Amen by Yehuda Amichai

By Yehuda Amichai

Translations from the Hebrew of the good Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai, with an creation through Ted Hughes.

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Example text

I've never seen foam at the mouth of a war horse, But when you lathered your body with soap I saw. You are beautiful, like prophecies That never come true. And this is the royal scar; I pass over it with my tongue And with pointed fingers over that sweet roughness. With hard shoes you knock Prison bars to and fro around me. Your wild rings Are the sacred leprosy of your fingers. Out of the earth emerge All I wished never to see again : Pillar and window sill, cornice and jug, broken pieces of wine.

We are to be found on picture postcards of our city. Perhaps we can't be seen because we were sitting in a house or too small; the picture was taken from a passing airplane. 18 The graves in Jerusalem are gates of deep tunnels on the day of their opening­ after which they stop digging. The tombstones are beautiful cornerstones of buildings that will never be built. 21 Jerusalem is a place where all remember that they have forgotten something but they don't remember what. And for the sake of this remembering I wear my father's face on mine.

To make no noise, to keep it clean, to behave very quietly at its side , to let it flow. 10 I sometimes think about my fathers and their forefathers from the destruction 29 of the temple onward through medieval tortures until me. I only remember as far back as my grandfather: He did not have any additional hands , or a special plug, or a spare navel, or any instruments to receive and pass on to me. He was a village Jew, God-fearing and heavy-eyed. An old man with a long pipe. My first memory is of my grandmother with trembling hands spilling a kettle of boiling water over my feet when I was two.

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