Yehuda Amichai is probably the most widely translated Hebrew poet since King David. He says, “I grew up in a very religious household… So the prayers, the language of prayer itself became a kind of natural language for me.” But Amichai revised the national, Biblical narrative into a personal love story, making space for individual agency and narrative freedom.

Born Ludwig Pfueffer in Wurzburg, Germany, Amichai immigrated to Israel with his family in 1935, aged 11. He fought in the 1956 Sinai War and in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, between and after which he began to publish novels and poetry, under the name Yehuda Amichai, which means “my people lives.”

His poetic series Jerusalem 1967 shows the marks these wars left on him and on the country. Host Marcela Sulak recites the poem ‘Wildpeace,’ translated by Amichai along with British poet Ted Hughes, whose last stanza reads: “Let it come / like wildflowers, / suddenly, because the field / must have it: wildpeace.”

 

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Text:

Yehuda Amichai: Poems of Jerusalem and Love Poems, trans. various (Sheep Meadow Press).

The Early Books of Yehuda Amichai, trans. various (Sheep Meadow Press).

Open Closed Poem, by Yehuda Amichai, trans. Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld (Harcourt, Inc.).

 

Music:

Chava Alberstein – Saturday Night Song (Come to me tonight)

Matti Caspi and Shlomo Gronich – God Has Pity On Kindergarten Children

Yehudit Raviz – Our Love

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