Philip Terman: Darwish and Amichai Share Poems in Heaven
So let’s be an open hand,
one of them says, offering our timeto the Gods.
The other responds:
Even a fist was an open palmwith five fingers.
And it goes on
like this, year after year, age
after age, these two souls hovering,
indistinguishable in the light,
reciting their spirit-selves one
after the other, no longer grieving
their respective exiles,
the breath of their words
shaping the winds
across the deserts
of their homeland,
which is the same homeland,
and now they recite together,
each listening hard
to the other’s language.
Yehuda Amichai (born Ludwig Pfeuffer, 1924 – 2000) was an Israeli poet. Amichai is considered, both in Israel and internationally, as Israel’s greatest modern poet, and one of the leading poets worldwide. He was one of the first to write in colloquial Hebrew.
Mahmoud Darwish (1941 – 2008) was widely regarded as the Palestinian national poet. Darwish used Palestine as a metaphor for the loss of Eden, birth and resurrection, and the anguish of dispossession and exile. He is often credited with reviving the tradition of the political poet in Islam.
For an extended comparison and contrast of the poetry of Yehuda Amichai and Mahmoud Darwish, click here.