The Early Books of Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai, Author, Assia Gutmann, Translator, Harold Schimmel, Translator Sheep Meadow Press $14.95 (148p) ISBN 978-0-935296-75-4
This English translation of the popular Israeli poet's early work serves as a fine introduction to his oeuvre. Amichai's first volumes, published in the 1950s, influenced a generation of poetsparticularly in the contrasts that he created between the modern Hebrew of daily speech and the classical Hebrew of the holy texts: ``To speak, now, in this tired language / torn from its sleep in the Bible / blinded, it lurches from mouth to mouth / the language which described God and the Miracles, / says: / motor car, bomb, God.'' Amichai keenly evinces the poet's function as observer and social critic: ``Out of three or four in a room / one is always standing at the window. / Forced to see the injustice among the thorns, / the fires on the hill.'' The life of the poet's father and the bitter experiences of war are coupled in a chronicling of the ironies of the Israeli experience. ``My Father Fought Their War for Four Years'' addresses the fact that although Israel was envisioned as a haven for the Jews, its people are often embattled. And in the long cycle of love verses, ``Achziv Poems,'' Amichai characteristically weds the sacred and the sexual. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
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