Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000) is considered by many, both in Israel and internationally, to be Israel's greatest modern poet. Amichai published eleven volumes of poetry in Hebrew. His compilations were translated into numerous languages. He also published two novels, a collection of short stories, children's books, plays and radio plays. He was a pioneer in the use of colloquial Hebrew in poetry. Amichai received many literary prizes, among them the prestigious Bialik Award in 1976 and the Israel Prize in 1982.

Following are the notes written by Prof. Gershon Shaked, a renowned Israeli scholar of Hebrew literature, when the stamp was issued:

Yehuda Amichai was an individualistic poet who represents his generation. One of the main characters of his novel, "Not of this time, not of this place" said of himself "a person does not die alone and does not love alone: his generation was born with him and his generation is with him in death and love".

Amichai was the son of a traditional religious family that immigrated to Israel in 1936, from Germany, and since then lived in Jerusalem. He was involved in the major milestones of Israeli society: he served with the British Army's Jewish Brigade during World War II and was a fighter in the Palmach (the elite units of the Hagana) in the War of Independence. His traditional Jewish home, with its roots in Europe, and the deep connection with Israeli society and historical events of the period, greatly influenced his poetry.

In contrast to the sentimental poetry of the previous generation, Amichai successfully included in his poetry elements from both the traditional sources and daily life, and he introduced new rhythms to the poetic language. His poetry aptly expressed a tired and sad generation that had experienced seven wars and no longer felt uplifted.

Although he was born before the first generation of the State of Israel, he was a dominant personality of that generation. Paradoxically, this individualistic poet, who rebelled against social and literary collectivism, penetrated the hearts of many, more than any other poet, and was accepted by all the people. There were not only songs and poems reflecting the social experience, but also his Most intimate poems were adapted by the general public. They became the personal poems for future generations touching all different levels of the society.

Amichai was not only thought of as a great poet in his country but was also very popular in many other countries. He was undoubtedly the most translated poet in the history of Hebrew poetry. Although he was part of a sad and battered generation, he celebrated the immediate contact with life and being. Amichai perceived the world as an infinite field of erotic stimulants and he reacted to them in a tender poetic manner like a devoted lover. Amichai expressed a profound connection between his love of living and day to day life with his yearning for peace.

Amichai was not a political poet in the conventional sense but he continuously tried to understand the complicated world that we live in and reconcile between conflicting sides. He wrote in one of his peace poems "I, may I rest in peace -I, who am still living, say: may I have peace in the rest of my life... I don't want to fulfill my parents prophecy that life is war."

This yearning for peace accompanied him from the very beginning and was most significantly reflected in his life and poetry: "Men wear their first love and not battle decorations" (from "We loved here").

The stamp was issued in 2001. Designer: R. Hartman.