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The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai

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Yehuda Amichai is Israel's most popular poet as well as a literary figure of international reputation. In this revised and expanded collection, renowned translators Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell have selected Amichai's most beloved and enduring poems, including forty new poems from his recent work. from Tourists:Once I was sitting on the steps near the gate at David's Ci Yehuda Amichai is Israel's most popular poet as well as a literary figure of international reputation. In this revised and expanded collection, renowned translators Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell have selected Amichai's most beloved and enduring poems, including forty new poems from his recent work. from Tourists:Once I was sitting on the steps near the gate at David's Citadel and I put down my two heavy baskets beside me. A group of tourists stood there around their guide, and I became their point of reference. "You see that man over there with the baskets? A little to the right of his head there's an arch from the Roman period. A little to the right of his head." "But he's moving, he's moving!" I said to myself: Redemption will come only when they are told, "Do you see that arch over there from the Roman period? It doesn't matter, but near it, a little to the left and then down a bit, there's a man who has just bought fruit and vegetables for his family."


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Yehuda Amichai is Israel's most popular poet as well as a literary figure of international reputation. In this revised and expanded collection, renowned translators Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell have selected Amichai's most beloved and enduring poems, including forty new poems from his recent work. from Tourists:Once I was sitting on the steps near the gate at David's Ci Yehuda Amichai is Israel's most popular poet as well as a literary figure of international reputation. In this revised and expanded collection, renowned translators Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell have selected Amichai's most beloved and enduring poems, including forty new poems from his recent work. from Tourists:Once I was sitting on the steps near the gate at David's Citadel and I put down my two heavy baskets beside me. A group of tourists stood there around their guide, and I became their point of reference. "You see that man over there with the baskets? A little to the right of his head there's an arch from the Roman period. A little to the right of his head." "But he's moving, he's moving!" I said to myself: Redemption will come only when they are told, "Do you see that arch over there from the Roman period? It doesn't matter, but near it, a little to the left and then down a bit, there's a man who has just bought fruit and vegetables for his family."

