Modern Hebrew Poetry: Y. Amichai

אִם אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם
יִשָּׁכַח דָּמִי
אֶגַּע בְּמִצְחֵךְ, אֶשְׁכַּח אֶת שֶׁלִּי
יִתְחַלֵּף קוֹלִי
בַּפַּעַם הַשְּׁנִיָּה וְהָאַחֲרוֹנָה
לְקוֹל נוֹרָא םִן הַקּוֹלוֹת
אוֹ לְאֵלֶם

If I forget thee, Jerusalem,
Let my blood be forgotten.
I shall touch your forehead,
Forget my own,
My voice change
For the second and last time
To the most terrible of voices —
Or silence

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3 Responses to Modern Hebrew Poetry: Y. Amichai

  1. The poem is by Yehuda Amichai and the translation by Assia Gutmann. From Y. Amichai, Poems of Jerusalem: A Bilingual Edition, New York, Harper & Row, 1988.

  2. han says:

    it seems to me the poem is influenced by psalm 137, specifically, verse two onwards. At the level of sentiment, the poet shares the same intensity of sentiment as with the psalmist. thus far could i say.

  3. Definitely so, Han. Amichai’s poetry is replete with Biblical language.

    One thing that many people don’t know is that contemporary Hebrew poetry is composed with Biblical Hebrew syntax as a marker for the genre, generally. This would be something like writing most or all contemporary English poetry in the language of Shakespeare or the King James Bible. The references to the language and Biblical context are typically very obvious.

    Thank you for your comment.

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