Monday, September 26, 2011

Sabbath lie

Sabbath Lie

By Yehuda Amichai

Translated By Glenda Abramson and Tudor Parfitt

On Friday, at twilight of a summer day
While the smells of food and prayer rose from every house
And the sound of the Sabbath angels’ wings was in the air,
While still a child I started to lie to my father:
“I went to another synagogue.”

I don’t know if he believed me or not
But the taste of the lie was good and sweet on my tongue
And in all the houses that night
Hymns rose up along with lies
To celebrate the Sabbath.
And in all the houses that night
Sabbath angels died like flies in a lamp,
And lovers put mouth to mouth,
Blew each other up until they floated upward,
Or burst.

And since then the lie has been good and sweet on my tongue
And since then I always go to another synagogue.
And my father returned the lie when he died:
“I’ve gone to another life.”
It is not often that I find older poets who speak against religion, especially in such a beautiful way. The last five lines of the middle stanza do not need to be analyzed to be breathtaking, which is what I often find I like about poems. This poem holds up whether I read it for imagery and the play of words or if I read it for deeper meaning. That is why I find it beautiful.

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