The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai NPR coverage of The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai by Yehuda Amichai, Chana Bloch, Stephen Mitchell, Chana Bloch, and Stephen Mitchell. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
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The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai

by Yehuda Amichai, Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell

Paperback, 195 pages, Univ of California Pr, List Price: $21.95 |


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Excerpt: The Selected Poetry Of Yehuda Amichai

Chapter One

To My Love, Combing Her Hair

To my love, combing her hair
without a mirror facing me,

a psalm: you've shampooed your hair, an entire
forest of pine trees is filled with yearning on your head.

Calmness inside and calmness outside
have hammered your face between them to a tranquil copper.

The pillow on your bed is your spare brain,
tucked under your neck for remembering and dreaming.

the earth is trembling beneath us, love.
Let's lie fastened together, a double safety-lock.

The Diameter of the Bomb

The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
with four dead and eleven wounded.
And around these, in a larger circle
of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
and one graveyard. But the young woman
who was buried in the city she came from,
at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
enlarges the circle considerably,
and the solitary man mourning her death
at the distant shores of a country far across the sea
includes the entire world in the circle.
And I won't even mention the howl of orphans
that reaches up to the throne of god and
beyond, making
a circle with no end and no God.

When I Banged My Head on the Door

When I banged my head on the door, I screamed,
"My head, my head," and I screamed, "Door, door,"
and I didn't scream "Mama" and I didn't scream "God."
And I didn't prophesy a world at the End of Days
where there will be no more heads and doors.

When you stroked my head, I whispered,
"My head, my head," and I whispered, "Your hand, your hand,"
and I didn't whisper "Mama" or "God."
And I didn't have miraculous visions
of hands stroking heads in the heavens
as they split wide open.

Whatever I scream or say or whisper is only
to console myself: My head, my head.
Door, door. Your hand, your hand.

A Precise Woman

A precise woman with a short haircut brings order
to my thoughts and my dresser drawers,
moves feelings around like furniture
into a new arrangement.
A woman whose body is cinched at the waist and firmly divided
into upper and lower,
with weather-forecast eyes
of shatterproof glass.
Even her cries of passion follow a certain order,
one after the other:
tame dove, then wild dove,
then peacock, wounded peacock, peacock, peacock,
then wild dove, tame dove, dove dove
thrush, thrush, thrush.

A precise woman: on the bedroom carpet
her shoes always point away from the bed.
(My own shoes point toward it.)

Copyright © 1996 Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell.All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0-520-20538-3