About Yehuda Amichai

Poet Yehuda Amichai was an Israeli poet. He was married twice and had two sons and one daughter. As a young man he volunteered and fought in World War II as a member of the British Army, and in the Negev on the southern front in the Israeli War of Independence. He died of cancer in 2000, at age 76. Many people, worldwide, regarded Amichai as Israel’s greatest modern poet. He was also one of the first to write in colloquial Hebrew.

Yehuda has stated he had no set topics about which he wrote; however, he often used one historical element, one picture, and one metaphor. A reporter for the Paris Review once asked, “What is the relationship between your politics and your poetry?” Part of Amichai’s answer was “First of all, whoever reads my poetry could never arrive at fundamentalist, absolutist thinking. If someone is attracted to my poetry, he or she is attracted to all of the metaphoric background that I throw up against violence.” You can read the full interview at the Paris Review website.

Amichai’s full biography can be found at poetryfoundation.

Please enjoy these poems and quotes.


My poems are political in the deeper sense of the word. Political means to live in your time, to be a man of your time.
Yehuda Amichai


I’ve often said that all poetry is political. This is because real poems deal with a human response to reality and politics is part of reality, history in the making. Even if a poet writes about sitting in a glass house drinking tea, it reflects politics.
Yehuda Amichai


Memorial Day For The War Dead by Yehuda Amichai was also turned into music.

Memorial day for the war dead. Add now
the grief of all your losses to their grief,
even of a woman that has left you. Mix
sorrow with sorrow, like time-saving history,
which stacks holiday and sacrifice and mourning
on one day for easy, convenient memory.

Oh, sweet world soaked, like bread,
in sweet milk for the terrible toothless God.
“Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.”
No use to weep inside and to scream outside.
Behind all this perhaps some great happiness is hiding.

Memorial day. Bitter salt is dressed up
as a little girl with flowers.
The streets are cordoned off with ropes,
for the marching together of the living and the dead.
Children with a grief not their own march slowly,
like stepping over broken glass.

The flautist’s mouth will stay like that for many days.
A dead soldier swims above little heads
with the swimming movements of the dead,
with the ancient error the dead have
about the place of the living water.

A flag loses contact with reality and flies off.
A shopwindow is decorated with
dresses of beautiful women, in blue and white.
And everything in three languages:
Hebrew, Arabic, and Death.

A great and royal animal is dying
all through the night under the jasmine
tree with a constant stare at the world.

A man whose son died in the war walks in the street
like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb.
“Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.”

Behind all this, some great happiness is hiding. - Yehuda Amichai

I was a very religious child – I went to synagogue at least once, sometimes twice, a day. And I remember my religiousness as good – I think religion is good for children, especially educated children, because it allows for imagination, a whole imaginative world apart from the practical world.
Yehuda Amichai


Wildpeace by Yehuda Amichai

Not the peace of a cease-fire
not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb,
but rather as in the heart when the excitement is over
and you can talk only about a great weariness.

I know that I know how to kill, that makes me an adult.

And my son plays with a toy gun that knows
how to open and close its eyes and say Mama.

A peace
without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares,
without words, without the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be
light, floating, like lazy white foam.

A little rest for the wounds – who speaks of healing?
(And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation
to the next, as in a relay race:
the baton never falls.

Let it come
like wildflowers,
suddenly, because the field
must have it: wildpeace.

Ward Kelley Artists Visitors.

Awards and Honors

Yehuda Amichai Awards and honors include:
• 1957 – Shlonsky Prize
• 1969 – Brenner Prize
• 1976 – Bialik Prize for literature (co-recipient with essayist Yeshurun Keshet)
• 1981 – Wurzburg’s Prize for Culture (Germany)
• 1982 – Israel Prize for Hebrew poetry. The prize citation read, in part: “Through his synthesis of the poetic with the everyday, Yehuda Amichai effected a revolutionary change in both the subject matter and the language of poetry.”
• 1986 – Agnon Prize
• 1994 – Malraux Prize: International Book Fair (France)
• 1994 – Literary Lion Award (New York)
• 1995 – Macedonia`s Golden Wreath Award: International Poetry Festival
• 1996 – Norwegian Bjornson Poetry Award
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yehuda_Amichai

  Visit Yehuda Amichai Amazon author’s page.

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