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Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000) was Israel's most popular poet, as well as a literary figure of international reputation. In this collection, renowned translators Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell have selected Amichai's most beloved poems, including forty poems from his later work. A new foreword by C.K. Williams, written especially for this edition, addresses Amichai's enduring legacy and sets his poetry in the context of the new millennium.
In poems marked by tenderness and mischief, humanity and humor, Yehuda Amichai breaks open the grand diction of revered Jewish verses and casts the light of his own experi­ence upon them. Here he tells of history, a nation, the self, love, and resurrection. Amichai’s last volume is one of medi­tation and hope, and stands as a testament to one of Israel’s greatest poets. Open closed open. Before we are born, everything is open in the universe without us. For as long as we live, everything is closed within us. And when we die, everything is open again. Open closed open. That’s all we are. —from “I WASN’T ONE OF THE SIX MILLION: AND WHAT IS MY LIFE SPAN? OPEN CLOSED OPEN”
"The poems glow with pleasure in themselves. One can hear a kind of laughter resonating, as if having surpassed the moment and its trial, having presented suffering yet having set distance from it through the medium of his art. Though Dan Pagis has died too soon, may we learn from him to live."—David Ignatow
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, Amichai's 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 Amichai's 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.
The best of contemporary Israeli poetry is presented here in exciting new English translations. Poets included in the anthology are Amir Gilboa, Abba Kovner, Haim Gouri, Yehuda Amichai, Dan Pagis, Natan Zach, David Avidan, Dahlia Ravikovitch, Ory Bernstein, Meir Wieseltier, and Yona Wallach.
The largest English-language collection to date from Israel’s finest poet Few poets have demonstrated as persuasively as Yehuda Amichai why poetry matters. One of the major poets of the twentieth century, Amichai created remarkably accessible poems, vivid in their evocation of the Israeli landscape and historical predicament, yet universally resonant. His are some of the most moving love poems written in any language in the past two generations—some exuberant, some powerfully erotic, many suffused with sadness over separation that casts its shadow on love. In a country torn by armed conflict, these poems poignantly assert the preciousness of private experience, cherished under the repeated threats of violence and death. Amichai’s poetry has attracted a variety of gifted English translators on both sides of the Atlantic from the 1960s to the present. Assembled by the award-winning Hebrew scholar and translator Robert Alter, The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai is by far the largest selection of the master poet’s work to appear in English, gathering the best of the existing translations as well as offering English versions of many previously untranslated poems. With this collection, Amichai’s vital poetic voice is now available to English readers as it never has been before.

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