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Best Famous Yehuda Amichai Poems

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by Yehuda Amichai | |

My Child Wafts Peace

 My child wafts peace.
When I lean over him, It is not just the smell of soap.
All the people were children wafting peace.
(And in the whole land, not even one Millstone remained that still turned).
Oh, the land torn like clothes That can't be mended.
Hard, lonely fathers even in the cave of the Makhpela* Childless silence.
My child wafts peace.
His mother's womb promised him What God cannot Promise us.
* The traditional burial place in Hebron of Abraham and the other Patriarchs and Matriarchs of Israel.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

I Have Become Very Hairy

 I have become very hairy all over my body.
I'm afraid they'll start hunting me because of my fur.
My multicolored shirt has no meaning of love -- it looks like an air photo of a railway station.
At night my body is open and awake under the blanket, like eyes under the blindfold of someone to be shot.
Restless I shall wander about; hungry for life I'll die.
Yet I wanted to be calm, like a mound with all its cities destroyed, and tranquil, like a full cemetery.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

And We Shall Not Get Excited

 And we shall not get excited.
Because a translator May not get excited.
Calmly, we shall pass on Words from man to son, from one tongue To others' lips, un- Knowingly, like a father who passes on The features of his dead father's face To his son, and he himself is like neither of them.
Merely a mediator.
We shall remember the things we held in our hands That slipped out.
What I have in my possesion and what I do not have in my possession.
We must not get excited.
Calls and their callers drowned.
Or, my beloved Gave me a few words before she left, To bring up for her.
And no more shall we tell what we were told To other tellers.
Silence as admission.
We must not Get excited.


More great poems below...

by Yehuda Amichai | |

A Man In His Life

 A man doesn't have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn't have seasons enough to have a season for every purpose.
Ecclesiastes Was wrong about that.
A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment, to laugh and cry with the same eyes, with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them, to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget, to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest what history takes years and years to do.
A man doesn't have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves he begins to forget.
And his soul is seasoned, his soul is very professional.
Only his body remains forever an amateur.
It tries and it misses, gets muddled, doesn't learn a thing, drunk and blind in its pleasures and its pains.
He will die as figs die in autumn, Shriveled and full of himself and sweet, the leaves growing dry on the ground, the bare branches pointing to the place where there's time for everything.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

You Mustnt 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.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Of Three Or Four In The Room

 Out of three or four in the room
One is always standing at the window.
Forced to see the injustice amongst the thorns, The fires on the hills.
And people who left whole Are brought home in the evening, like small change.
Out of three or four in the room One is always standing at the window.
Hair dark above his thoughts.
Behind him, the words, wandering, without luggage, Hearts without provision, prophecies without water Big stones put there Standing, closed like letters With no addresses; and no one to receive them.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Do Not Accept

 Do not accept these rains that come too late.
Better to linger.
Make your pain An image of the desert.
Say it's said And do not look to the west.
Refuse To surrender.
Try this year too To live alone in the long summer, Eat your drying bread, refrain From tears.
And do not learn from Experience.
Take as an example my youth, My return late at night, what has been written In the rain of yesteryear.
It makes no difference Now.
See your events as my events.
Everything will be as before: Abraham will again Be Abram.
Sarah will be Sarai.
trans.
Benjamin & Barbara Harshav


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Try To Remember Some Details

 Try to remember some details.
Remember the clothing of the one you love so that on the day of loss you'll be able to say: last seen wearing such-and-such, brown jacket, white hat.
Try to remember some details.
For they have no face and their soul is hidden and their crying is the same as their laughter, and their silence and their shouting rise to one height and their body temperature is between 98 and 104 degrees and they have no life outside this narrow space and they have no graven image, no likeness, no memory and they have paper cups on the day of their rejoicing and paper cups that are used once only.
Try to remember some details.
For the world is filled with people who were torn from their sleep with no one to mend the tear, and unlike wild beasts they live each in his lonely hiding place and they die together on battlefields and in hospitals.
And the earth will swallow all of them, good and evil together, like the followers of Korah, all of them in thir rebellion against death, their mouths open till the last moment, praising and cursing in a single howl.
Try, try to remember some details.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Half The People In The World

