Favorite Yehuda Amichai Quotes

Over the course of researching “The Amichai Windows,” I found many Amichai quotes about poetry — writing it, reading it, and what poetry means to him. I have translated some of these from Hebrew sources, others were originally in English.

As Amichai told me when we met in Philadelphia in 1995:

“Love won’t save you from war but it can help you deal with the pain. Poetry can help, too. Words helped me to regain a balance in my life. You have to accept life on its own terms. If you try to fight it, you’ll break.”

Amichai in an English holograph, “I Write in Hebrew Because,” kept with Amichai’s papers at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University:

“I started writing poetry, using my words to come to terms with my life’s extremes and heal myself and go on living. I am very happy that the poems which have helped me to heal myself also help others. . . I strongly believe that art has to heal and comfort and not just present the cruel reality of our modern life in Israel and the world over.”

Amichai in an interview in the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, in 1965, entitled Between the Pen and the Paper:

“A poem is like a lullaby that you sing in order to calm yourself. There are poems that if I hadn’t written them, I would have been completely lost.”

Amichai in an interview with Esther Fuchs, Encounters With Israeli Authors:

Poetry is a release because “it helps me locate my pain and transform it into words. . . It is my instinctive way of touching a wound. It also organizes the world for me. It puts some order into the ongoing chaos. It gives me something to hold on to, ‘meaning,’ if you like.”

A fragment of a stone that says, "Amen," which Amichai treasured.

A fragment of a stone that says, “Amen,” which Amichai treasured. Photo by Assaf Harel with permission of Hana Amichai.

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