Page 66 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
corpus. The War of Independence reappears in
Gam ha-egrof
but within vastly altered emotional formations: partly within the
format of memorialization and partly as a metaphor for creative
methodology. The poems in the
Yovlot milhamah
(Jubilees of war)
section of
Gam ha-egrof
emerged from Amichai’s visit with his
children to some of the battlefields of 1948. He describes this
as a “nostalgic” visit, a paradoxical designation in view of the
harshness of his war poetry composed in the 1950s shortly after
the experiences it describes. However, Amichai interprets nos­
talgia as “remembering” (
hizakhrut
): “I explained to my children
at Tel Gat, for example, that there was a position here, a ma­
chine gun here, we began a retreat from there and there my
good friend was wounded and I dragged him to the field am­
bulance.”7These factual details have been recapitulated in other
later poetry, notably in
M e’az
,8
and appear to be the accepted
signposts or metonyms of the war as explored in retrospect by
Amichai’s poetic spokesman.
Memories of the battlefields of 1948 no longer summon the
sustained metaphor of war as God’s absence or indifference:
there are no cosmic implications, no hand of God meddling
unconcernedly in the world, no proclamations of his lack of
compassion, no sense of the soldier struggling alone with the
dread facts of death, only a brief gibe at God’s “madness.” On
the contrary, the poems of
Yovlot milhamah
are suffused with
quasi-mythical or even pastoral elements which have more to
do with general memories of youth than explicit memories of
the war: flowers, gardens, orchards, warm weather (without a
hint of the rain or cold which distinguished one of his most
famous early war poems “Rain on the battlefield”), trees, sea.
The topographical outlines and landmarks and their colors are
clearly marked; there is no mist or fog in a war which has be­
come sanitized, almost beautiful in memory, different from its
stark incarnation in the poetry which was closer to the event.
The return to the battlefield in
Yovlot milhamah
focuses upon
two central properties: the first is memory, both private and
public, the second, camouflage
(hasva’ah).
The first poem in the
series of
Yovlot milhamah, Tel Gat,
opens with the restatement
of Amichai’s comment in the interview: “I brought my children
7. Karpel, op. cit., p. 23.
8.
Shalvah gedolah
she’elot u’teshuvot.
Schocken Books, 1990, pp. 9-11.