Yehuda Amichai

(1924 - 2000 / Würzburg / Germany)

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.


Translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Karen Deeks (3/12/2012 2:03:00 PM)

    This is probably the poem which encourages the deepest thoughts and emotions that I have read to date.. Beautifully visual... Karen (Report) Reply

  • Rochelle Cashdan (5/18/2008 9:38:00 PM)

    I wish I could read, hear the sound of the original poem but am thankful for the translation. Amichai once again has something to say and, oh, how well he expresses it. (Report) Reply

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