Guest poem sent in by Abhishek Singh
(Poem #1398) A Man Doesn't Have Time In His Life
A man doesn't have time in his life to have time for everything. He doesn't have seasons enough to have a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes Was wrong about that. A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment, to laugh and cry with the same eyes, with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them, to make love in war and war in love. And to hate and forgive and remember and forget, to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest what history takes years and years to do. A man doesn't have time. When he loses he seeks, when he finds he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves he begins to forget. And his soul is seasoned, his soul is very professional. Only his body remains forever an amateur. It tries and it misses, gets muddled, doesn't learn a thing, drunk and blind in its pleasures and its pains. He will die as figs die in autumn, Shriveled and full of himself and sweet, the leaves growing dry on the ground, the bare branches pointing to the place where there's time for everything.
Note: From "The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai", translations by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell. I was sent this poem by a friend of mine, who adores Amichai. Frankly speaking, I had not heard of this late Israeli poet, before this poem. But this one encounter was enough to put me in awe of his art. What I found out was that Amichai is the most translated poet in Hebrew after King David! Like all translations something IS lost from one language to the other. Amichai's poetry in fact either renders very well or not well at all into English depending on the point of view taken. His poetry is simple, direct, colloquial (my friend tells me that he is read by soldiers, shopkeepers...), while also drawing on history and playing with words and sounds. The wit and word-play are of course lost in English. In this poem for example, the second-last stanza seems a bit ackward, with unwieldy words like 'professional' and 'amateur' breaking the flow, but the overall message of the simplicity of the body and the sophistication of the soul is one that is powerful beyond words. Anyway I admit to not knowing a lot more about Amichai, but would love it if someone told us more about him and his poetry. This write- up has been more about the poet, because I think the poem itself is amazing enough to speak for itself! Finally there's nothing more to be said, apart from the final imagery... "He will die as figs die in autumn, Shriveled and full of himself and sweet, ... the bare branches pointing to the place where there's time for everything." Amichai died in 2000...you can light a candle in his memorium and read more at http://www.ithl.org.il/amichai/ Abhishek We've run one other poem by Amichai: Poem #1108 Biography: http://www.ithl.org.il/amichai/on.html