An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on Mount Zion
And on the opposite hill I am searching for my little boy.
An Arab shepherd and a Jewish father
Both in their temporary failure.
Our two voices met above
The Sultan’s Pool in the valley between us.
Neither of us wants the boy or the goat
To get caught in the wheels
Of the “Had Gadya” machine.
Afterward we found them among the bushes,
And our voices came back inside us
Laughing and crying.
Searching for a goat or for a child has always been
The beginning of a new religion in these mountains.
(Today’s poem is in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears here today accordingly.)
Yehuda Amichai: (1924–2000) is recognized as one of Israel’s finest poets. His poems—written in Hebrew—have been translated into forty languages, and entire volumes of his work have been published in English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, and Catalan. Translator Robert Alter has said: “Yehuda Amichai, it has been remarked with some justice, is the most widely translated Hebrew poet since King David.” Amichai’s translations into English have been particularly popular, and his imaginative and accessible style has opened up Hebrew poetry to American and English readers (Annotated biography of Yehuda Amichai courtesy of The Poetry Foundation, with edits.)
Editor’s Note: Yehuda Amichai is one of the best poets to come out of the Middle East in the last 4,000+ years. His work speaks for itself with its lyric, accessible language and narrative style. He often used his voice to advocate for peace and to remind us of our shared humanity, which is exactly what today’s poem does.