Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai

The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai; Edited by Robert Alter

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai READ AN EXCERPT →

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The largest English-language collection to date from Israel’s finest poet

Few poets have demonstrated as persuasively as Yehuda Amichai why poetry matters. One of the major poets of the twentieth century, Amichai created remarkably accessible poems, vivid in their evocation of the Israeli landscape and historical predicament, yet universally resonant. His are some of the most moving love poems written in any language in the past two generations—some exuberant, some powerfully erotic, many suffused with sadness over separation that casts its shadow on love. In a country torn by armed conflict, these poems poignantly assert the preciousness of private experience, cherished under the repeated threats of violence and death.

Amichai’s poetry has attracted a variety of gifted English translators on both sides of the Atlantic from the 1960s to the present. Assembled by the award-winning Hebrew scholar and translator Robert Alter, The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai is by far the largest selection of the master poet’s work to appear in English, gathering the best of the existing translations as well as offering English versions of many previously untranslated poems. With this collection, Amichai’s vital poetic voice is now available to English readers as it never has been before.

EXCERPT

When I Was a Child



When I was a child

grasses and masts stood at the seashore,

and as I lay there

I thought they were all the same

because all of them rose into the sky above me.

Only my mother’s...

Reviews

Praise for The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai

"Even when [Amichai's] language is at its most elevated and prophetic, humility and an ardent humanity are threaded through the whole of his output . . . Amichai is by turns defiant, playful, wise, weary and mournful—yet never cynical . . . The useful and beautiful poetry of Yehuda Amichai can make much happen: It might just make us more compassionate, and more humane, for having read it." —Rosie Schaap, New York Times Book Review

"Amichai is intensely likable. To read The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), an ample new selection edited by Robert Alter, is to leaf through the calendar of a sensibility: in this bright book of life, he writes about war and love, about his mother and father, about his children and his neighbors, about loving the Jews and despairing of the Jews, about shopping for groceries in Jerusalem and the politics of Jerusalem, about sex and about God . . . Genius . . . He belongs not only to Israel and to the Hebrew language but to all of us." —James Wood, The New Yorker

"[Amichai is] Israel's most acclaimed poet, and one of the most widely translated poets (from the Hebrew) in the world, Amichai claimed not to think of himself as a poet, and he was particularly resistant to the role of the poet as prophet . . . The work of deciding which poems to include in this book could not have been easy even for Alter, widely considered one of the foremost critics of Hebrew literature and himself an accomplished translator of Hebrew verse . . . Bookended by a brief but illuminating introduction and notes that contextualize allusions that might otherwise be lost on the English reader, the book is impressive in its scope while allowing for direct access to the poems." —Shoshana Olidort, The Chicago Tribune

“I've become more than ever convinced that Amichai is one of the biggest, most essential, most durable poetic voices of this past century--one of the most intimate, alive and human, wise, humorous, true, loving, inwardly free and resourceful, at home in every human situation. One of the real treasures.” —Ted Hughes on Yehuda Amichai

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Yehuda Amichai; Edited by Robert Alter

Yehuda Amichai (1924–2000) is considered to be Israel’s greatest contemporary poet. With his poems available in forty languages, he may be the most widely translated Hebrew poet since King David. Amichai’s work published in English includes Songs of Jerusalem and Myself, Time, The Great Tranquillity, Amen, Open Closed Open, and Even a Fist Was Once an Open Palm with Fingers.

Robert Alter’s scholarly works on subjects ranging from the eighteenth-century novel to contemporary Hebrew and American literature earned him the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement from the Los Angeles Times. Alter is the Class of 1937 Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai

Robert Alter

Read Yehuda Amichai's interview in the Paris Review

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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