Sunday, March 22, 2009

Two Poems by Yehuda Amichai

Translated by Chana Bloch

Once I sat on the steps by agate at David's Tower,I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of touristswas standing around their guide and I became their target marker. "You seethat man with the baskets? Just right of his head there's an archfrom the Roman period. Just right of his head." "But he's moving, he's moving!"I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them,"You see that arch from the Roman period? It's not important: but next to it,left and down a bit, there sits a man who's bought fruit and vegetables for his family."

An Arab Shepherd is Searching for his Goat on Mount Zion
An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on Mount Zion
and on the opposite mountain I am searching for my little boy.
An Arab shepherd and a Jewish father
both in their temporary failure.
Our voices meet above
the Sultan's Pool in the valley between us.
Neither of us wants the child or the goat
to get caught in the wheels
of the terrible Had Gadya* machine.
Afterward we found them among the bushes
and our voices came back inside us,
laughing and crying.
Searching for a goat or a son has always been
the beginning of a new religion in these mountains.

* Lit. "Only one kid." A song chanted at the close of the Passover seder service, seen by some commentators as an allegory for the Jewish people.

[NOTE: These were posted on Jul 3, 2008.]

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