Page 71 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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Asinu et hamutal aleinu
(We did our duty) which also
appears in
Gam ha-egrof
(142-143). All the familiar landmarks
are present in it but measured from an evaluative standpoint
far removed from autobiography, primarily the rhetorical use
throughout of the first person plural,
(we). The implicit
projection of the self onto the society is made explicit in this
poem. Whereas
Yovlot milhamah
presents at least a nominally
individualized view of the period and people of the war,
is a more substantive, less romanticized examination of its af­
termath. The national enterprise imposed certain demands
which were fulfilled, but what followed shed all trace of roman­
tic utopianism. Much of Amichai’s subsequent poetry has been
exploring this aftermath mediated through individual responses
which incorporate implications for the nation. In this poem the
group is implicated directly:
We did our duty.
With our children we went
to pluck mushrooms in the forest
which we had planted when we were children.
We learnt the names o f wildflowers,
whose good scent
was like blood spilt in vain.
We placed great love on small bodies,
we stood growing large and small in turn,
in the eyes o f the Godlike, mad, watcher with binoculars.
In the War between the Sons of Light
and the Sons of Darkness
we loved the calming darkness
and hated the hurtful light.
We did our duty,
we loved our childhood
more than our land,
having dug all the wells in the earth
now we dig wells in space,
wells without beginning, without purpose.
We did our duty,
we exchanged the word “remember” with “forgotten”
like changing the placard on a bus