Page 143 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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I saw my father who drowned
in the waves o f the sea;
his frail hand again whitened
towards the distance —
and he’s gone . . .
Alone I was taken to their shore
while still a youth
with small, thin legs —
I’ve grown up now.
And behold I am my father
all his waves have passed upon me
until my soul wearies of them.
But all my holy ones
have gone to the desert
and I extend my hand to no-one.
I am blessed for I ’ll rest
in night’s black cradle,
the dome of the sky above me
with its silver flecks.18
The first verse finds a powerful echo in a poem written four
decades later, Amichai’s “My father in a white spacesuit”
be-halifat halal levanah).
In his elegiac verse about his father
which forms the subtext of all his writing, Amichai speaks of
his father’s floating away into his own “white, endless death.”19
Once he has died and gone “his strange distances” to meet God,
the father’s death becomes the son’s eternal responsibility and
his burden. Yet Vogel’s spokesman appears to be free of this
obligation and to have detached himself from his “holy ones”;
whoever they are they have “gone to the desert,” while his fa­
ther, in a vivid and uncompromising image, has drowned in
his life. The speaker has discovered the third option: to free
himself from his father’s obligations and to admit nature as his
Shirim liriyim,
ed. Matti Meged. Massada, 1970, 60-61.
19. Yehuda Amichai.
Me-ahorei kol zeh mistater osher gadol.
Jerusalem: Schocken,
1974, 49.