Michael Gluzman illustrates the problematic historical perspective of multiple literary critics. He quotes Bloom, who explains the role of women in the creative process: “what is the Primal Scene, for a poet as poet? It is his Poetic Father’s coitus with the Muse.” (Gluzman, “The Exclusion of Women from Hebrew Literary History,” 264.) In Bloom’s outlook, the only room for a female archetype is the Muse, objectified, sexualized, and, of course, silent. Certainly the Muse’s influence cannot be through her own intellectual or creative pursuits. If Bloom’s perspective seems to minimize the role of women in the arc of poetic history, his co-critics erase women from the sphere of poetics completely, creating locked worlds of male poets in a never-ending cycle of rejecting and/or building upon their (also male) predecessors and contemporaries.
It is clear that those commentators overlook the contribution of women poets to the trajectory of the Hebrew (and, ultimately world) poetic tradition. Reading excerpts from Nathan Zach’s 1966 manifesto, also included in Gluzman’s article (Gluzman, 270, 272-3), it seemed as if he had studied Rachel’s own manifesto, Al Ot haZman, and yet he does not cite her. Her insistence on “simple expression” as a poetic value seeped into the poetic cannon, and yet her marginal status as a woman meant that it did so without recognition, as if by coincidence, the aesthetic was discovered somewhat later by someone who rescued it from the hands of those who ought not to be wielding a pen in the first place.
Rachel’s striking repetition of words for silence in so many of her poems speaks to the reflexive influence of the exclusion of women poets on the poetry of women. She developed a vocabulary to describe not simply her autobiographical experience, but, like other poets female and male, a vocabulary that described the world in which she lived. For Rachel, it was a world of simple phrases that described both ordinary and sublime experiences in a realm of endless noiselessness.