Magazine article Tikkun

Amichai's Jerusalem

Magazine article Tikkun

Amichai's Jerusalem

Article excerpt

Yehuda Amichai is Israel's leading poet and a literary figure of international stature. His magnum opus, Open Closed Open, was on the Israeli best-seller list for eight weeks; it will be published in English translation by Harcourt later this year. Open Closed Open is a verse narrative of some three hundred poems, arranged in twenty-three closely structured cycles, that distill from his life story a poetic biography of our century.

The selection here comes from a cycle of poems about Jerusalem, a subject Amichai has returned to repeatedly. He has lived in Jerusalem for over sixty years, and now lives with his family in Yemin Moshe, looking out over the Valley of Hinnom onto the wall of the Old City. What interests him are not the sanctified myths about the celestial Jerusalem, nor the boilerplate pieties of the Tourist Bureau, but rather the complicated realities of the earthly Jerusalem with its terrors and burdens-the daily grind, the exalted moments. Amichai's poems tell us what it means to make one's home in a place where three world religions jostle against one another, a city on a hill which the wrangling of centuries has turned into a site of bitter contention. …

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