Page 75 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

Basic HTML Version

Amichai poses “forgetting” in the context of a change of di­
rection; whether this is spiritual or ideological, or whether for­
getting is deemed to be a kind of disloyalty to history, remains
There is a sense in this poem that duty itself is the subject
and the remainder of the verse a series of consequences. The
notion of
mutal aleinu,
“imposed upon us” extends, in other po­
etry in the same collection, to a wish to negate all duty and
Abel killed Cain and Moses
entered the Promised Land. The Children o f Israel
remained in the desert.
I ride in Ezekiel’s chariot visions
while Ezekiel himself dances like Miriam the prophetess
in the valley o f dry bones.
Sodom and Gomorrah are developing
and Lot’s wife has become a pillar o f sugar and honey.
David, King o f Israel lives and flourishes.
I so very much
want to muddle up the Bible.16
Rewriting the Bible will restore the world and the word to the
chaos from which it can be reconstituted. This is not so much
a wish to alter the biblical narrative as the desire for freedom
from the restriction represented by its fixed textual order. Yet
the same poem claims that “order and righteousness” (
are already muddled, for good and evil are indis­
tinguishable from each other, like salt and pepper shakers.
Therefore by muddling, that is, reordering, the biblical text its
substance will also be altered. In fact Amichai has always prac­
tised a subversion of the biblical text by his sophisticated system
of allusiveness and ironic intertextuality. Nili Scharf-Gold, who
has written an important study of Amichai’s methodology of
concealment, suggests that in its exact quotation of the line “Da­
vid, King of Israel lives and flourishes” among the rearranged
statements of “I want to muddle up the Bible,” the poem rep­
resents the wish for political reality to be modified. In similar
spirit, Amichai negates one of the firm principles of faith, “I
believe in the coming of the Messiah” by substituting “trees”
and “rain” as the object of the belief.17
Ani rotseh levalbel et ha-tanakh,
Gam ha-egrof,
p. 32.