"Not like a Cypress" was first published in 1958 in Two Hopes Away, a collection of poems by Yehuda Amichai; it also appears in the 1996 collection The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai. The poem at first appears to be a work through which the speaker examines various facets of himself, describing himself first as what he is not and then providing a contrasting image that comes closer to what he is. The self that Amichai describes initially appears to be a personal description, but because he digs deeply into the truths about himself, the speaker touches the universal elements that make up all people.
Close reading of the poem reveals the element of death in it. Whether this poem was written as a reflection on the poet's own mortality or about his experiences with war and killing or the loss of his beloved father is not clear. The word "exit" is present in both the first and the last stanzas, so it is difficult to dismiss the theme of death or loss. That Amichai has hidden this theme, embedding it creatively so that readers must search for it, adds to the power of the poem.