30 review for The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai

  1. 4 out of 5

    PGR Nair

    AMALGAMATING AGONY AND ECSTASY: POETRY OF YEHUDA AMICHAI Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000) is a national icon in Israeli. No funeral, festivity or wedding in Israel passes without the fragrant whiff of his poetry. Everything he has witnessed in his life have filtered out through the prism of his consciousness and Jewish sensibilities as poetry. One can even say he was the liberator of Jewish language shackled in the shibboleth of rigor and torpor. Employing the style and idiom of a post-modernist, Amic AMALGAMATING AGONY AND ECSTASY: POETRY OF YEHUDA AMICHAI Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000) is a national icon in Israeli. No funeral, festivity or wedding in Israel passes without the fragrant whiff of his poetry. Everything he has witnessed in his life have filtered out through the prism of his consciousness and Jewish sensibilities as poetry. One can even say he was the liberator of Jewish language shackled in the shibboleth of rigor and torpor. Employing the style and idiom of a post-modernist, Amichai’s poems resoundingly reflect the human drama with an acute sense of the epoch he lived. Love, death, war, eroticism, history memory, patriotism, alienation, spirituality –all these and many more are the deep undercurrents in his oeuvre. Amicha is the most autobiographical of all the poets I have read so far. In an interview with Lawrence Joseph in ‘The Paris review’, Yehuda Amichai said: I never felt any sense of separation between an inner and outer world, and I don’t feel it now. Real poets, I think, turn the outer world into the inner world and vice versa. Poets always have to be outside, in the world—a poet can’t close himself in his studio. His workshop is in his head and he has to be sensitive to words and how words apply to realities. It’s a state of mind. A poet’s state of mind is seeing the world with a kind of double exposure, seeing undertones and overtones, seeing the world as it is. Every intelligent person, whether he’s an artist or not—a mathematician, a doctor, a scientist—possesses a poetic way of seeing and describing the world. His poetry is volatile, heart-burdened, ironic,nostalgic, irreverent, funny, angry, gentle and tender. At times I feel he is the Stravinsky in poetry in the way he startles us with unpredictable metaphors. His poetry is a symphony of our existence. Even with all his oddities, the beauty is that this poet remains remarkably accessible, imaginative, unburdened by artificiality and often conversational in his poems. It is his historical consciousness that makes Amichai’s poems at once tragic and humorous, tender and tough, direct and intricate. Al though he has fought in two wars, against the Germans and against the Arabs, he cannot accept the simplifications of nationalisms. He sometimes finds a detachment from his own country. The poem cited below shows the seamless meshing of his personal life with that of his country. It is soaked in simplicity and directness of emotions. From WHEN I WAS YOUNG THE WHOLE COUNTRY WAS YOUNG When I was young, the whole country was young. And my father was everyone’s father. When I was happy, the country was happy too, and when I jumped on her, she jumped under me. The grass that covered her in spring softened me too, and the dry earth of summer hurt me like my own cracked footsoles. When I first fell in love, they proclaimed her independence, and when my hair fluttered in the breeze, so did her flags. When I fought in the war, she fought, when I got up she got up too, and when I sank she began to sink with me. Now I’m beginning to come apart from all that: like something that’s glued, after the glue dries out, I’m getting detached and curling into myself. What I like best about Amichai is that he doesn’t put on the image of a great poet. His self-deprecating humour is indeed a humanizer. His natural instinct is to describe what is tangible, immediate, and concrete and the need to reach out to his backdrops. Therefore his sorrows become our sorrows. The next two poems will illustrate it. From FOR MY BIRTHDAY Thirty-two times I went out into my life, each time causing less pain to my mother, less to other people, more to myself. Thirty-two times I have put on the world and still it doesn't fit me. It weighs me down, unlike the coat that now takes the shape of my body and is comfortable and will gradually wear out. In a number of poems, Amichai focusses on the holiness of all aspects of existence-Physical, sensual and spiritual. The need to display a tough, macho exterior image is contrasted with inner feelings as sensitive and delicate as those of Jewish women who faint during wedding in this poem. One cannot resist noticing the heart-breaking line - Sometimes I come crashing down inside myself in this poem. YOU MUSTN'T SHOW WEAKNESS You mustn't show weakness and you've got to have a tan. But sometimes I feel like the thin veils of Jewish women who faint at weddings and on Yom Kippur. You mustn't show weakness and you've got to make a list of all the things you can load in a baby carriage without a baby. This is the way things stand now: if I pull out the stopper after pampering myself in the bath, I'm afraid that all of Jerusalem, and with it the whole world, will drain out into the huge darkness. In the daytime I lay traps for my memories and at night I work in the Balaam Mills, turning curse into blessing and blessing into curse. And don't ever show weakness. Sometimes I come crashing down inside myself without anyone noticing. I'm like an ambulance