“Despite all the politics, the anthology manages to showcase two strengths of contemporary Israeli poetry: a stark simplicity and an ability to manipulate familiar Biblical scenes or phrases. . . . Most importantly, this anthology shows American readers a whole slew of poets they might not know because they are never or rarely translate: Maya Bejerano, Chamutal Bar-Yosef, Aryeh Sivan, Eli Alon, and the book’s editor, Moshe Dor. All deserve to be read. For an American reader, these poems of war, history, and Biblical reference are particularly fresh.”
—Aviya Kushner, Harvard Review
“Great poetry doesn’t necessarily get made out of important subjects. But this is an urgent subject and the poems address it eloquently. War-weariness, piercing sadness, hope.”
—Robert Hass, The Washington Post Book World
“Despite the formidable obstacles of language, the tragedy of war and hope for peace, the alef and tav of Israeli life, shine through this moving collection.
—Aaron Leibel, Washington Jewish Week
Sixty-five Israeli poets write of their despair over war and their fierce craving for peace. One reviewer wrote “the tragedy of war and hopes for peace, the alef and tav of Israeli life, shine through this moving collection.” Among the 35 translators of poems in this collection are the late William Matthews, Henry Taylor, Stephen Mitchell, Linda Pastan, Jane Hirshfield, Myra Sklarew and Shirley Kaufman.
To Live in the Land of Israel
To be cocked like a rifle, a hand
on your gun, to walk
a tight, hard line, even when
your cheeks have filled with dust,
and your flesh is falling off, and your eyes
Can no longer focus on the target.
They say that a cocked gun
is bound to go off. Well, it isn’t.
Anything can happen in this Land of Israel.
a broken firing pin, a rusty spring,
or an unexpectedly canceled order,
as was the case with Abraham on Mount Moriah.
Translated by Hillel Halkin
in memory of Tsvi Hurvitz, pioneer, army commander, and bereaved father