Friday, 22 February 2008

Amichai after forty years...

Watched a slow and wonderful Korean movie entitled Why Bodhidarma came from the East. Peter fell asleep on the couch beside me towards the end. It reminded me a bit of the other Asian movie about a Zen master, called by the names of the seasons, Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, only am not sure which season was the first. In both, it happens a child is cruel to an animal... In this film, an ox breaks lose and is lost. It is found at the end, the final picture has stayed in my mind, of the ox tethered and compliant, following the man, both silhouetted against paddy fields covered in water.

More reading of John Marsden and Natalie Goldberg. John Marsden is not good enough, his own writing is shoddy, too many adverbs and adjectives, and yet I feel obliged to finish, in case, just in case the idea for structure suddenly appears among the chaff.
No time yet for Michael Dibdin. Went out for pizza with a friend tonight, and she lent me another book about an Italian detective, this one originally written in Italian, the friend says good translation, it takes place in Sicily. Entitled The Terracotta Dog, by Andrea Camilleri. The book belongs to her daughter, so I must read it quickly and return it.

Read some Amichai last night - the book has the Hebrew original and the English translations, some of them in collaboration with Ted Hughes. Rediscovered the poem about Jerusalem which was the one that made me remember Amichai, written after the Six Day War, when we were naive and innocent. It affected me differently now.

If I forget thee, Jerusalem,
Then let my right be forgotten....
Let my right be forgotten and my left remember.
Let my left remember, and your right close
And your mouth open near the gate.
Should my right forget,
My left shall forgive,
I shall forget all water,
I shall forget my mother.

A terrible love.

Better is this:

On a roof in the Old City
laundry hanging in the late afternoon sunlight:
the white sheet of a woman who is my enemy,
the towel of a man who is my enemy,
to wipe off the sweat of his brow.

In the sky of the Old City
a kite.
At the other end of the string,
a child
I can't see
because of the wall.

There is more but I'll stop here because of copyright.

Yesterday, Hinemoana read us a text called The Solution by Sharon Olds, from a book The Gold Cell. Wanting not to be shocked, I was shocked, and then delighted by the ending.
They have three of Sharon Olds books at the Central Library.

1 comment:

Sivan said...


Thank you for the warm kind words of sympathy.

Hope you have a peaceful weekend!
Shabbat Shalom!