on two legs, hauling the patient inside me to Last Aid with the wailing of cry of a siren, and people think it's ordinary speech. Memory and forgetfulness are a persistent theme in his poetry. In a short later poem, "forgetting someone", the confusions of love are felt in ordinary ways: "Forgetting someone/is like forgetting to turn off the light in the backyard/ so it stays lit all the next day/But then it is the light/that makes you remember". In another poem he says: AN ETERNAL WINDOW In the garden I once heard a song or an ancient blessing. And above the dark trees a window is always lit, in memory of the face that looked out of it, and that face too was in memory of another lit window Amichai’s gift for understatement is most evident in the poem below. Perhaps readers can identify with it as we live in times of war and terrorism. Amicahi wonderfully demonstrates in this poem how a bomb's detonation included the entire world in its circle. THE DIAMETER OF THE BOMB ‘ The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters, with four dead and eleven wounded. And around these, in a larger circle of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered and one graveyard. But the young woman who was buried in the city she came from, at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers, enlarges the circle considerably, and the solitary man mourning her death at the distant shores of a country far across the sea includes the entire world in the circle. And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans that reaches up to the throne of God and beyond, making a circle with no end and no God. Amichai starts the description of the bomb explosion with a recitation of cold, technical facts -the diameter of the bomb, its range and the number of casualties. It gives the mind something concrete, objective to grasp when trying to contemplate the enormity of the murder. But then, unexpectedly and rather jarringly, he segues into a personal sketch of one of the victims and her grieving lover, "the solitary man mourning her death / at the distant shores of a country far across the sea"--two lines I find especially poignant. These cold numerical facts are intended only to make us realize that the diameter increases infinitely to include those affected: four dead and eleven wounded, two hospitals and a graveyard, the solitary man, the crying orphans, and God. It is incredible how a small explosion can reach a man in a country across the sea, and God in the heavens. Amichai's conversational, somewhat detached tone ("And I won't even mention...") throughout the poem, intensifies the horror of sudden violent death and the raw emotional loss that accompanies. As the poet concludes, taken far enough, the dimensions of these numerical measurements become too vast, too mysterious, for either human or divine calculus. How far this circle of loss extend? I don't know. Ultimately the poet says, it is ' a circle with no end'. How odd it is to consider why oftentimes it requires a tragedy before man can be aware that each one is inextricably connected to and responsible for each other and to the entire universe. What an individual does or fails to do, no matter how small, has repercussions to the same universe beyond what one consciously know. “God Has Pity on Kindergarten Children” is one of his most quoted and anthologized poems. The poem also typifies Amichai’s inclination, especially in his early poetry, to challenge and to transform in an acutely ironic fashion the traditional perception of God as merciful. Amichai had a complex relationship with Orthodox Judaism and conducted a grand theological argument with the Almighty, rejecting any submissive reverence and the certainties of an exclusive faith. GOD HAS PITY ON KINDERGARTEN CHILDREN God has pity on kindergarten children. He has less pity on school children And on grownups he has no pity at all, he leaves them alone, and sometimes they must crawl on all fours in the burning sand to reach the first–aid station covered with blood. But perhaps he will watch over true lovers and have mercy on them and shelter them like a tree over the old man sleeping on a public bench. Perhaps we too will give them the last rare coins of charity that Mother handed down to us so that their happiness may protect us now and on other days. The poem typifies Amichai’s inclination, especially in his early poetry, to challenge and to transform in an acutely ironic fashion the traditional perception of God as merciful. Amichai had a complex relationship with Orthodox Judaism and rejected a submissive reverence and the certainties of an exclusive faith. The title “God Has Pity on Kindergarten Children” positions the reader to expect a poem praising God’s benevolence, but it quickly develops into a searing tract about a universe devoid of higher kindliness. At first we are told that God does show mercy, but it is dispensed in a discriminatory manner, only to those who are regarded as totally pure—kindergarten children and, to a lesser extent, schoolchildren. In a sense it is not just God who offers his concern and protection to the innocent and powerless, but also the institutions of home, kindergarten, and school that proffer a shield. On the other hand, God denies the vulnerable grownups (embodied here as soldiers) of his sanctuary, even though soldiers are customarily in more peril than small children. Amichai marshals the image of soldiers crawling on all fours in the hot sands toward the first aid station, bloodied and wounded, to underline the idea that combatants (in this instance, during the war of independence) were not the objects of God’s