I first encountered Yehuda Amichai in Chana Bloch’s translation. Having slaughtered and cleaned many chickens, I love the image in this excerpt, from another translator:
God’s Hand in the World
God’s hand in the world
like my mother’s
in the guts of the slaughtered hen
What does God see beyond the window
as he puts his hand into the world?
What does my mother see?
Yehuda Amichai (tr. from Hebrew by Harold Schimmel)
I was lucky to know Chana Bloch, a generous spirit, a poet and a translator. Here is a poem she translated from the Hebrew with Stephen Mitchell. I often feel that I come from a world that no longer exists, a world where maids polished the silver and made little textured butter balls with wooden paddles for parties.
My mother comes from the days
My mother comes from the days when they made
paintings of beautiful fruit in silver bowls
and didn’t ask for more.
People moved through their lives
like ships, with the wind or against it, faithful
to their course.
I ask myself which is better
dying old or dying young.
As if I’d asked which is lighter
a pound of feathers or a pound of iron.
I want feathers, feathers, feathers.
Yehuda Amichai (trans. from Hebrew by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell)
Once again this comes from the posts of Sean the Sharpener