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Best Famous Yehuda Amichai Poems

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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 |

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 |

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 |

Temporary Poem Of My Time

 Hebrew writing and Arabic writing go from east to west,
Latin writing, from west to east.
Languages are like cats:
You must not stroke their hair the wrong way.
The clouds come from the sea, the hot wind from the desert,
The trees bend in the wind,
And stones fly from all four winds,
Into all four winds. They throw stones,
Throw this land, one at the other,
But the land always falls back to the land.
They throw the land, want to get rid of it.
Its stones, its soil, but you can't get rid of it.
They throw stones, throw stones at me
In 1936, 1938, 1948, 1988,
Semites throw at Semites and anti-Semites at anti-Semites,
Evil men throw and just men throw,
Sinners throw and tempters throw,
Geologists throw and theologists throw,
Archaelogists throw and archhooligans throw,
Kidneys throw stones and gall bladders throw,
Head stones and forehead stones and the heart of a stone,
Stones shaped like a screaming mouth
And stones fitting your eyes
Like a pair of glasses,
The past throws stones at the future,
And all of them fall on the present.
Weeping stones and laughing gravel stones,
Even God in the Bible threw stones,
Even the Urim and Tumim were thrown
And got stuck in the beastplate of justice,
And Herod threw stones and what came out was a Temple.

Oh, the poem of stone sadness
Oh, the poem thrown on the stones
Oh, the poem of thrown stones.
Is there in this land
A stone that was never thrown
And never built and never overturned
And never uncovered and never discovered
And never screamed from a wall and never discarded by the builders
And never closed on top of a grave and never lay under lovers
And never turned into a cornerstone?

Please do not throw any more stones,
You are moving the land,
The holy, whole, open land,
You are moving it to the sea
And the sea doesn't want it
The sea says, not in me.

Please throw little stones,
Throw snail fossils, throw gravel,
Justice or injustice from the quarries of Migdal Tsedek,
Throw soft stones, throw sweet clods,
Throw limestone, throw clay,
Throw sand of the seashore,
Throw dust of the desert, throw rust,
Throw soil, throw wind,
Throw air, throw nothing
Until your hands are weary
And the war is weary
And even peace will be weary and will be.


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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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.


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.