Chana Bloch, author of the prize-winning Mrs. Dumpty, and co-translator of the Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai and the Song of Songs, directs the Creative Writing Program at Mills College, Oakland, CA.
The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry was saddened to learn of Chana Bloch’s passing at the age of 77 on May 19, 2017. UC Berkeley offered a lovely tribute and look at her life and accomplishments here.
Chana Kronfeld, who teaches Hebrew and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley, writes about Amichai in her On the Margins of Modernism, winner of the MLA’s Scaglione Prize.
Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000) is a writer with an international reputation. He was born in Germany and emigrated with his parents to Palestine in 1936. Best known for his poetry, he is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Israel Prize, his country’s highest honor. Open Closed Open was published in Israel in the original Hebrew in 1998.
“These last poems by the greatest Israeli poet of the modern era are marked by the humanity and humor, which have always characterized his work. Here they seem even more depth-charged, as when he writes, ‘When you go out for a night patrol, fill your canteen to the top/so the water won’t make a sloshing sound and give you away./That’s how your soul ought to be in your body, large and full and silent.’ The challenge of rendering the range of his tone has been met with extraordinary amplitude and aplomb by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld.”
Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld read I, May I Rest in Peace
I, May I Rest in Peace, by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld translating Yehuda Amichai
I, May I Rest in Peace
I, may I rest in peace – I, who am still living, say,
May I have peace in the rest of my life.
I want peace right now while I’m still alive.
I don’t want to wait like that pious man who wished for one leg
of the golden chair of Paradise, I want a four-legged chair
right here, a plain wooden chair. I want the rest of my peace now.
I have lived out my life in wars of every kind: battles without
and within, close combat, face-to-face, the faces always
my own, my lover-face, my enemy-face.
Wars with the old weapons – sticks and stones, blunt axe, words,
dull ripping knife, love and hate,
and wars with newfangled weapons – machine gun, missile,
words, land mines exploding, love and hate.
I don’t want to fulfill my parents’ prophecy that life is war.
I want peace with all my body and all my soul.
Rest me in peace.
From Open Closed Open, by Yehuda Amichai
Copyright © 2000 by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld
More about Yehuda Amichai, Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld
The following are links to other Web sites with information about poets Yehuda Amichai, Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld. (Note: All links to external Web sites open in a new browser window.)
- Yehuda Amichai Tribute (The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature)
- Yehuda Amichai Profile (The Academy of American Poets)
- Chana Bloch (official Web site)
Have you read Open Closed Open by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld translating Yehuda Amichai? Add your comments to this page and let us know what you think.