Page 77 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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ABRAMSON / RETURN TO 1948
69
and metaphors. Also, in his repeated modification of words and
objects, a mixing of elements so that they frequently move to­
wards their opposite in a kind of verbal alchemy, Amichai’s
speaker undermines all the systems in his poetic world. The
instability of the text rests, first, in its deferred references and,
second, in its semantic fluidity — for example, torchlight which
has “learned” from a lighthouse which has “learned” from the
sun.19 In
Asinu
the image of the binoculars suggests a distortion
of the visual; subsequently there are other shifting elements:
directions, seasons, light and darkness. According to Ilan
Sheinfeld, “Poem after poem in the book presents everything
in the world as a reflection or an incarnation of something else
which also was an incarnation of something more ancient which
was an incarnation of a primeval source.”20 It is significant that
Amichai chooses “calming” darkness in the “war between the
Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness,” for darkness obscures
the referential outlines. Whereas the memories of the war itself
in
Yovlot milhamah
are steeped in sunlight, the aftermath in
Asinu
is predominantly dark or shadowy.
The clashing polar antitheses that characterize Amichai’s
work and which densely populate
Asinu,
provide further in­
stances of his textual facade, for neither external nor internal
life is lived according to these opposing absolutes: enlarging/
reducing, Light/Darkness, love/hate, earth/space, remembering/
forgetting , hope/despair, en tering /ex iting , blushing/pale,
crying/laughing, silence/sound, light/dark. Individual life is
lived between these elemental oppositions and Amichai previ­
ously indicated a device by which, in a dislocated universe, his
spokesman manoeuvres between them:
With my great silence and my small cry
I plough mingled seed
[horesh kilayim\.
I have been to Jerusalem and Rome.
Maybe I’ll get to Mecca.
Only this time God is hiding
And man cries “where are thou?”21
19.
Gam ha-egrof,
p. 25.
20.
Veha-kol masekhot, Al hamishmar,
9-7-1990.
21. “Vehi tehillatekha” in
Shirim 1948-1962.
Schocken Books, 1965, p. 71-72.
This poem strongly alludes to the great prayer o f the High Holy Days,
U'netaneh tokef
which indicates the parameters of the massive forces between
which the individual may die.