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Amen by Yehuda Amichai

By Yehuda Amichai

Translations from the Hebrew of the good Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai, with an creation by way of Ted Hughes.

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My first memory is of my grandmother with trembling hands spilling a kettle of boiling water over my feet when I was two. 11 The town I was born in was destroyed by shells. The ship in which I sai led to the land of Israel was drowned later in the war. The barn at Hammadia where I had loved was burned out. The sweet shop at Ein-Gedi was blown up by the enemy. The bridge at Ismailia, which I crossed to and fro on the eve of my loves, has been torn to pieces. Thus my life is wiped out behind me according to an exact map : How much longer can my memories hold out?

A rivederci, our father. Buona notte, our king. Tears at the eye. Like dry crumbs in a pocket Of some past cake. Buona notte, Sonino. A rivederci, the six million, The girls, the tree and the crumbs . The Synagogue in Venice This synagogue knows of all the many waters That cannot put out this love. I cover my head with my arm, Which comes out of my shoulder, not far from my heart. No need for a skullcap. Many thanks. This Is a museum . This is an empty grave Of those who rose out of it For resurrection or new death.

And high above, longings stir like rustling paper. 34 I never realized gym teachers could be sad. He is very tired and wants nothing more than that the beautiful tourist girl s itting beside him at a table will get up before him and walk about with her wobbling round buttocks, which she has brought with her from her countr ies. He wants nothing more. 28 Oh, who has the quietest face here? Thus rings the bell from Mount Zion. What goes to the holy hill of Moriah? Children go with their parents on Sabbath, eating rotten almonds and decaying chocolate bars.

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