...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

April 27, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Amichai

The Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai (1924 - 2000) is the most widely translated Hebrew poet since King David. He was born in Würzburg, Germany and emigrated to Jerusalem in the thirties. He enlisted in the British Army and later fought as a commando in the Negev Desert during the 1948 War of Independence.

New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier described Amichai's work this way: "Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Yehuda Amichai is his composure. From a life cluttered with ancient torments, with the collective memory of his people's pains and the personal recollection of his own, he calmly extracts the essences, and leaves the rest for laughter. These are elementary poems by an elementary man."

This one, i love:

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.

Posted by annika, Apr. 27, 2005 |
Rubric: Poetry



Posted by: Victor on Apr. 27, 2005


You never cease to amaze. Where do you find the time to read all this stuff and select the best?

When I was in law school, all I had time to do was study and chase girls. Maybe that takes more time than being chased.

Having you given up sports? Or TV?

Keep on truckin'...

Posted by: shelly on Apr. 27, 2005

Love Amichai, a great choice. I'll have to consider him for a future Thursday short poem...

I love the conceit of the "body forever amateur". Ain't that the truth.

Posted by: Hugo Schwyzer on Apr. 27, 2005

OFFTOPIC: I was digging through the Instapundit's archives, and I find this interesting excerpt from Feb. 12:

[STILL MORE: Or, people could just try to blackmail me, as Robert McClelland urges in the comments over at Oliver Willis's. Yeah, that'll solve the problem. Jeez. Perhaps they should start here . . . .

McClelland's obviously one of Karl Rove's provocateurs, implementing his demonically effective "blogpaper" strategy, in which lefty activism is drained off from constructive sources and into obsession with an obscure law professor's personal website. Apparently, it's working pretty well.

MORE: John Cole emails:

You missed the humor in the suggestion that you be blackmailed.

Robert McClelland is a Canadian, or at the very least a resident of Canada, who most recently described the United states as a 'third world hellhole.'

So, to summarize: An America hating Canadian is so incensed by a post in which you assert that some lefties seem to hate America that he travels to a left wing site to recommend the outright blackmail of an American to stifle political speech.

That ought to play well in the heartland. I officially declare irony to be dead.]

Your favorite troll gets around. Heh.

Posted by: reagan80 on Apr. 28, 2005

That was one stunning poem.

Posted by: Mark on Apr. 29, 2005

You know, I've tackled a different topic in much the same way as Amichai. It deals with the complexities and paradoxes which are attendant to accidents in rush hour traffic which are off on the shoulder yet people still drive slow for some g*ddamned reason.

...also that line of Amichai's about fig trees reminded of Nick Drake's "Fame is but a fruit tree" song.

Posted by: Scof on Apr. 29, 2005

.. thanks, Annika.. that was incredible...

Posted by: Eric on May. 1, 2005

annie, that was awesome. i don't know how you do it. just what i needed today!!

Posted by: candy girl on May. 1, 2005