Yehuda Amichai: A Life of Poetry 1948-1994 offers a comprehensive and timely evaluation of the body of work of one of our most valuable poets in any language. Employing the style and idiom of a post-Modernism–of a twentieth-century artist–and filtering it through the prism of his Israeli and Jewish sensibilities, Amichais words ifs cosmopolitan, muscular, and ironic. Resounding with the exhilarating of the human encounters–it is brought into the sharper contrast by the ever-present precariousness of Israeli existence. The burden and legacy of this history, and its impact upon modern, secular society, places Amichais work within a uniquely Israeli landscape–arid, verdant, cruel, and beautiful–while simultaneously transcending national and religious borders. Translated from the Hebrew by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav, this volume brings Amichai to his rightful place beside the leading poets of the twentieth century.
When Israeli poet Amichai (Poems of Jerusalem) began writing poems as a young man in 1948 in his newly forged country, “the twentieth century was the blood in my veins,/ Blood that wanted to go to many wars.” Crafted of blood and war, his early poems also addressed his first beloved and his father’s death, offering the exquisite pains of a man and a nation coming into being. These early themes reverberate, too, in Amichai’s poems of later decades. Readers might suppose that he would weave Israeli politics like an enduring strand throughout his poems, but if so, they would underestimate the dynamic tension between the poet’s initial admiration for Israel and his later disenchantment with any simple or facile viewpoint. Beautifully translated here, Amichai’s poetic style is elegant, spacious and perfectly accessible. His metaphors range from liturgical to secular, as when the writer ironically considers war and love together: “I’m like a machine gun, somewhat old-fashioned/ But very precise: when I love,/ The recoil is very strong.” This comprehensive record of a sensibility is an enormously satisfying introduction to an important 20th-century poet.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In stark, beautiful language, Amichai shares with us a worldview sustained by verbal power, irony, and resonance. His ability to balance the arid with the fertile has made him Israel’s most prominent poet, and another part of his gift is his capability for the eloquent analogical comment on larger issues, such as war, by means of striking minor images: “On a threshold of stone, whose house is destroyed, / A watermelon was slaughtered, cracked / And a light face rises / From the heavy tear slowly descending.” He often takes on the burden of history, but the load rarely strains his work or makes him appear omnipotently beyond the reaches of human skirmishes. With full awareness, he descends into the maelstrom of conflict and brings back eroticism, contemplation, and exhilaration. Consisting of authoritative retranslations as well as work newly rendered into English, this comprehensive collection should delight longtime admirers and encourage a new generation to discover his mastery. One quibble: the book lacks an introduction illuminating Amichai’s own experiences, which are only vaguely referred to in his work. Elizabeth Gunderson –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.