 Half the people in the world love the other half, 
 half the people hate the other half.
Must I because of this half and that half go wandering and changing ceaselessly like rain in its cycle, must I sleep among rocks, and grow rugged like the trunks of olive trees, and hear the moon barking at me, and camouflage my love with worries, and sprout like frightened grass between the railroad tracks, and live underground like a mole, and remain with roots and not with branches, and not feel my cheek against the cheek of angels, and love in the first cave, and marry my wife beneath a canopy of beams that support the earth, and act out my death, always till the last breath and the last words and without ever understandig, and put flagpoles on top of my house and a bob shelter underneath.
And go out on rads made only for returning and go through all the apalling stations—cat,stick,fire,water,butcher, between the kid and the angel of death? Half the people love, half the people hate.
And where is my place between such well-matched halves, and through what crack will I see the white housing projects of my dreams and the bare foot runners on the sands or, at least, the waving of a girl's kerchief, beside the mound?


by Yehuda Amichai | |

A Jewish Cemetery In Germany

 On a little hill amid fertile fields lies a small cemetery,
a Jewish cemetery behind a rusty gate, hidden by shrubs,
abandoned and forgotten.
Neither the sound of prayer nor the voice of lamentation is heard there for the dead praise not the Lord.
Only the voices of our children ring out, seeking graves and cheering each time they find one--like mushrooms in the forest, like wild strawberries.
Here's another grave! There's the name of my mother's mothers, and a name from the last century.
And here's a name, and there! And as I was about to brush the moss from the name-- Look! an open hand engraved on the tombstone, the grave of a kohen, his fingers splayed in a spasm of holiness and blessing, and here's a grave concealed by a thicket of berries that has to be brushed aside like a shock of hair from the face of a beautiful beloved woman.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Memorial Day For The War Dead

 Memorial day for the war dead.
Add now the grief of all your losses to their grief, even of a woman that has left you.
Mix sorrow with sorrow, like time-saving history, which stacks holiday and sacrifice and mourning on one day for easy, convenient memory.
Oh, sweet world soaked, like bread, in sweet milk for the terrible toothless God.
"Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.
" No use to weep inside and to scream outside.
Behind all this perhaps some great happiness is hiding.
Memorial day.
Bitter salt is dressed up as a little girl with flowers.
The streets are cordoned off with ropes, for the marching together of the living and the dead.
Children with a grief not their own march slowly, like stepping over broken glass.
The flautist's mouth will stay like that for many days.
A dead soldier swims above little heads with the swimming movements of the dead, with the ancient error the dead have about the place of the living water.
A flag loses contact with reality and flies off.
A shopwindow is decorated with dresses of beautiful women, in blue and white.
And everything in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic, and Death.
A great and royal animal is dying all through the night under the jasmine tree with a constant stare at the world.
A man whose son died in the war walks in the street like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb.
"Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.
"


by Yehuda Amichai | |

If I Forget Thee Jerusalem

 If I forget thee, Jerusalem,
Then let my right be forgotten.
Let my right be forgotten, and my left remember.
Let my left remember, and your right close And your mouth open near the gate.
I shall remember Jerusalem And forget the forest -- my love will remember, Will open her hair, will close my window, will forget my right, Will forget my left.
If the west wind does not come I'll never forgive the walls, Or the sea, or myself.
Should my right forget My left shall forgive, I shall forget all water, I shall forget my mother.
If I forget thee, Jerusalem, Let my blood be forgotten.
I shall touch your forehead, Forget my own, My voice change For the second and last time To the most terrible of voices -- Or silence.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Jerusalem

 On a roof in the Old City
Laundry hanging in the late afternoon sunlight:
The white sheet of a woman who is my enemy,
The towel of a man who is my enemy,
To wipe off the sweat of his brow.
In the sky of the Old City A kite.
At the other end of the string, A child I can't see Because of the wall.
We have put up many flags, They have put up many flags.
To make us think that they're happy.
To make them think that we're happy.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

God Full Of Mercy

 God-Full-of-Mercy, the prayer for the dead.
If God was not full of mercy, Mercy would have been in the world, Not just in Him.
I, who plucked flowers in the hills And looked down into all the valleys, I, who brought corpses down from the hills, Can tell you that the world is empty of mercy.
I, who was King of Salt at the seashore, Who stood without a decision at my window, Who counted the steps of angels, Whose heart lifted weights of anguish In the horrible contests.
I, who use only a small part Of the words in the dictionary.
I, who must decipher riddles I don't want to decipher, Know that if not for the God-full-of-mercy There would be mercy in the world, Not just in Him.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

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 hill I am searching for my little boy.
An Arab shepherd and a Jewish father Both in their temporary failure.
Our two voices met above The Sultan's Pool in the valley between us.
Neither of us wants the boy or the goat To get caught in the wheels Of the "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 for a child has always been The beginning of a new religion in these mountains.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Ein Yahav

