ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Yehuda Amichai's "Near the Wall of a House"

Updated on March 27, 2020
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Poetry became my passion, after I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962.

Yehuda Amachai

Source

Introduction and Text of "Near a Wall of a House"

In Yehuda Amichai's "Near a Wall of a House," the speaker realizes and celebrates the immensity of a divine experience, in which he received "visions of God." This twelve-line poem, which offers many of the qualities of a versanelle*, masterfully increases its scope as it progresses through each tercet.

*Versanelle: a short, usually 12 lines or fewer, lyric that comments on human nature or behavior, and may employ any of the usual poetic devices (term coined by Linda Sue Grimes)

Near the Wall of a House

Near the wall of a house painted
to look like stone,
I saw visions of God.

A sleepless night that gives others a headache
gave me flowers
opening beautifully inside my brain.

And he who was lost like a dog
will be found like a human being
and brought back home again.

Love is not the last room: there are others
after it, the whole length of the corridor
that has no end.

Reading of Amichai's "Near the Wall of a House"

Commentary

This versanelle expands its focus through a divine realization, one begun in utterly humble circumstances.

First Tercet: Contrasting Claims

The speaker opens with a stirring contrast of claims. His somewhat unlikely location has offered him "visions" of the Divine. This inauspicious place is near a gray house with a wall. While not reporting the actual building material of which the house is contracted, the speaker does want his listener to know that the house's paint gives it a rock or stone-like appearance. The claim of seeing a divine vision against such rough material is jarring in its contrast.

This particular contrast between the artificiality of the house's appearance and the profound experience of intimations of the Divine could not be more intense. The claim resonates in the reader's consciousness as an enigmatic presence that begs resolution. Like a mystery story, it urges the mind to both contemplate and question simultaneously.

Second Tercet: Insomnia and Flowers

Unlike other people suffering long, dark nights of insomnia who have been left only with "a headache," this speaker avers that he was blessed with "flowers / opening beautifully inside [his] brain." His sleeplessness forced his mind to contemplate the "visions" and instead of leaving pain, these divine images transformed into natural beauty in the speaker's mind.

"Flowers," of course, is a metaphor that compares the fragrant beauty of envisioning the Celestial Reality to understanding and appreciating Its natural counterpart. A flower is a nearly perfect metaphor for God because it is also a nearly perfect symbol representing the Divine.

Third Tercet: Intuitive Appreciation

The incident of Divine Visualization has filled the speaker with the intuitive appreciation that human mercy exists, even in a place where a human being may become lost "like a dog."

Although the human experience may sometimes ape that of the lower mammals, the knowledge that the Divine Presence may appear at any time, because eternally omnipresent and omniscient, uplifts the human soul to hope, love, and faith: what was lost will be found "and brought back home again."

Fourth Tercet: Soul Expansiveness

The speaker then summarizes the importance of the divine visitation: despite the magnitude of human love, the speaker now realizes that it "is not the last room": the human soul does not stop at human love.

The soul in its expansiveness presents other "rooms," that is, other possibilities. And the most crucial awareness that the experience has afforded the speaker is that the soul, because united with the Divine eternally, is like "the whole length of the corridor / that has no end."

Readers who are interested in experiencing other poems by this poet may find this collection useful: The Selected Poetry Of Yehuda Amichai. This collection also includes "Near the Wall of a House.")

Portrait of Yehuda Amichai

Source

Life Sketch of Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai's poetry grew along with his adopted country. The poet left Germany as the Nazi power was rising. As an Israeli citizen, he became a freedom fighter.

Yehuda Amichai, Israel's best known poet, was born on May 3, 1924, in Würzburg, Germany. His family relocated to Eretz Israel in 1935. After graduating from high school, he enlisted and served in the British Army's Jewish Brigade in World War II and with the Palmach unit during the War of Independence in 1948.

Amichai studied at Hebrew University, where he majored in literature and Biblical Studies. After completing his university degree, he taught in several different academic institutions in Israel and abroad, including in the United States, where he served as visiting professor at the University of California, 1971 and again in 1976.

Amichai also served as a visiting poet at New York University in 1987. The poet has likely been "the most widely translated Hebrew poet since King David." Amichai's influence has been wide-spread and deep in the USA, where his readings continued to draw large audiences. His style has been considered quite accessible as was Robert Frost's, although his works include the use of many and varied poetic devices in Hebrew that remain untranslatable.

As an activist poet, Amichai began employing a colloquial style during the 1950s which departed from the traditional, classic verse yet proved to be quite successful for the poet's career. As he was influenced by W. H Auden and Dylan Thomas, Amichai has become a skillful craftsman, using all of the unique resources offered by the Hebrew language, including sounds, word association, levels of diction, and idiomatic expressions.

Amichai has also taken full advantage of the extensive Hebrew literary tradition of nearly three thousand years. Both his life and poetry have been deeply influenced by Israel's battle for existence. Amichai has quipped, "My personal history has coincided with a larger history. For me it's always been one and the same."

Amichai's poetry has included wide-ranging influence from students to world leaders: Yitzhak Rabin added in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech lines from the poet's widely anthologized poem, "God Has Pity on Kindergarten Children." Amichai has a been awarded numerous prizes for his poetry, which includes the 1982 Israel Prize. His literary reputation is based mainly on his eighty-plus collection of poetry.

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)