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Open Closed Open: Poemsby Yehuda Amichai
Synopses & Reviews
The last collection from one of the twentieth century's greatest poets
Yehuda Amichai emigrated with his parents to Jerusalem in 1935. There he became one of the first poets to write in colloquial Hebrew, writing fourteen books and winning the Israel Prize in 1982. Open Closed Open was his last collection of poetry. It is a testament to all that he represented: the beauty and honor of living, the wonder and vibrancy of language, the transformative power of love.
Praise for Yehuda Amichai and Open Closed Open
"Poets have always talked reverently about unlocking the human heart, but when I read Amichai I wonder who before him actually managed it."--Ted Hughes
"Amichai's splendid poems, refined and cast in the desperate foundries of the Middle East, where life and faith are always at stake, exhibit a majestic and Biblical range of the topography of the soul."--Anthony Hecht
"It is the dream of most poets to become a vox populi . . . Yehuda Amichai is one."--The New York Times Book Review
"Once one has read [Amichai's] poems, one can never forget them--there can be so much life and truth in sixteen lines. Amichai is a master."--Octavio Paz
YEHUDA AMICHAI (1924-2000) is considered one of the great poets of the twentieth century. The recipient of numerous awards, his work has been translated into more than thirty-seven languages.
CHANA BLOCH is the author of three books of poems. She lives in California.
CHANA KRONFELD is professor of Hebrew, Yiddish, and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in California.
In poems marked by tenderness and mischief, humanity and humor, Yehuda Amichai breaks open the grand diction of revered Jewish verses and casts the light of his own experience upon them. Here he tells of history, a nation, the self, love, and resurrection. Amichais last volume is one of meditation and hope, and stands as a testament to one of Israels greatest poets.
Open closed open. Before we are born, everything is open
in the universe without us. For as long as we live, everything is closed
within us. And when we die, everything is open again.
Open closed open. Thats all we are.
—from I WASNT ONE OF THE SIX MILLION:
AND WHAT IS MY LIFE SPAN? OPEN CLOSED OPEN”
Amichai writes of the language of love, and tea with roasted almonds, of desire and love. Of a Jewish cemetery whose groundskeeper is an expert on flowers and seasons of the year, but no expert on buried Jews; of Russian shirts embroidered in the colors of love and death; of Jerusalem, the city where everything sails: the flags, the prayer shawls, the caftans, the monks' robes, the kaffiyehs, and young women's dresses. The poet tenderly, mischievously, breaks open the grand diction of the revered Jewish verses and supplications and suddenly discovers the light that his own experience casts upon them. Here, the bread of memory and the circuses of forgetting, nostalgia for God and a better world, dust and heat, and tamarisk trees that stand as flight attendants for the next millennium, saying, You can still get a seat on the third millennium before liftoff. Open Closed Open-poems at once meditative and playful, anxious and full of hope, sung in a language of biblical directness and meaning, that through the microcosm of the everyday give us the gift of the world at large.
About the Author
YEHUDA AMICHAI (1924-2000) has long been considered one of the great poets of the twentieth century. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Israel Prize, his country's highest honor. His work has been translated into more than thirty-seven languages. Winner of the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation
Table of Contents
The Amen Stone
I Wasnt One of the Six Million:
And What Is My Life Span? Open Closed Open
I Foretell the Days of Yore
The Bible and You, the Bible and You, and Other Midrashim
Once I Wrote Now and in Other Days:
Thus Glory Passes, Thus Pass the Psalms
Gods Change, Prayers Are Here to Stay
David, King of Israel, Is Alive: Thou Art the Man
My Parents Lodging Place
What Has Always Been
Israeli Travel: Otherness Is All, Otherness Is Love
Evening Promenade on Valley of the Ghosts Street
Summer and the Far End of Prophecy
Houses (Plural); Love (Singular)
The Language of Love and Tea with Roasted Almonds
The Precision of Pain and the Blurriness of Joy:
The Touch of Longing Is Everywhere
In My Life, on My Life
Jewish Travel: Change Is God and Death Is His Prophet
Names, Names, in Other Days and in Our Time
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Why Jerusalem?
Conferences, Conferences: Malignant Words, Benign Speech
My Son Was Drafted
Autumn, Love, Commercials
And Who Will Remember the Rememberers?
The Jewish Time Bomb
What Our Readers Are Saying
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