watchfulness. This particular image struck a chord with Israelis, who were all too well acquainted with the high cost of successive wars. In this poem the soldiers, left entirely alone, have reverted to their infant state, dragging themselves as children do to be tended to. More broadly, this “last station” could symbolize the final destination for all of us. The second stanza convey the message that omnipotence does not have a duty to provide protection against danger or death. In the end, only love acts as a buffer for suffering adults. Only “true lovers” may well be deserving of God’s love. The idea developed in this poem—that only love can afford redemption that only love will drive away pain and cruelty—is a recurring theme in the Amichai poetic corpus. The last section of the poem suggests that generosity and empathy handed down in the form of “coins of compassion” by a mother (or mother figure) may generate happiness for the adults shunned by a discriminating God. Acts of maternal charity, Amichai says, will lead in turn to our protection. The referencing of “the mother” evokes the association of “motherly love” with its accompanying warmth and affection, remembered from childhood. The poem avers that human beings should not rely on God for refuge or mercy, but must be responsible for their own safe conduct. Amichai is asserting, contra Jewish religious dogma, that human goodness, kindness, and love are far superior shields and can function as a worthy substitute for God’s uncertain protection. Compassion is to be reclaimed here on Earth, rather than from the heavens, so evidently impoverished of kindness. The above poem can be classified as a modern opus, an existential meditation on the relationship between us and our creator. It confirms God’s presence in human affairs, but demonstrates humankind’s loss of faith and profound disappointment in what can only be seen as divine indifference to the uncertain lives of human beings. I had mentioned earlier the ‘tender’ aspect of his poetry. Here is a poem that I posted in Facebook on a Father’s day for which I received very good feedback. Amichai had brimming admiration and veneration for his father. This poem pay tributes to paternity. LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION On summer nights I sleep naked in Jerusalem .My bed stands on the brink of a deep valley without rolling down into it In the daytime I walk around with the Ten Commandments on my lips like a tune someone hums to himself. O touch me, touch me, you good woman! That’s not a scar you feel under my skirt, that’s a letter of recommendation, folded up tight, from my father: "All the same, he’s a good boy, and full of love" I remember my father waking me or early prayers. He would do it by gently stroking my forehead, not by tearing away the blanket. Since then I love him even more . And as his reward, may he be wakened gently and with love On the Day of Resurrection. The poem resonates with warmth, nostalgia and reverence for his dead father. It deeply conveys his sacred passion, unabashed feeling and tenderness. One has the feeling that, for Amichai, the road to childhood is still open. Playful wit doesn't work against the feeling, but in tandem with it in this poem. Unlike many modern poets, Amichai is a deep-rooted emotional poet who never shies away from displaying his emotions. It is this emotional fervour that alchemizes a love line like "O touch me, touch me, you good woman!" into a memorial poem and prayer for the dead. To feel that the poet himself is ‘a letter of recommendation’ has a rare breath of warmth. I like the sweet, gentle and religious father in his poem. On a lighter note, it made me smile to read the line-He would do it by gently stroking my forehead, not by tearing away the blanket. - as tearing the blanket away is still one last act I do to wake up my two lazy boys. The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai is translated by two different translators, unfortunately with differing sensibilities, Stephen Mitchel (poems written till 1969) and Chana Bloch (poems after 19690) . While Chana Bloch beautifully captures the essence of Amichai, Mitchell’s translation is more literal. I am saying this as I have another poetry collection of Amichai’s early poetry exquisitely translated by Assia Gutmann and my comparison showed the pitfalls of Mitchell. Here is the translation of one of his most famous poems by Assia Gutmann A PITY. WE WERE SUCH A GOOD INVENTION They amputated Your thighs off my hips. As far as I'm concerned They are all surgeons. All of them. They dismantled us Each from the other. As far as I'm concerned They are all engineers. All of them. A pity. We were such a good And loving invention. An aeroplane made from a man and wife. Wings and everything. We hovered a little above the earth. We even flew a little. This poem is wonderful in its directness and profound simplicity, its unique mixture of the erotic and the political, its subtle tone of outrage and nostalgia. The poem starts off with the image two lovers torn apart (by the inhuman societal force ‘they’) and concludes with the image (metaphor of aeroplane) of what they created. In Mitchell’s translation, he uses ‘doctors’ instead of surgeon thus losing the sarcasm. The ending in Mitchell’s translation is ‘we even flew’ and that vital ‘a little’ is missing. Despite this, as a single volume covering the poetry of his lifetime, this book is probably the best that I would recommend. To sum up, Yehuda Amichai was one of the greatest artists of 20th century and his poetry is a forceful and fanciful fusion of the beauty and pain of our existence.

