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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai; Edited by Robert Alter

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


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 words went with me

like a sandwich wrapped in rustling waxpaper,

and I didn’t know when my father would come back

because there was another forest beyond the clearing.

Everything stretched out a hand,

a bull gored the sun with its horns,

and in the nights the light of the streets caressed

my cheeks along with the walls,

and the moon, like a large pitcher, leaned over

and watered my thirsty sleep.


My Mother Baked the Whole World for Me

My mother baked the whole world for me

In sweet cakes.

My beloved filled my window

With raisins of stars.

And my yearnings closed inside me

Like bubbles in a loaf of bread.

On the outside, I am smooth and quiet and brown.

The world loves me.

But my hair is sad as reeds in a drying swamp—

All the rare birds with beautiful plumage

Flee from me.


Copyright © 2015 by Hana Amichai

Introduction and selection copyright © 2015 by Robert Alter