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Angry Waves

C.H. Sisson, 18 December 1986

Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai 
translated by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell.
Viking, 173 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 670 81454 7
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Hurricane Lamp 
by Turner Cassity.
Chicago, 68 pp., £12.75, May 1986, 0 226 09614 9
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Selected Poems 
by Robert Wells.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £2.95, September 1986, 0 85635 669 7
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... more or less unavoidable cases is small, but the contagion is everywhere. The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai shows clearly, even through the medium of translation, that its author is among the small number in whom the disease was, if not congenital, at any rate not to be avoided by any reasonable precautions. From his earliest years he undoubtedly ...

A Martian School of two or more

James Fenton, 6 December 1979

A Martian sends a postcard home 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 46 pp., £2.95
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by Christopher Reid.
Oxford, 50 pp., £2.75
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by Hugo Williams.
Whizzard Press/Deutsch, 40 pp., £2.95
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A Faust Book 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.25, September 1979, 0 19 211895 1
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by Yehuda Amichai.
Oxford, 88 pp., £3.50
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... with the same aimlessness or vanity which leads him to pass off tentative jottings as whole poems. Yehuda Amichai, ‘Israel’s foremost poet’, roped in Ted Hughes in order to help with the translation of his vapid collection, Time. Was the idea that Hughes should make sure that Amichai avoided making a fool of ...

Their Witness

Donald Davie, 27 February 1992

The Poetry of Survival: Post-War Poets of Central and Eastern Europe 
edited by Daniel Weissbort.
Anvil, 384 pp., £19.95, January 1992, 0 85646 187 3
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... that something can be saved from the wreckage. Else, how could he reprint his 1986 interview with Yehuda Amichai, in the course of which he artlessly explains how the entire confidence-trick was dreamed up by himself and Ted Hughes? I was starting a magazine, Modern Poetry in Translation, with Ted. The reason I started it was because Ted ... had come ...

Jews’ Harps

Gabriel Josipovici, 4 February 1982

Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse 
by T. Carmi.
Penguin, 608 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 14 042197 1
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... more resonant than the most grandiose rhetoric. In his introduction Carmi quotes from a poem by Yehuda Amichai (not included in the volume): The man under the fig-tree telephoned the man under his vine: ‘Tonight they will surely come. Armour the leaves, Lock up the tree, Call home the dead and be prepared.’ And Carmi comments: ‘The introduction ...


Michael Hofmann, 23 May 1996

Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew 
by John Felstiner.
Yale, 344 pp., £19.95, June 1995, 0 300 06068 8
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by Paul Celan, translated by Pierre Joris.
Sun & Moon, 261 pp., $21.95, September 1995, 1 55713 218 6
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... that is the fateful uniqueness of language,’ he wrote. Only slightly younger Jewish writers like Yehuda Amichai and Dan Pagis – a fellow Bukovinan – emigrated to Israel and wrote their poetry in Hebrew: Celan couldn’t. It is what gives his poetry its desperate distinction. ‘There is nothing in the world,’ Celan said, ‘for which a poet will ...

Meyer Schapiro’s Mousetrap

Gabriel Josipovici, 5 June 1980

Late Antique, Early Christian and Medieval Art: Selected Papers, Vol. 3 
by Meyer Schapiro.
Chatto, 414 pp., £20, April 1980, 0 7011 2514 4
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... of Ireland, Spain and Norway is as important for us as that of Italy or France. The Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai, was making the same point when, in a recent interview with Tony Rudolf, he stressed the kinship he felt with such poets as Seferis and Montale: for too long our geography and our history have made us look at things in the wrong way, and by ...

Protests with Parasols

Michael Wood: Proust, Dreyfus, Israel, 20 December 2012

Proust among the Nations: From Dreyfus to the Middle East 
by Jacqueline Rose.
Chicago, 239 pp., £22.50, February 2012, 978 0 226 72578 9
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... and they tend to become more than makeshift. Rose’s chapter ends with an evocation of poems by Yehuda Amichai and Mahmoud Darwish that ‘allow something to rise to the surface, unsettling the surface boundaries of the world’. We see such unsettling perfectly in Amichai’s poem ‘Jerusalem’:We have put up many ...

Failed State

Jacqueline Rose: David Grossman, 18 March 2004

Death as a Way of Life: Dispatches from Jerusalem 
by David Grossman.
Bloomsbury, 179 pp., £8.99, April 2003, 0 7475 6619 4
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Someone to Run With 
by David Grossman.
Bloomsbury, 374 pp., £7.99, March 2004, 9780747568124
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... much holiness in the air’. ‘It’s sad to be/the mayor of Jerusalem – it’s terrible,’ Yehuda Amichai writes in one of his best-known poems. Another poem, ‘Jerusalem’, contains these lines: In the sky of the Old City A kite. At the other end of the string, A child I can’t see Because of the wall. We have put up many flags, They have put ...

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