Poems of introspection, by Yehuda Amichai

Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000) was the recipient of numerous awards, including the country's highest honor, the Israel Prize. Born in Germany, he emigrated to Palestine in 1936.

Amichai's poetry has been described as prayer, midrash, a sensitive dialogue about love, people, land and God. Then Speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg eulogized Amichai as "the secular Israeli Jew closest to God."

Amichai's work has been translated into thirty-seven languages including Chinese, Estonian and Albanian. The follow two poems are appropriate for this season of introspection.

A man in his life

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.

— — — — — — — — — — —

The waters cannot return in repentance

The waters cannot return in repentance
To where would they return?
To the faucet, the sources, the ground, the roots,
the cloud, the sea, into my mouth?
The waters cannot return in repentance,
every place is their seas/days of old, their waters of old,
every place a beginning and end, and a beginning.



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