  2. 4 out of 5

    The Awdude

    I don't read a lot of poetry, so I don't know enough about it to be able to recommend a poet to someone who does read a lot of poetry, but if I did then I would still probably recommend Yehuda Amichai. He's an Israeli poet (apparently they really dig poetry in Israel) and most of his poems are about his nation being at war with everyone for, like, ever. Some of the poems fell flat for me (mostly because I wasn't familiar with most of the obscure religious references peppered throughout), but on I don't read a lot of poetry, so I don't know enough about it to be able to recommend a poet to someone who does read a lot of poetry, but if I did then I would still probably recommend Yehuda Amichai. He's an Israeli poet (apparently they really dig poetry in Israel) and most of his poems are about his nation being at war with everyone for, like, ever. Some of the poems fell flat for me (mostly because I wasn't familiar with most of the obscure religious references peppered throughout), but on the other hand some of the poems hit me with a sledgehammer of awesome. War, childhood, aging, religion, and Jewish identity are the main themes, which aren't exactly easy targets to tackle with grace, but Amichai's voice comes at you sounding the way I'd imagine god's voice probably sounds. Or a really wise grandparent who's been using language long enough to know how to make it do anything (s)he wants it to. "Travels of the Last Benjamin in Tudela," the longest poem in the collection, is particularly breathtaking. But rather than say anything else about it, I'll just include one of my favorites of his shorter poems: "An Arab Shepherd Is Searching for His Goat on Mount Zion" An Arab Shepherd Is Searching for His Goat on Mount Zion and on the opposite mountain I am searching for my little boy, An Arab shepherd and a Jewish father both in their temporary failure. Our voices meet at the Sultan's Pool in the valley between us. Neither of us wants the child or the goat to get caught in the wheels of the terrible Had Gadya machine. Afterward we found them among the bushes and our voices came back inside us, laughing and crying. Searching for a goat or a son has always been the beginning of a new religion in these mountains.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Keyi

    The real question is why does Amichai's poetry have so many fruit but no vegetables.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Novack

    I heard Amichai speak when he was still alive, in Ohio, in 1997? 1998? and bought his book (this translation, which is the best (I have two others). Amichai, a wonderful Jewish poet, was a sincere, very humble, and very smart man. To see him read was a pleasure. More than anyone, in how many readings, I can't say. He was one of the best, I've ever seen, so HUMANE, if that means anything. Totally struck me and had me thinking for weeks about what it meant to be a writer, I mean to REALLY live the I heard Amichai speak when he was still alive, in Ohio, in 1997? 1998? and bought his book (this translation, which is the best (I have two others). Amichai, a wonderful Jewish poet, was a sincere, very humble, and very smart man. To see him read was a pleasure. More than anyone, in how many readings, I can't say. He was one of the best, I've ever seen, so HUMANE, if that means anything. Totally struck me and had me thinking for weeks about what it meant to be a writer, I mean to REALLY live the writing life. And beyond that, his poetry is such a lovely immersion into Jewish and American history; to me he is a little like Viktor Frankl meets Robert Frost. For anyone who loves poetry I recommend him. He almost won a NOBEL, his work was that respected (and I think they wanted to award him the PEACE PRIZE, as I remember...). Great read, wonderful translation--the best of those I've read, to my mind. And an inspiration to those who wish to be spare with prose, to those who need to remember their histories, and those who value emotional content.

  5. 4 out of 5

    stephanie cassidy

    God has pity on kindergarten children. He has less pity of school children. And on grownups he has no pity at all, he leaves them alone, and sometimes they must crawl on all fours in the burning sand to reach the first-aid station covered with blood. from "God Has Pity on Kindergarten Children"

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Never had heard of this author before being gifted this collection, but what an incredible intro to Israeli literature! Amichai is a stunning poet, and this book is a great taste of his entire bibliography. Since we are looking at poems from many decades, there is stylistic variety but there are certainly repeated themes. Amichai certainly has dark poems—he dwells on his loss of religious faith and the pain of participating in multiple wars—but he also writes tender love and family poems. A great Never had heard of this author before being gifted this collection, but what an incredible intro to Israeli literature! Amichai is a stunning poet, and this book is a great taste of his entire bibliography. Since we are looking at poems from many decades, there is stylistic variety but there are certainly repeated themes. Amichai certainly has dark poems—he dwells on his loss of religious faith and the pain of participating in multiple wars—but he also writes tender love and family poems. A great example of the power of this poet is the very first stanza from the collection: God has pity on kindergarten children. He has less pity on school children. And on grownups he has no pity at all, he leaves them alone, and sometimes they must crawl on all fours in the burning sand to reach the first-aid station covered with blood. (‘God has pity on kindergarten children ‘) While this is a sizable collection, you can pretty much open to any page and jump in easily. This man needs to be read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Demoness Tenebrae

