you belong. No one wants to have the feeling of abandonment and having to deviate from what you think is your correct course. Also, it is interesting how one’s traumatic events that occurred in childhood will continue with you until adulthood, and can be the source of your feeling throughout life.
Halpern, Moshe Leib. “In a Foreign World.” In New York: A Selection. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1982. 88. Print.