1924 - 2000/Israeli Yehuda Amichai was an Israeli poet.
Amichai was born in Germany, then immigrated with his family to Palestine in 1936. He fought in the Israeli War of Independence as a young man, but became an advocate of peace and reconciliation in the region, workin
Visits of condolence is all we get from them. They squat at the Holocaust Memorial, They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall And they laugh behind heavy curtains In their hotels. They have their pictures taken Together with our famous dead At Rachel's Tomb and Herzl's Tomb And on Ammunition Hill. They weep over our sweet boys And lust after our tough girls And hang up their underwear To dry quickly In cool, blue bathrooms.
Once I sat on the steps by agate at David's Tower, I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists was standing around their guide and I became their target marker. "You see that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there's an arch from the Roman period. Just right of his head." "But he's moving, he's moving!" I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them, "You see that arch from the Roman period? It's not important: but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who's bought fruit and vegetables for his family."
Before the gate has been closed, before the last question is posed, before I am transposed. Before the weeds fill the gardens, before there are no pardons, before the concrete hardens. Before all the flute-holes are covered, before things are locked in then cupboard, before the rules are discovered. Before the conclusion is planned, before God closes his hand, before we have nowhere to stand.
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.
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.
"What kind of a person are you," I heard them say to me. I'm a person with a complex plumbing of the soul, Sophisticated instruments of feeling and a system Of controlled memory at the end of the twentieth century, But with an old body from ancient times And with a God even older than my body. I'm a person for the surface of the earth. Low places, caves and wells Frighten me. Mountain peaks And tall buildings scare me. I'm not like an inserted fork, Not a cutting knife, not a stuck spoon.
I'm not flat and sly Like a spatula creeping up from below. At most I am a heavy and clumsy pestle Mashing good and bad together For a little taste And a little fragrance.
Arrows do not direct me. I conduct My business carefully and quietly Like a long will that began to be written The moment I was born.
s Now I stand at the side of the street Weary, leaning on a parking meter. I can stand here for nothing, free.
I'm not a car, I'm a person, A man-god, a god-man Whose days are numbered. Hallelujah.
The end was quick and bitter. Slow and sweet was the time between us, slow and sweet were the nights when my hands did not touch one another in despair but in the love of your body which came between them.
And when I entered into you it seemed then that great happiness could be measured with precision of sharp pain. Quick and bitter.
Slow and sweet were the nights. Now is bitter and grinding as sand— "Let's be sensible" and similar curses.
And as we stray further from love we multiply the words, words and sentences so long and orderly. Had we remained together we could have become a silence.
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. Like slits in a tank, their eyes were uncanny, I'm always the few and they are the many. I must answer. They can interrogate My head. But I want to die in My own bed.
The sun stood still in Gibeon. Forever so, it's willing to illuminate those waging battle and killing. I may not see My wife when her blood is shed, But I want to die in My own bed.
Samson, his strength in his long black hair, My hair they sheared when they made me a hero Perforce, and taught me to charge ahead. I want to die in My own bed.
I saw you could live and furnish with grace Even a lion's den, if you've no other place. I don't even mind to die alone, to be dead, But I want to die in My own bed.