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Yehuda Amichai

I Know A Man

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.


Translated by Chana Bloch

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Endless Poem

In a modern museum
In an old synagogue
In the synagogue
I
Within me
My heart
Within my heart
A museum
Within a museum
A synagogue
Within it
I
Within me
My heart
Within my heart
A museum

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My Father

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
out of his hat, he drew love from his small body,

and the rivers of his hands
overflowed with good deeds.

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Pity, We Were A Good Invention

They amputated
Your thighs from my waist.
For me they are always
Surgeons. All of them.

They dismantled us
One from another. For me they are engineers.
Pity, We were a good and loving

Invention: an airplane made of man and woman,
Wings and all:
We soared a bit from the earth,
We flew a bit.

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Great Serenity: Questions and Answers

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

People spoke in excited voices
Like in an airport
I left them
I opened an iron door that had written on it
“Emergency and I entered within.
Great serenity: Questions and answers

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The Little Park Planted

The little park planted in memory of a boy
who fell in the war begins
to resemble him
as he was twenty eight years ago.
Year by year they look more alike.
His old parents come almost daily
to sit on a bench
and look at him.

And every night the memory in the garden
hums like a little motor.
During the day you can't hear it.

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Ein Yahav

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,
there I saw hope barbed as barbed wire.
And I said to myself: That's true, hope needs to be
like barbed wire to keep out despair,
hope must be a mine field.

Translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld

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A Pity. We Were Such a Good Invention

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

They dismantled us
Each from the other.
As far as I'm concerned
They are all engineers. All of them.

A pity. We were such a good
And loving invention.
An aeroplane made from a man and wife.
Wings and everything.
We hovered a little above the earth.

We even flew a little.

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Once A Great Love

Once a great love cut my life in two.
The first part goes on twisting
at some other place like a snake cut in two.

The passing years have calmed me
and brought healing to my heart and rest to my eyes.

And I'm like someone standing in the Judean desert, looking at a sign:
'Sea Level'
He cannot see the sea, but he knows.

Thus I remember your face everywhere
at your 'face Level.'

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The First Rain

The first rain reminds me
Of the rising summer dust.
The rain doesn't remember the rain of yesteryear.
A year is a trained beast with no memories.
Soon you will again wear your harnesses,
Beautiful and embroidered, to hold
Sheer stockings: you
Mare and harnesser in one body.

The white panic of soft flesh
In the panic of a sudden vision
Of ancient saints.


Translated from the Hebrew by Barbara and Benjamin Harshav

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