Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai Poems

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.
...

They amputated
Your thighs off my hips.
As far as I'm concerned
They are all surgeons. All of them.
...

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.
...

God has pity on kindergarten children,
He pities school children -- less.
But adults he pities not at all.
...

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
...

In a modern museum
In an old synagogue
In the synagogue
I
...

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
...

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
...

I know a man
who photographed the view he saw
from the window of the room where he made love
and not the face of the woman he loved there.
...

There is a street where they sell only red meat
And there is a street where they sell only clothes and perfumes. And there
is a day when I see only cripples and the blind
And those covered with leprosy, and spastics and those with twisted lips.
...

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
...

All night the army came up from Gilgal
To get to the killing field, and that's all.
In the ground, warf and woof, lay the dead.
I want to die in My own bed.
...

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.
...

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 --
...

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-
...

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,
...

People in a hall that’s lit so brightly
It hurts
Spoke of religion
In the lives of contemporary people
...

My child wafts peace.
When I lean over him,
It is not just the smell of soap.
...

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,
...

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,
...

Yehuda Amichai Biography

Amichai was born in Würzburg, Germany, to an Orthodox Jewish family, and was raised speaking both Hebrew and German. According to literary scholar Nili Scharf Gold, a childhood trauma in Germany had an impact on his later poetry: he had an argument with a childhood friend of his, Ruth Hanover, that caused her to bicycle home angrily; she fell and as a result had to get her leg amputated. Several years later, she was unable to join the rest of her family, who fled the Nazi takeover, due to her missing leg, and ended up being killed in the Holocaust. Amichai occasionally referred to her in his poems as "Little Ruth". Amichai immigrated with his family at the age of 12 to Petah Tikva in Mandate Palestine in 1935, moving to Jerusalem in 1936. He first worked as a physical education teacher. He was a member of the Palmach, the strike force of the Haganah, the defence force of the Jewish community in pre-state Israel. As a young man he fought in World War II as a member of the British Army Jewish Brigade, and in the Negev on the southern front in the Israeli War of Independence. Amichai traced his beginnings as a writer to when he was stationed with the British army in Egypt. There he happened to find an anthology of modern British poetry, and the works of Dylan Thomas, T. S. Eliot, and W. H. Auden included in that book inspired his first serious thoughts about becoming a writer. Amichai began writing poetry in 1946, at age 22. He also changed his name to Yehuda Amichai around that same time. According to Nili Scharf Gold, the idea for the name change, as well as the specific last name "Amichai", came from his girlfriend at the time, whom he has called "Ruth Z.", and who soon afterward broke up with him and moved to the United States. According to Gold, Amichai later claimed that he only started writing poetry in 1948, partly as a way of hiding from the public record this portion of his life. Following the War of Independence, Amichai studied Bible and Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Encouraged by one of his professors at Hebrew University, he published his first book of poetry, "Now and in Other Days," in 1955. Later, he was poet in residence at numerous universities, including Berkeley, NYU, and Yale. In 1956, Amichai served in the Sinai War, and in 1973 he served in the Yom Kippur War. He later became an advocate of peace and reconciliation in the region, working with Arab writers. He died of cancer in 2000, at age 76.)

The Best Poem Of 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.

Yehuda Amichai Comments

Fabrizio Frosini 11 December 2015

''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. (Yehuda Amichai - translated by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell)

470 0 Reply
Doren Robbins 11 February 2005

Amichai speaks in the direct idom of emotion that descended from Whitman's rhythmic prose-poem style. When I read such poems as 'Inside the Apple, ' 'The Real Hero, ' or 'A Pity. We Were Such A Good Invention, ' I understand again that great lyrical poetry is capable of translating the deepest emotions into langauge that brings us to the ground of what living a human life means. That is, his best poems are really hymns to this life full of paradoxical disappointments and exhilarating passion fused with elegies to the duration of those experiences themselves that bring our strongest affirmations.

43 30 Reply
M Asim Nehal 21 February 2019

Indeed, Amichai speaks in the direct idom of emotion that descended from Whitman's rhythmic prose-poem style. When I read such poems as 'Inside the Apple, ' 'The Real Hero, ' or 'A Pity. We Were Such A Good Invention, ' I understand again that great lyrical poetry is capable of translating the deepest emotions into langauge that brings us to the ground of what living a human life means.

2 1 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 12 September 2022

HERE IS MY COMMENT on that poem A metaphored poem, sublimest thought-provoking poem, filled with deep philosophy, only the wise can create a poem like this

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Sylvia Frances Chan 12 September 2022

ABOUT THE POEM DO NOT ACCEPT my comment, since I cannot post it there below the poem

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vp 01 March 2021

looking for amichai poem' the world is a mess my friend

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Suveksha 20 February 2021

Hello, does anyone have the poem 'the diameter of the womb' by Yehuda amichai. I need the poem to analyse for a college paper, but can't find it anywhere online. Please help me, thanks in advance.

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Mark Steinriede 22 February 2020

" Sabbath lie" : might be his best, in my opinion. It speaks from the heart of a child to his father, each, telling what the other needs to hear.

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