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Open Closed Open: Poems

4.4 of 5 stars 4.40  ·  rating details  ·  161 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Amichai writes of the language of love, and tea with roasted almonds, of desire and love. Of a Jewish cemetery whose groundskeeper is an expert on flowers and seasons of the year, but no expert on buried Jews; of Russian shirts embroidered in the colors of love and death; of Jerusalem, the city where everything sails: the flags, the prayer shawls, the caftans, the monks' r ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 1998)
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I found this compulsively readable in a way that few poetry collections are to me. These are poems told from the perspective of a life lived and pondered; of working through hardships to come to a kind of peace. The craftsmanship is impeccable; line after line is devastatingly beautiful. The book cover of this edition--a simple fragment of brown carved stone set against a faded larger image of the same--nicely sums up many of the themes therein in visual terms. But I'm still reading this; the te ...more
I didn't expect to like this book. Even as I began feeling more and more admiration for some of the passages and lines, I still wanted to dislike it. But by the end, I had to admit to being completely impressed. Although Amichai focuses a lot on his own ego and mortality, there are still so many brilliant turns of phrase and twists on biblical passages, so many references to Israeli life and death, Jewish life and death as to render this an important book in Jewish literature of the 20th century ...more
Apr 23, 2008 Alisha rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alisha by: David Bespeil
Shelves: poetry
I read this book for a poetry class I'm taking. It is done in format that felt restrictive and repetitive; a poem title, and then ten-twenty individual little poems, some related, and some not. He had some moments of lyricism and emotion; the rest of the lines read like a journal, and seemed banal and (dare I say?) unpoetic.

Not knowing much about Palestine/Israel relations in the early 20th century, or about life in Germany during this time, I didn't understand the heresy implicit in his work. I
I want to sing a psalm of praise to all that remains
here with us and doesn't leave, doesn't wander off like migratory birds,
will not flee to the north or the south, will not sing "In the East is my heart,
and I dwell at the end of the West." I want to sing to the trees
that do not shed their leaves and that suffer
the searing summer heat and the cold of winter,
and to human beings who do not shed their memories
and who suffer more than those who shed everything.
But above all, I want to sing a
Seth the Zest
I found most of the poems to have flat language that calls little attention to itself. Repeated lines like "What remains? The suitcase in top of the closer,/ that's what remains." offer moderately interesting, if shallow, philosophies.

The best moments in this book are surprises and they come infrequently. Retelling the story of Gideon choosing his army is masterful. So is a tiny section on page 103 "At a pay phone, I saw a woman making a call,/
and crouching at her feet, a large musical instrume
One of my favorites books of poetry. The whole is more than the sum of its parts: not everything is great, but read in full it's overwhelming.
Amichai's magnum opus! I worked in a bookstore when this came out in hard copy and immersed myself for long periods reading this gem.
Courtney Anthony
Exquisite. "I Foretell the Days of Yore" is my personal favorite.
Someday I want to be able to read these in the original Hebrew.
God it feels good to read something other than educational theory....lovely metaphors in this one. And nice rhythmic pacing...
amazing amazing amazing - the hebrew is actually fairly accessible.
Mar 27, 2008 Tony rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: verse
Devastating, as always.
not sure if poems are my cup of tea
Poetry as clear and deep as water, language that even in English translation keeps the sound of its Hebrew cadences. One of my favorite poets, and poetry books, ever. It tastes like Israel.
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Yehuda Amichai (Hebrew: יהודה עמיחי; 3 May 1924 – 22 September 2000) was an Israeli poet. Amichai is considered by many, both in Israel and internationally, as Israel's greatest modern poet. He was also one of the first to write in colloquial Hebrew.

Yehuda Amichai [was] for generations the most prominent poet in Israel, and one of the leading figures in world poetry since the mid-1960s.

(The Times,
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“I’ve never been in those places where I’ve never been and never will be, I have no share in the infinity of light-years and dark-years, but the darkness is mine, and the light, and my time is my own. ” 6 likes
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