Jerusalem

Yehuda Amichai

Translated by: Eva L. Weiss

Original text: "ירושלים עיר נמל "


Artwork by Daphne Odjig

 

Jerusalem is a port city on the shore of eternity.

 

The Temple Mount, a ship, a pleasure boat,

 

so grand.  From the decks of the Western Wall, the saints gaze,

 

elated, as they set sail. On the pier, the pious ones wave farewell

 

and shout, ahoy. Always a ship at shore,

 

and another at sea. The rails, passages,

 

the navy command, the flags and the tall church spires,

 

                                                                                       the mosques and synagogue-canoes, hymn boats

 

                                                                                       and sea crests. The call of the ram’s horn is heard: another

 

                                                                                       ship asea. The Yom Kippur sailors in their white togs

 

                                                                                       swing from the ladders to the ropes of their measured prayers.

 

                                                                                       The freight and flow, the locks, the golden domes.

 

                                                                                       Jerusalem is the Lord’s Venice.

Yehuda Amichai
 

Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000) is an iconic Israeli poet whose works have been translated into many languages. He was born in Germany and immigrated to Palestine as a child. Translator Robert Alter notes that “he uses his own language and literary tradition as a delicately tuned instrument.”

Eva L. Weiss
 

Eva L. Weiss was born in New York and immigrated to Israel in 1992. She lives in Jerusalem and works as a writer, editor and translator. Her first children’s book, “I am Israeli,” was published in September 2015.