Reading the Poetry of Yehuda Amichai


The Nassau Literary Review took to the airwaves this week on WPRB 103.3 FM, Princeton’s college radio station.  On Fireside Poetry, Nasslit’s Managing Editor (and Web Staff alum!) J.M. Colon had a discussion with Editors-in-Chief Ben Goldman and Natasha Japanwala in which they read and analyzed the work of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai.  The program is full of good cheer, love of poetry, and funny moments, so you won’t want to miss it!

The following poems were read aloud on the program:


The Diameter of the Bomb

The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
with four dead and eleven wounded.
And around these, in a larger circle
of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
and one graveyard. But the young woman
who was buried in the city she came from,
at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
enlarges the circle considerably,
and the solitary man mourning her death
at the distant shores of a country far across the sea
includes the entire world in the circle.
And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans
that reaches up to the throne of God and
beyond, making a circle with no end and no God.

I Walked Past a House Where I Lived Once

I walked past a house where I lived once:
a man and a woman are still together in the whispers there.
Many years have passed with the quiet hum
of the staircase bulb going on
and off and on again.

The keyholes are like little wounds
where all the blood seeped out. And inside,
people pale as death.

I want to stand once again as I did
holding my first love all night long in the doorway.
When we left at dawn, the house
began to fall apart and since then the city and since then
the whole world.

I want to be filled with longing again
till dark burn marks show on my skin.
I want to be written again
in the Book of Life, to be written every single day
till the writing hand hurts.

When I Was Young the Whole Country Was Young

When I was young, the whole country was young. And my father
was everyone’s father. When I was happy, the country
was happy too, and when I jumped on her, she jumped
under me. The grass that covered her in spring
softened me too, and the dry earth of summer hurt me
like my own cracked footsoles.
When I first fell in love, they proclaimed
her independence, and when my hair
fluttered in the breeze, so did her flags.
When I fought in the war, she fought, when I got up
she got up too, and when I sank
she began to sink with me.

Now I’m beginning to come apart from all that:
like something that’s glued, after the glue dries out,
I’m getting detached and curling into myself.

The other day I saw a clarinet player in the Police Band
that was playing at David’s Citadel.
His hair was white and his face calm: a face
of 1946, the one and only year
between famous and terrible years
when nothing happened except for a great hope and his music
and my loving a girl in a quiet room in Jerusalem.
I hadn’t seen him since then, but the hope for a better world
never left his face.

Afterward I bought myself some non-kosher salami
and two bagels, and I walked home.
I managed to hear the evening news.
and ate and lay down on the bed and the memory of my first love came back to me
like the sensation of falling
just before sleep


About Nassau Literary Review

The Nassau Literary Review is the second oldest undergraduate literary magazine in the nation and the oldest student publication at Princeton University. Such authors as F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Peale Bishop, and Jonathan Safran Foer (among others) have been published in its pages.
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