The Selected Poetry Of Yehuda Amichai, Newly Revised and Expanded edition / Edition 1 available in Paperback
- Pub. Date:
- University of California Press
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."
About the Author
Chana Bloch's many books include, most recently, The Song of Songs: A New Translation and The Windows: New and Selected Poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch. She lives in Berkeley, California. Stephen Mitchell's numerous translations include The Book of Job, A Book of Psalms, and Genesis. He lives in Sonoma, California.
Read an Excerpt
To My Love, Combing Her Hair
To my love, combing her hair
without a mirror facing me,
a psalm: you've shampooed your hair, an entire
forest of pine trees is filled with yearning on your head.
Calmness inside and calmness outside
have hammered your face between them to a tranquil copper.
The pillow on your bed is your spare brain,
tucked under your neck for remembering and dreaming.
the earth is trembling beneath us, love.
Let's lie fastened together, a double safety-lock.
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 howl of orphans
that reaches up to the throne of god and
a circle with no end and no God.
When I Banged My Head on the Door
When I banged my head on the door, I screamed,
"My head, my head," and I screamed, "Door, door,"
and I didn't scream "Mama" and I didn't scream "God."
And I didn't prophesy a world at the End of Days
where there will be no more heads and doors.
When you stroked my head, I whispered,
"My head, my head," and I whispered, "Your hand, your hand,"
and I didn't whisper "Mama" or "God."
And I didn't have miraculous visions
of hands stroking heads in the heavens
as they split wide open.
Whatever I scream or say or whisper is only
to console myself: My head, my head.
Door, door. Your hand, your hand.
A Precise Woman
A precise woman with a short haircut brings order
to my thoughts and my dresser drawers,
moves feelings around like furniture
into a new arrangement.
A woman whose body is cinched at the waist and firmly divided
into upper and lower,
with weather-forecast eyes
of shatterproof glass.
Even her cries of passion follow a certain order,
one after the other:
tame dove, then wild dove,
then peacock, wounded peacock, peacock, peacock,
then wild dove, tame dove, dove dove
thrush, thrush, thrush.
A precise woman: on the bedroom carpet
her shoes always point away from the bed.
(My own shoes point toward it.)