Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Poetry: Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai
Gifts of Love

I gave them to you
for your clothes, your fingers. I gilded
the time on your wrist,
I hung a lot of glittery things on you
so you'd sway for me in the wind, so you'd
chime softly over me
to soothe my sleep.

I comforted you with apples, as it says
in the Song of Songs,
I lined your bed with them,
so we could roll smoothly on red apple-bearings.

I covered your skin with a pink chiffon
transparent as baby lizards—the ones with
black diamond eyes on summer nights.

You helped me to live for a couple of months
without needing religion
or a point of view.

You gave me a letter opener of silver.
Real letters aren't opened that way;
they're torn open,
torn, torn.


At 11:01 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

hmm... was this poem written in English? because as i was reading through it, i kept running into things that seemed to smack of sub-optimal translation -- "a lot of glittery things", "red apple-bearings" (after "apples" is already mentioned), "real letters". the sentiments all seem really cool, but the phrasing appears to persistently seem awkward, for some reason. hmm. i wonder if you agree.

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Ammegg said...

I don't think it's a translation, though I'll double-check. The awkwardness of the language is what's made the poem most interesting to me, though. You have a title as graceful and normal as "Gifts of Love" and then are stuck with the awkwardness of how to phrase these gifts. It may turn out that it was translational difficulties, but I like the feeling of the difficulty in the piece as it stands.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger N_Friction said...

It's a translation from modern Hebrew. Chana Block (spelling?) is the translator, I believe as this is version is verbatim from a collection of Amichai's work I bought a couple of years ago.

Amichai's work is apparently well known for its biblical nuance. A google search of his work and life should provide some insight.


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