Tourists   by Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000)

Visits of condolence is all we get from them.
They squat at the Holocaust Memorial,
They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall
And they laugh behind heavy curtains
In their hotels.
They have their pictures taken
Together with our famous dead
At Rachel's Tomb and Herzl's Tomb
And on Ammunition Hill.
They weep over our sweet boys
And lust after our tough girls
And hang up their underwear
To dry quickly
In cool, blue bathrooms.


Once I sat on the steps by a gate at David's Tower,
I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists
was standing around their guide and I became their target marker. "You see
that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there's an arch
from the Roman period. Just right of his head." "But he's moving, he's moving!"
I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them,
"You see that arch from the Roman period? It's not important: but next to it,
left and down a bit, there sits a man who's bought fruit and vegetables for his family."







Passport   by Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008)

They did not recognize me in the shadows
that suck away my face color in the passport.
To them my wound was an exhibit
like tourists who love to take photographs.
They did not recognize me.
Hi, don't leave
my hand's palm without sun, so the trees
can recognize me.
The songs of the rains recognize me
Don't leave me like a pale moon!


All the birds that followed my palm
to the doors of the distant airport
All the wheatfields
All the prisons
All the white tombs
All the wired borders
All the waved handkerchiefs
All the eyes
Were with me,
But they dropped them from my passport.


Stripped of my name and what I am?
On soil I nourished with my own hands?
Right now Job is screaming from the sky:
"Donít take me again as an example!"
Oh gentlemen and Prophets,
Don't ask the trees for their names
Don't ask the valleys who their mother is.
From my forehead bursts the sword of light
and from my hand springs the water of the river...
All the hearts of the people are my identity.
So go ahead and take my passport.








Moments   by Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

If I were able to live my life again,
I would try to make more mistakes,
I would not try to be so perfect
and try to be more relaxed.
I would be more foolish than I've been
and try to take few things seriously
I would be less hygienic.
I would take more risks,
and I would also take more vacations,
contemplate more sunsets,
climb more mountains, swim more rivers.
I would go to more places where I've never been,
I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans,
I would have more real problems and less imaginary ones

I was one of those people that lived sensibly
and prolifically each minute of his life;
Of course I had moments of happiness.
If I could go back I would try
to have only good moments.

Because if you didn't know, of that is life made:
only of moments; Don't lose the now.

I was one of those that never
went anywhere without a thermometer,
a hot-water bottle,
an umbrella, and a parachute;
If I could live again, I would travel lighter.
If I could live again,
I would begin to walk barefoot from the beginning of spring
and I would continue barefoot until autumn ends.
I would take more cart rides,
contemplate more dawns,
and play with more children,
If I had another life ahead of me.

But I am 85,
and I know that I am going to die.







Ithaca   by Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933)

As you set out for Ithaca
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon- don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon- you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.


Translated by Edmund Keeley/ Phillip Sherrard







The Traveller   by Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Byways and bygone
And lone nights long
Sun rays and sea waves
And star and stone


Manless and friendless
No cave my home
This is my torture
My long nights, lone







We And They   by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Father, Mother, and Me,
Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
And every one else is They.
And They live over the sea,
While We live over the way,
But-would you believe it?-They look upon We
As only a sort of They!
We eat pork and beef
With cow-horn-handled knives.
They who gobble Their rice off a leaf
Are horrified out of Their lives;
And They who live up a tree,
And feast on grubs and clay,
(Isn't it scandalous?) look upon We
As a simply disgusting They!
We shoot birds with a gun.
They stick lions with spears.
Their full-dress is un-.
We dress up to Our ears.
They like Their friends for tea.
We like Our friends to stay;
And, after all that, They look upon We
As an utterly ignorant They
We eat kitcheny food.
We have doors that latch.
They drink milk or blood,
Under an open thatch.
We have Doctors to fee.
They have Wizards to pay.
And (impudent heathen!) They look upon We
As a quite impossible They!
All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They!