JWN poetry corner– # 1

I read this in The New Yorker, and was moved by it:

    Now, when the waters are pressing mightily

      by Yehuda Amichai

Now, when the waters are pressing mightily
on the walls of the dams,
now, when the white storks, returning,
are transformed in the middle of the firmament
into fleets of jet planes,
we will feel again how strong are the ribs
and how vigorous is the warm air in the lungs
and how much daring is needed to love on the exposed plain,
when the great dangers are arched above,
and how much love is required
to fill all the empty vessels
and the watches that stopped telling time,
and how much breath,
a whirlwind of breath,
to sing the small song of spring.

    Translated from the Hebrew by Leon Wieseltier.

4 thoughts on “JWN poetry corner– # 1

  1. Christiane

    Well, it’s not easy to comment on a poem.. one can only listen to the music of the words. It makes me think to the recent tsunami.. or it could also be connected to the difficult situation in ME.
    So I hope Helena won’t mind if I change tone and post that link to Patrick Seale’s opinion on the coming Iraqi election and more generally on the situation in Iraq.
    His proposals are quite audacious :
    1) THe US declares it has no intention to stay in Iraq and begun to plan for his withdrawal during 2005. Objection : will the Iraqis believe they are sincere ? It could just be seen as a trick..
    2) The Iraqis could unite behind their army, which has already survived to many purges, but it should be a real army, not the weak one the US attempted to create. Mmm.. wont’ that be dangerous ? I mean not for Iraq’s neighbours, but for the Iraqi society ? I know about the role of the army in the Portuguese revolution of 1975, but aren’t exceptions confirming the rule ?
    3) With these two perspectives in mind, the Iraqis begin serious negotiations in order to secure minoritie’s role and guarantee their place/rights in the future of Iraq.
    4) Elections can only succeed after the respective share of power of each group has been successfully negotiated (this is not so far of what Dominic said using the South African example).
    All that contrasts with the position of Sistani, just reported by Juan Cole. He defends immediate elections, however his position seems remarkably moderate, what do you think ?
    Patrick Seale opinion was published in Dar Al Hayat and quoting from here “Patrick Seale is considered one of the most in-depth British journalists in the Middle East. He is the former correspondent of the London newspaper

  2. David

    Helena might not mind but changing the topic away from the main posting violates new guideline #1. There are plenty of Iraqi elections threads, no need to hijack a poetry corner for that.
    David

  3. Dave

    How refreshing to read poetry in a political blog! (And about time, ’cause those of us who write poetry blogs do veer into politics on a regular basis.) Amichai is great. I’d love to see translations of Arabic poetry now and then, too, if you happen on them; the only contemporary Arab poet I’m familiar with is Mahmoud Darwish. I was hoping that when William Kristoff (i think that’s his name? – NY Times columnist) did a column of poems from U.S. soldiers in Iraq last year, he might follow up with one of poems by Iraqis, but he never did.

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