Saturday, April 15, 2017

God has pity

It was a column on India.

It started with a photograph of the synagogue in Cochin (Kochi) in Kerala.

I was tempted to ditch reading it--yet another writer having stumbled upon the coexistence of people of all faiths in my old country.  Some bromides.

But, I gave the writer the benefit of the doubt, only because I usually like his columns.

I am glad I did.

Not because of any insights there about the old country. Nope.  Not to this old country man.

I am glad because of the following that I read there:
My favorite Israeli poet is Yehuda Amichai. In his poem “Tourists” a guide points to a Roman arch in Jerusalem. Amichai writes: “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.’ ”
Such a simple message from a poet, right?  It is not about the arch from the Roman times.  It is about the people here and now, who are doing their best to provide their families with good lives.

The uninformed pretentious academic that I am, well, I have never heard of Amichai.  It is amazing how little I know.  It is a challenge not to let that feeling of ignorance overwhelm me into complete and total inaction.

Especially this being the month for poetry, I spent some time reading a few other poems by Amichai.  Which is how I ran into this, with which I will end this post.

God has pity on kindergarten children
By Yehuda Amichai

God has pity on kindergarten children,
He pities school children -- less.
But adults he pities not at all.

He abandons them,
And sometimes they have to crawl on all fours
In the scorching sand
To reach the dressing station,
Streaming with blood.

But perhaps
He will have pity on those who love truly
And take care of them
And shade them
Like a tree over the sleeper on the public bench.

Perhaps even we will spend on them
Our last pennies of kindness
Inherited from mother,
So that their own happiness will protect us
Now and on other days.

2 comments:

Ramesh said...

With all due respect, I fail to see anything notable at all in the "poem" you have featured.

I am not even an "uninformed pretentious academic" ; well I am certainly uninformed when it comes to poetry, but seriously ... !!

Sriram Khé said...

Maybe poetry too, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder?
I used to have serious problems with poems that didn't seem to have the old-style rhyming schemes. Even now, I have some discomfort. But, I like many poems of this style too.

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