Yehuda Amichai: Ein Yahav (From Modern Hebrew)

Ein Yahav
By Yehuda Amichai
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Hebrew

A night drive to Ein Yahav1 in the Arabah.
A drive in the rain. Yes, in the rain.
There, I met people who grow date palms.
There, I saw great tamarisk trees2 and great risk trees
There, I saw hope barbed like barbed wire
And I said to myself: It is the truth. Hope must be
Like barbed wire to keep out our despair.
Hope must be a minefield.

1- Ein Yahav is a moshav (farming community) whose name literally translates to "Wellspring of Hope" situated in the Arabah, a desert that straddles part of the Israeli-Jordanian border.

2- Mention of Tamarisk trees alludes to Genesis 21:33 "And Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God." Planting a tamarisk was a sign of Abraham's covenant with Abimelech, granting him permission to live in the land of the Philistines. Here it is a metaphor for a possibility of the Jewish state making peace with the Arab states surrounding it.

The Original:

יהודה עמיחי
עין יהב

נסיעה לילית לעין יהב בערבה
נסיעה בגשם. כן בגשם.
שם פגשתי אנשים שמגדלים תמרים.
שם ראיתי עצי אשל ועצי אשליה.
שם ראיתי תקוה דוכרנית כמו תיל דוקרני
ואמרתי בלבי: אמת, התקוה צריכה להיות
כמו תיל כדי להגן עלינו מן היאוש.
התקוה צריכה להיות שדה מוקשים

1 comment:

  1. I don't read or understand Hebrew and English translation of Amichai's work is hard to come by. So I must thank you for the translations here. 
    It's a very beautiful poem.