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.

Let it be like wild flowers

Tonight, three from Yehuda Amichai, (1924-2000) who is considered one of the finest modern Israeli poets.

“For My Mother”


Like an old windmill,
Two hands always raised to scream up to the sky
And two descending to make sandwiches.

Her eyes clean and polished
As on the eve of Passover.

At night, she puts all the letters
And the photographs next to each other,

To measure with them
The length of God’s finger.


I want to walk in the deep
Wadis between her sobs.

I want to stand in the hot wind
Of her silence.

I want to learn
On the rough trunks of her pain.


She puts me,
As Hagar put Ishmael,
Under one of the bushes.

So she won’t see me die in the war,
Under one of the bushes
In one of the wars.

“Wild Peace”

Not the one of an armistice,
Not even the one of the vision of wolf and lamb,
As in your heart after an excitement:
To talk only of a great weariness.
I know that I know how to kill,
I am grown up.
And my son plays with a toy gun that knows
How to open and close its eyes and say “Mama.”
Without the commotion of turning swords into plowshares, without
words, without
The sound of heavy seals; let it be light
On top, like lazy white foam.
Rest for the wounds,
Not even healing.
(And the scream of orphans is passed on from one generation
To another, as in a relay race: the baton won’t fall.)

Let it be
Like wild flowers,
Suddenly, an imperative of the field:
Wild peace.

“Again, A Love is Finished”

Again a love is finished, like a successful citrus season,
Or a digging season ofarr archaeologists, bringing up from the depths
Exciting things that wanted to be forgotten.

Again a love is finished. As after the demolition
Of a big house, and the cleaning of the debris, you’re standing
In the square empty lot, saying: How small
The space where the house stood
With all its stories and people.

And from the distant valley, you hear
A lonely tractor working,
And from the distant past, the clatter
Of a fork on a porcelain plate, mixing
And whipping up yoke with sugar for the child,
Clatter, clatter.