Friday, December 07, 2018

Poetry Friday: Yehuda Amichai

A few weeks ago, I found a poem I loved on the blog The Beauty We Love. The poem is called "Doubts and Loves," and it was written by the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai. (I'm not sure when I first encountered this blog, but I've been following it for a while. The poems there are almost always unfamiliar to me, and often have a spiritual dimension. In addition, they are illustrated with beautiful photos. I've encountered many treasures there.)

I'm going to share the first one I read, and then two others I discovered while exploring his work further on the Poetry Foundation site. I've spelled his name two different ways in this post, because the two sites spelled it differently. I'm assuming the discrepancy comes from the fact that it's a transliteration from Hebrew.

"Doubts and Loves" is, in my experience, very true. New growth doesn't come from "the place where we are right," but from "doubts and loves" that "dig up the world like a mole." That's why we are changed to our core by the people we love: our spouses, our friends, our children. They disrupt our lives and open us up to possibility.

Doubts and Loves
by Yehudi Amichai
translated by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell

From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.

The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.

But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.

And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.

You can see the photo chosen to go with this poem here

Poem Without an End
by Yehuda Amichai
translated by Chana Bloch

Inside the brand-new museum
there's an old synagogue.
Inside the synagogue
is me.
Inside me
my heart.
Inside my heart
a museum.

Here's the rest.

Problem in a Math Book
by Yehuda Amichai
translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld

I remember a problem in a math book
about a train that leaves from place A and another train
that leaves from place B. When will they meet?
And no one ever asks what happens when they meet:
will they stop or pass each other by, or maybe collide?
And none of the problems was about a man who leaves from place A
and a woman who leaves from place B. When will they meet,
will they even meet at all, and for how long?

Here's the rest.

Elizabeth Steinglass has the roundup today.


tanita✿davis said...

Thank you both for the new-to-me poet, but also one of the translators, Chana Bloch, was one of the professors at my grad school (as was Stephen Mitchell, I believe). She passed away last year, so this is especially poignant.

Tabatha said...

"The place where we are right/Is hard and trampled/Like a yard." -- I think I have felt this sometimes without knowing the words to express it.
Also, I love the ending of "Problem in a Math Book."
Thanks for sharing these!

Liz Steinglass said...

But doubts and loves dig up the world like a mole. Wow. the combination of abstract and concrete is powerful.

Linda B said...

I thought as I grew older I would have all the answers, get to peek at the back of that book, but no, it isn't always the case, is it? Love the interactions of the voices questioning in these, Ruth. Thank you for this new poet and for that blog you mentioned.

Linda Mitchell said...

Ruth, these are beautiful poems. Thank you to the reference to the blog as well. I'm with the other comments. Wow!

Michelle Kogan said...

Thanks for these deep, and questioning poems of life–so many layers here, and I like the circularity of them also. Thanks too for the links. The photo image is gorgeous.