Monday, May 25, 2015

Yehuda Amichai: "I, May I Rest in Peace"

I, may I rest in peace—I, who am still living, say,
May I have peace in the rest of my life.
I want peace right now while I'm still alive.
I don't want to wait like that pious man who wished for one leg
of the golden chair of Paradise, I want a four-legged chair
right here, a plain wooden chair. I want the rest of my peace now.
I have lived out my life in wars of every kind: battles without
and within, close combat, face-to-face, the faces always
my own, my lover-face, my enemy-face.
Wars with the old weapons—sticks and stones, blunt axe, words,
dull ripping knife, love and hate,
and wars with newfangled weapons—machine gun, missile,
words, land mines exploding, love and hate,
I don't want to fulfill my parents' prophecy that life is war.
I want peace with all my body and all my soul.
Rest me in peace.

"I, May I Rest in Peace" by Yehuda Amichai. Text as published in Open Closed Open: Poems (Mariner Books, 2006 edition). Translated from the original Hebrew by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld. Reprinted here by permission of Chana Bloch.

Curator's note: a blogger for Haaretz, observes, "The `pious man' in the first stanza is from a Jewish folktale. He believed that in the world to come, he would sit on a golden chair. A prayer for just one leg of it to make ends meet in this world was granted, but then his wife worried that he would wobble uncomfortably on a three-legged chair for all eternity."

Thank you to subscriber Anita Gold for submitting this poem, with permission of Chana Bloch.

Art credit: Untitled image by unknown photographer.


  1. On a day after 19 children and two adults were murdered in an elementary school in an otherwise peaceful south Texas tow one wonders if peace exists anywhere for anyone.

  2. The news is a face-slapping machine. I respectfully suggest that you sometimes turn away for a little while.
    It’s not actually happening to you, and humans aren’t built for this much helpless sorrow.

  3. There's no running from reality. The best I can do is make time and space, as I am doing even now, to experience peace.


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