But the world is beautifully made for doing good and for resting

A rainy day in Boulder Creek, California. December, 2019.

“A Quiet Joy”
by Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000)

I’m standing in a place where I once loved.
The rain is falling. The rain is my home.

I think words of longing: a landscape
out to the very edge of what’s possible.

I remember you waving your hand
as if wiping mist from the windowpane,

and your face, as if enlarged
from an old blurred photo.

Once I committed a terrible wrong
to myself and others.

But the world is beautifully made for doing good
and for resting, like a park bench.

And late in life I discovered
a quiet joy
like a serious disease that’s discovered too late:

just a little time left now for quiet joy.

But doubts and loves dig up the world

Today I carry with me, in my pocket and in my heart, these necessary words by the great Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000).


“The Place Where We Are Right”

From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.

The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.

But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.

So open your window to the evening

Dear friends, readers, and lovely strangers who somehow ended up here because of a search term and decided to stay awhile,

Thank you for following my daily posts for National Poetry Month. I hope reading the poems has been as meaningful for you as it has been for me. Rest assured, I will continue to post from time to time…just not every day!

Today, I give you a piece from the great Israeli poet Natan Zach (1930-) via the comprehensive collection of translations recently published by Tavern Books. Here’s to sorrow and honey, the old and the young, to the lost and found…to the wind-shapes and to poetry.


“A Farewell Song”

The old man holding the oar,
the man in shadows, the miller,
the couple making love in the barn
confirm the distant rumor of life
spoken of in rumors.
Night after night they stand near us,
spirits captive of their past–
once they resembled us
and could, if they so desired, sing.
Look! A youthful evening is falling
and they all return, the old with the young.
Oh, there’s never an end to sorrow,
also there is no sorrow in the world.
Frozen like figures of wax
far from the honey we gathered,
they turn out lives, as well,
in their own way to honey.
So open your window to the evening
and let the wind-shapes enter–
the old man holding the oar,
the man in shadows, the miller,
the couple crying out in the night–
to testify that nothing is lost here
and that nothing is here but what is lost
and that all their wants are laid upon us
and they rest in peace at last.