Yehuda Amichai: My Father (From Hebrew)

Every generation that goes to war hopes that the next will not have to do likewise. 

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

Four years my father fought that war of theirs,
And did not love or hate his enemies.
But I know he was forming me, even there,
Day by day, out of his tranquilities,

The precious few tranquilities he gleaned
Between the smoke and bombs for a child's sake
And put them in the knapsack tattered at the seams,
With leftovers of mother's hardening cake.

He gathered with his eyes the nameless dead.
The numerous dead he gathered so I'd know
And love them, seeing them as he saw, instead 

Of dying, as they died, in gore and terror.
He filled his eyes with them. He was in error.
Onward like them to all my wars I go. 

The Original: 


אָבִי

אָבִי הָיָה אַרְבַּע שָׁנִים בְּמִלְחַמְתָּם,
וְלֹא שָׂנֵא אוֹיְבָיו וְלֹא אָהַב. 
אֲבָל אֲנִי יוֹדֵעַ, כִּי כְּבָר שָׁם 
בָּנָה אוֹתִי יוֹם-יוֹם מִשַׁלְווֹתָיו

הַמֻּעָטוֹת כָּל-כָּךְ, אֲשֶׁר לָקַט 
אוֹתָן בֵּין פְּצָצוֹת וּבֵין עָשָׁן,
וְשָׂם אוֹתָן בְּתַרְמִילוֹ הַמְמֻרְטָט
עִם שְׁאֵרִית עֻגַּת-אִמּוֹ הַמִּתְקַשָּׁה.

וּבְעֵינָיו אָסַף מֵתִים בְּלִי שֵּׁם,
מֵתִים רַבִּים אָסַף לְמַעֲנִי,
שֶׁאַכִּירֵם בְּמַבָּטָיו וְאוֹהֲבֵם

וְלֹא אָמוּת כְּמוֹהֶם בַּזְּוָעָה...
הוּא מִלֵּא עֵינָיו בָּהֶם וְהוּא טָעָה:
אֶל כָּל מִלְחֲמוֹתַי יוֹצֵא אֲנִי.
Romanization:

Avi

Aví hayá arbáˁ šaním bemilħamtám
Veló sané oyváv veló aháv.
Avál aní yodéaˁ ki kvar šam 
Baná otí yom-yóm mišalvotáv

Hamuˁatót kol-káx ašér lakát
Otán beyn petsatsót uvéyn ašán,
Vesám otán betarmiló hamemurtát
ˁIm še'erít ˁugát-imó hamitkašá.

Uveˁeynáv asáf meytím bli šém
Meytím rabím asáf lemaˁaní
Še'akirém bemabatáv ve'ohavém.

Veló amút kamóhem  bazvaˁá...
Hu milé ˁeynáv bahém vehú taˁá:
El kol milħamotáy yotsé ani. 

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