Three Poems 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
stationscat,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?

(Translator unknown)

 

Wildpeace

Not the peace of a cease-fire
not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb,
but rather
as in the heart when the excitement is over
and you can talk only about a great weariness.
I know that I know how to kill, that makes me an adult.
And my son plays with a toy gun that knows
how to open and close its eyes and say Mama.
A peace
without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares,
without words, without
the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be
light, floating, like lazy white foam.
A little rest for the wounds – who speaks of healing?
(And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation
to the next, as in a relay race:
the baton never falls.)

Let it come
like wildflowers,
suddenly, because the field
must have it: wildpeace.

(Translated by Chana Bloch)

 

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.

(Translated by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav)

( Yehuda Amichai, 1924-2000)

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