Tourists by Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000)
Visits of condolence is all we get from them.
They squat at the
They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall
laugh behind heavy curtains
In their hotels.
They have their pictures
Together with our famous dead
At Rachel's Tomb and Herzl's
And on Ammunition Hill.
They weep over our sweet boys
after our tough girls
And hang up their underwear
To dry quickly
cool, blue bathrooms.
Once I sat on the steps by a gate at David's
I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists
standing around their guide and I became their target marker. "You see
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
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
I would not try to be so perfect
and try to be more
I would be more foolish than I've been
and try to take few things
I would be less hygienic.
I would take more risks,
would also take more vacations,
contemplate more sunsets,
mountains, swim more rivers.
I would go to more places where I've never
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
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
Because if you didn't know, of that is life made:
moments; Don't lose the now.
I was one of those that never
anywhere without a thermometer,
a hot-water bottle,
an umbrella, and a
If I could live again, I would travel lighter.
If I could live
I would begin to walk barefoot from the beginning of spring
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
Ithaca by Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933)
As you set out for
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon- don't be afraid of
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
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope the voyage is a long one.
there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
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
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge
from their scholars.
Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca
to make you rich.
Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
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
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!
Poems of the Journey's End by Leah Goldberg (1911-1970)
The road is so beautiful - said the teen.
the road is so rough - said the gent.
The road is so lengthy - said the man.
The elder sat by the wayside to rest.
Twilight dyes his hoariness gilt and ruby,
The lawn shines at his feet with the evening dew,
Over his head, the final bird of the day is chanting-
Do you remember how beautiful , how rough, how lengthy was your way?
You used to say: day follows day, night follows night.
Here days are coming - you said in your heart.
You saw dusks and sunrises at your window
and thought: There is nothing new under the sun.
Once you have become old and hoary,
And your days have become few and precious.
You knew: every day is like the last under the sun.
You knew: every day is new under the sun.
Teach me, God, to pray and to praise
the secret of a faded leaf, the shiny ripe pear,
this freedom: to see, to feel, to smell,
to know, to long, to fail.
Teach my lips devotion and a song of praise
At your renewed times - every night and day,
So as not to be like all my yesterdays,
So as not to be accustomed to my day-to-day.
Translated by Yaniv Belhassen