My Father's Death Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Initially included in his first volume of poetry, Akshav u-ve-yamim aherim, the deftly concise but remarkably incisive poem “My Father’s Death” deals with one of Amichai’s most pervasive themes—the labyrinthine implications of death on the experience of life. The brilliant translation of the poem included by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav in their definitive retrospective, Yehuda Amichai: A Life of Poetry: 1948-1994, preserves the whimsical, childlike diction of the Hebrew version but also reveals a poem that is remarkably seasoned and deeply introspective.

Rhyme schemes are rare in Amichai’s poetry, which, generally speaking, is pointedly modernistic in its avoidance of traditional poetic devices. However, “My Father’s Death,” although ominous in theme, employs a series of rhymes, such as “places/ spaces,” “bow/ now,” “soon/ moon,” and “endeavor/ forever,” that are more evocative of Mother Goose than of William Carlos Williams. Nonetheless, the effect is both stunning and appropriate; Amichai masterfully uses a child’s language to disarm his readers of their adult defenses. He then proceeds to reinform those readers’ reckoning of one of life’s most tragic but inevitable experiences—the death of a father—in deft and startlingly perceptive terms. Of himself and his grownup siblings, all struggling to make sense of their father’s passing, the speaker remarks “We went to call [our father’s]...

(The entire section is 411 words.)

My Father's Death Bibliography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Abramson, Glenda, ed. The Experienced Soul: Studies in Amichai. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1997.

Abramson, Glenda The Writing of Yehuda Amichai: A Thematic Approach. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989.

Alter, Robert. After the Tradition: Essays on Modern Jewish Writing. New York: Dutton, 1969.

Alter, Robert. “Israel’s Master Poet.” The New York Times Magazine, June 8, 1986, 40.

Cohen, Joseph. Voices of Israel: Essays on and Interviews with Yehuda Amichai, A. B. Yehoshua, T. Carmi, Aharon Appelfeld, and Amos Oz. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.

Hirsch, Edward. “In Language Torn from Sleep.” The New York Times Book Review, August 3, 1986, pp. 14-15.

Hirsch, Edward. “At the White Heat.” In How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999.

Lapon-Kandelshein, Essi. To Commemorate the Seventieth Birthday of Yehuda Amichai: A Bibliography of His Work in Translation. Ramat Gan, Israel: Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature, 1994.

Publishers Weekly. Review of Open Closed Open, by Yehuda Amichai. (March 20, 2000): 71.

Williams, C. K. “Yehuda Amichai” (obituary). The New Republic (October 9, 2000): 28.