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ELISHEVA° (pen name of Elisheva Bikhowsky née Elizaveta Zhirkova; 1888–1949), non-Jewish Hebrew poet. Born in Russia, she began writing poetry in Russian in 1907, came into contact with Jewish circles, and was deeply attracted by the movement for Jewish national renaissance. Her admiration for the Jewish people and their hopes for redemption found expression in poems full of yearning for the beautiful and noble qualities of Judaism. Her Russian poems were published in two volumes in 1919: Minuty ("Minutes") and Tainye Pesni ("Hidden Songs"). She studied Hebrew, which she regarded as the "language of the heart of lights and shadow," and translated into Russian works by Judah Steinberg, J.H. Brenner, J.D. Berkowitz, G. Schoffmann, and U.N. Gnessin. Her first Hebrew poems were published in Ha-Tekufah (1921) no. 13. In addition to stories and poems, her Hebrew writings include articles of literary criticism on Hebrew and general European literature, particularly Russian. In 1925 she settled in Palestine with her husband Simeon Bikhowsky, whom she had married in 1920. Referred to as "Ruth from the banks of the Volga," her stories and her poems are pervaded by a deep love of everything Jewish. Her poems often have the innocence of a folk song, while her stories reflect a desire to stress the noble elements in life and to describe all that is good and exalted in man. Her Hebrew books are Kos Ketannah ("A Small Cup," poems, 1926); Sippurim ("Stories," 1928); "Mikreh Tafel" ("Unimportant Incident," a story, 1929); Simtaot ("Alleys," a novel, 1929; 1977); Meshorer ve-Adam ("Poet and Man," about the poetry of Aleksandr Blok, 1929); Shirim ("Poems," 1946). A collection of poems, Yalkut Shirim, appeared in 1970.

Sources:V. Weiner, Pirkei Ḥayyim ve-Sifrut (1960), 74–96; Genazim, 1 (1961), 151–67; Koveẓ Ma'amarim odot ha-Meshoreret Elisheva (1927); H. Barzel, "Essay," in: Simta'ot (1977); G. Shaked, in: Maariv (Sept. 7, 1983); idem, Ha-Sipporet ha-'Ivrit, 3 (1988), 87–93; O. Rav-Hon, in: Moznayim, 67:10 (1993), 7–11; S. Kagan, Elisheva: "The Forgotten Poetess," in: Jewish Affairs, 52:3 (1997), 115–18; S. Kornhandler, Ikkaron ha-Hitraḥavutha-Zhaneristit bi-Yeẓiratah shel Elisheva (1999); D. Miron, "She'atah shel Elisheva," in: Iyyunim bi-Tekumat Yisrael, 12 (2002), 521–66; 13, 345–92.

[Gedalyah Elkoshi]

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