Leyb Naydus was born in Grodno, White Russia on October 6, 1890. He was raised in Grodno and on his family’s estate, located on today’s Belarusian-Polish border. A star poet of his generation, Naydus fused together Jewish, local, and international elements to create a beautiful body of Yiddish poetry that was striking in its seeming “un-Jewishness.”
According to the scholar of Yiddish poetry Benjamin Harshav, Naydus’s “fine, well-metered poems were filled with French words, pianos, Chopin nocturnes, and nostalgia.”
Naydus died of diphtheria at 28 years old in Grodno on December 23, 1918.
A recent volume has been published by Jordan Finkin that explores the work of this brilliant poet and includes some exquisite translations of his poetry, including the poem on Islam, below, printed above photographs of local Tatar mosques in the vicinity of Naydus’s hometown.