    Delightful Discovery ! Although Yehuda Amichai is truly a great and well known name, I have not had the pleasure of reading his works until now and I am truly sorry for that for he is definitely a name, a must-read name, for everyone who enjoys poetry, literature and serious works that dabble in everything from love, life, war, different kinds of relationships and many are intertwined with religious, Biblical and Jewish motives. Yehuda Amichai was an Israeli poet, by many the most famous of the mo Delightful Discovery ! Although Yehuda Amichai is truly a great and well known name, I have not had the pleasure of reading his works until now and I am truly sorry for that for he is definitely a name, a must-read name, for everyone who enjoys poetry, literature and serious works that dabble in everything from love, life, war, different kinds of relationships and many are intertwined with religious, Biblical and Jewish motives. Yehuda Amichai was an Israeli poet, by many the most famous of the modern Israeli poets. His life wasn't easy and his choices have taken him down some very hard roads but also enriched his life and his spirit which he describes in his poems. His poems are memorable because at first look they seem simple and straightforward but when you spend a little time on them, when you read them a couple of times and take them apart you will notice remarkable metaphors which will then stay with you for hours, days and longer, you will be unable to take your mind off of some of them. And that is what a truly great poet does. He finds his way into your heart and your head and creates ideas, thoughts and evokes feelings which will enrich your life in one way or the other. I have only read his poems in English and Croatian but I have read many reviews that state how beautiful and rich his poems are when speaking of language in which he wrote in and that is colloquial Hebrew (one of the first poets to write in colloquial Hebrew). I believe it is so because even in my language his poems echo through my mind and my soul. One of my favourite ones is "A Pity, We Were Such a Good Invention" : "They amputated Your thighs off my hips. As far as I'm concerned They are all surgeons. All of them. They dismantle us Each from the other. As far as I'm concerned They are all engineers. All of them. A pity. We were such a good And loving invention. An aeroplane made from a man and wife. Wings and everything. We hovered a little above the earth. We even flew a little."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cara Diaconoff

    By way of a "review," I'll simply copy out one of the shorter poems: Fields of Sunflowers Fields of sunflowers, ripe and withering, don't need the warmth of the sun anymore, they're brown and wise already. They need sweet shadow, the inwardness of death, the interior of a drawer, a sack deep as the sky. Their world to come the innermost dark of a dark house, the inside of a man. Oh . . . okay, maybe a few actual review-type words. I'm no expert on him and seem to have acquired the book by mere happenstanc By way of a "review," I'll simply copy out one of the shorter poems: Fields of Sunflowers Fields of sunflowers, ripe and withering, don't need the warmth of the sun anymore, they're brown and wise already. They need sweet shadow, the inwardness of death, the interior of a drawer, a sack deep as the sky. Their world to come the innermost dark of a dark house, the inside of a man. Oh . . . okay, maybe a few actual review-type words. I'm no expert on him and seem to have acquired the book by mere happenstance. But he's so great: the mixture of humor and resignation (to aging and death) with the surrealism of so many of the images. The images of loved women, in particular, stand out so specifically--he gives them their subjectivity--even as he also uses the love poems, notably, to comment on his own sense of himself as an individual in history: a historicized identity in the deepest and most complex sense of the phrase.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Edgar Trevizo

    Right now I could say this is the best poetry book I’ve ever read. Which wouldn’t be precise. How can we tell, anyway? But I can certainly tell you, this is one of the best books I’ve come across. I want to carry it with me, always, every day until the last. It is that beautiful.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sigfried

    This is the only book of poetry that ever made me cry. I don't cry. What worries me is that this is all translated from Hebrew...so who should I really thank? Yehuda or the translators? I just found another reason to cry...damn.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    Perfect poems concerning sex, love, war, family, nation, and the other essentials. Profound, lucidly written, and rife with complex, sensuous metaphors that really *catch*. I aspire to write poems like these some day.