 A night drive to Ein Yahav in the Arava Desert,
a drive in the rain.
Yes, in the rain.
There I met people who grow date palms, there I saw tamarisk trees and risk trees, there I saw hope barbed as barbed wire.
And I said to myself: That's true, hope needs to be like barbed wire to keep out despair, hope must be a mine field.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

On Rabbi Kooks Street

 On Rabbi Kook's Street 
I walk without this good man-- 
A streiml he wore for prayer 
A silk top hat he wore to govern, 
fly in the wind of the dead 
above me, float on the water 
of my dreams.
I come to the Street of Prophets--there are none.
And the Street of Ethiopians--there are a few.
I'm looking for a place for you to live after me padding your solitary nest for you, setting up the place of my pain with the sweat of my brow examining the road on which you'll return and the window of your room, the gaping wound, between closed and opened, between light and dark.
There are smells of baking from inside the shanty, there's a shop where they distribute Bibles free, free, free.
More than one prophet has left this tangle of lanes while everything topples above him and he becomes someone else.
On Rabbi Kook's street I walk --your bed on my back like a cross-- though it's hard to believe a woman's bed will become the symbol of a new religion.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Near The Wall Of A House

 Near the wall of a house painted
to look like stone,
I saw visions of God.
A sleepless night that gives others a headache gave me flowers opening beautifully inside my brain.
And he who was lost like a dog will be found like a human being and brought back home again.
Love is not the last room: there are others after it, the whole length of the corridor that has no end.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Yad Mordechai

 Yad Mordechai.
Those who fell here still look out the windows like sick children who are not allowed outside to play.
And on the hillside, the battle is reenacted for the benefit of hikers and tourists.
Soldiers of thin sheet iron rise and fall and rise again.
Sheet iron dead and a sheet iron life and the voices all—sheet iron.
And the resurrection of the dead, sheet iron that clangs and clangs.
And I said to myself: Everyone is attached to his own lament as to a parachute.
Slowly he descends and slowly hovers until he touches the hard place.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Once A Great Love

 Once a great love cut my life in two.
The first part goes on twisting at some other place like a snake cut in two.
The passing years have calmed me and brought healing to my heart and rest to my eyes.
And I'm like someone standing in the Judean desert, looking at a sign: "Sea Level" He cannot see the sea, but he knows.
Thus I remember your face everywhere at your "face Level.
"


by Yehuda Amichai | |

I Dont Know If History Repeats Itself

 I don't Know if history repeats itself
But I do know that you don't.
I remember that city was didvided Not only between Jews and Arabs, But Between me and you, When we were there together.
We made ourselves a womb of dangers We built ourselves a house of deadening wars Like men of far north Who build themselves a safe warm house of deadening ice.
The city has been reunited But we haven't been there together.
By now I know That History doesn't repeat itself, As I always knew that you wouldn't.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

My Father

 The memory of my father is wrapped up in
white paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work.
Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits out of his hat, he drew love from his small body, and the rivers of his hands overflowed with good deeds.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Tourists

 Visits of condolence is all we get from them.
They squat at the Holocaust Memorial, They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall And they laugh behind heavy curtains In their hotels.
They have their pictures taken Together with our famous dead At Rachel's Tomb and Herzl's Tomb And on Ammunition Hill.
They weep over our sweet boys And lust after our tough girls And hang up their underwear To dry quickly In cool, blue bathrooms.
Once I sat on the steps by agate at David's Tower, I placed my two heavy baskets at my side.
A group of tourists was standing around their guide and I became their target marker.
"You see that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there's an arch from the Roman period.
Just right of his head.
" "But he's moving, he's moving!" I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them, "You see that arch from the Roman period? It's not important: but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who's bought fruit and vegetables for his family.
"


by Yehuda Amichai | |

God Has Pity On Kindergarten Children

 God has pity on kindergarten children,
He pities school children -- less.
But adults he pities not at all.
He abandons them, And sometimes they have to crawl on all fours In the scorching sand To reach the dressing station, Streaming with blood.
But perhaps He will have pity on those who love truly And take care of them And shade them Like a tree over the sleeper on the public bench.
Perhaps even we will spend on them Our last pennies of kindness Inherited from mother, So that their own happiness will protect us Now and on other days.


by Yehuda Amichai | |

Before

 Before the gate has been closed,
before the last quetion is posed,
before I am transposed.
Before the weeds fill the gardens, before there are no pardons, before the concrete hardens.
Before all the flute-holes are covered, beore things are locked in then cupboard, before the rules are discovered.
Before the conclusion is planned, before God closes his hand, before we have nowhere to stand.