  12. 4 out of 5

    M

    Wildpeace Not the peace of a cease-fire, not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb, but rather as in the heart when the excitement is over and you can talk only about a great weariness. I know that I know how to kill, that makes me an adult. And my son plays with a toy gun that knows how to open and close its eyes and say Mama. A peace without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares, without words, without the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be light, floating, like lazy white foam. A litt Wildpeace Not the peace of a cease-fire, not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb, but rather as in the heart when the excitement is over and you can talk only about a great weariness. I know that I know how to kill, that makes me an adult. And my son plays with a toy gun that knows how to open and close its eyes and say Mama. A peace without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares, without words, without the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be light, floating, like lazy white foam. A little rest for the wounds— who speaks of healing? (And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation to the next, as in a relay race: the baton never falls.) Let it come like wildflowers, suddenly, because the field must have it: wildpeace.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    Read cover-to-cover over the past 6 months or so...good to spend time with such a huge figure. In general I enjoyed the later poems more.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dara

    Looking forward to reading many of these poems again to internalize them.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dina Rahajaharison

    "Souviens-toi de moi, / Comme de peu ou de beaucoup, / Souviens-toi de moi dans les couloirs de la mort / Et dans les plaisirs qui se levèrent / Avec une grande lumière."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Albert

    Some great lines throughout. The notes seem kind of arbitrary so thanks be for the internet.

  17. 5 out of 5

    David

    Reading Bloch's translation of Amichai's poems from the 1970s again, I can see that he is my favorite poet, an all around human being in his poems, somebody who writes out of his important and basic relationships to parents, children, wives, friends, city, country, landscapes, seascapes & God. It is fascinating because when he writes he is seemingly only concerned with these basic connections, and this is a quality one would expect to find all over the place, but is not found all over the pl Reading Bloch's translation of Amichai's poems from the 1970s again, I can see that he is my favorite poet, an all around human being in his poems, somebody who writes out of his important and basic relationships to parents, children, wives, friends, city, country, landscapes, seascapes & God. It is fascinating because when he writes he is seemingly only concerned with these basic connections, and this is a quality one would expect to find all over the place, but is not found all over the place. And best of all, he does this in lyric poems that are just right there. You don't have to push aside his intellectual plumage to get to the good stuff. In this sense, he is surprisingly like the first three or four Ramones albums in the way he deploys his entertaining tools. Amichai is a poet you can read over and over again with pleasure.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    As one reviewer wrote of Amichai, "At his best, he's the best." This book remains one of my gold standards of poetry - the accumulation of simple but striking metaphors, the surprising twist of everyday language, the Biblical and Jewish references woven through his work, and, most of all, the sheer humanity of it all...this is some of poetry at its finest in any language. Run to the store or your local library and get it. See if it doesn't move you.

  19. 5 out of 5

    K.samayavel

    Yehuda is a great Poet and I liked lot Poems in this anthology. Translated some important poems in my vernacular language for a closing reading. In many places i found that we both of us writing in the same way except his Political Poems. Since our Indian political situation is different from the landless crisis of Hebrew people. Their struggle in Literature also very important. I very much honour my contemporary Great Master.

  20. 5 out of 5

    metaphor

    Here where the laurel grows as magnificent trees, not as shrubs anymore, we heard our last tune for the very first time. Since then I listen to it alone. […] Not to see you ever again was manageable, as it turned out: look, we went on living. But not to see you the very next day was impossible, you see: we died.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jsavett1

    The Israeli Lorca! I've read some of Amichai's English poems and never quite been as impressed as the critics who dress him in laurels. But this Selected is absolutely fantastic. Though it's a translation, Amichai's Hebrew poems are magical and sweet and dark and surprising in all the ways I love. This is fabulous.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alexis Grant

    A personal favorite.

  23. 5 out of 5

    toni

    The translation of 'Autobiography, 1952' doesn't come out so well. The rest is fine.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ginny Page

    A pity.... I am in love with this poet right now. I'm always late to the party but this discovery is my favorite of 2010.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Uneven translations; alternating between beauty and overly sentimental, political.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bruno

    I love his simple yet beautifully thought prose. It transports you to a different world. I recommend the poem "The real hero"

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    his poetry speaks to the life caught in the midst of the conflict in palestine/israel. this one's for those of you who are searching for something human in the middle of war ...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Notess

    Most favorite poetry of all time for the last decade or so. Whenever I start doubting that poetry means anything to me or that I want to write it I come back to Amichai.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Searing. Perfect. True.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    this was not a very good translation. I love Amichai but not this translation.

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