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Memorial Day For The War Dead Analysis



Author: poem of Yehuda Amichai Type: poem Views: 17

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Memorial day for the war dead.  Add now

the grief of all your losses to their grief,

even of a woman that has left you.  Mix

sorrow with sorrow, like time-saving history,

which stacks holiday and sacrifice and mourning

on one day for easy, convenient memory.



Oh, sweet world soaked, like bread,

in sweet milk for the terrible toothless God.

"Behind all this some great happiness is hiding."

No use to weep inside and to scream outside.

Behind all this perhaps some great happiness is hiding.



Memorial day.  Bitter salt is dressed up

as a little girl with flowers.

The streets are cordoned off with ropes,

for the marching together of the living and the dead.

Children with a grief not their own march slowly,

like stepping over broken glass.



The flautist's mouth will stay like that for many days.

A dead soldier swims above little heads

with the swimming movements of the dead,

with the ancient error the dead have

about the place of the living water.



A flag loses contact with reality and flies off.

A shopwindow is decorated with

dresses of beautiful women, in blue and white.

And everything in three languages:

Hebrew, Arabic, and Death.



A great and royal animal is dying

all through the night under the jasmine

tree with a constant stare at the world.



A man whose son died in the war walks in the street

like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb.

"Behind all this some great happiness is hiding."






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

This poem refers to Yom HaZikaron, the Israeli Memorial Day, not the American one. Yehuda Amichai is a (male) naturalized Israeli citizen.
"...which stacks holiday and sacrifice and mourning
on one day" refers to the fact that (in Israel), Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day are all within a few days of each other. The holiday being Independence Day, the sacrifice being Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the mourning being Memorial Day.
"Oh, sweet world soaked..." is a reference to tears, shed for the war dead. Yehuda follows this up with both direct references to weeping and the "bitter salt". "Children with a grief not their own..." In Israel, virtually all 18-year-old men and women go into mandatory army service. Children are raised with this in mind, and seeing the dead is a frightening precursor to what may happen to them. A dead soldier swims above little heads/ with the swimming movements of the dead"... Jewish funerals are not like American ones. Jews in Israel are generally buried wrapped in a white sheet only, not a coffin-- the body is passed from the place of shiva (like a funeral) to burial like someone swimming above the heads of the people below. Among the crowd, all you can see are the heads of the people within. "A flag loses contact with reality and flies off./ A shopwindow is decorated with
dresses of beautiful women, in blue and white.
And everything in three languages:
Hebrew, Arabic, and Death." This stanza is filled with double meaning. The dresses in the window are blue and white-- the colors of the Israeli flag, which has flown off. Israel's official languages are Hebrew and Arabic, with the constant language of conflict and war in Death.
Behind all of this pain and death, perhaps something better will arrive. After all, it was after the Holocaust that the State of Israel was formed. After the Memorial Day comes Independence Day. Yehuda Amichai is a lovely poet, one of my favorites. Unfortunately it seems that others need to do a bit of research before analyzing poems with such deep historical and cultural detail.

| Posted on 2010-05-05 | by a guest


.: :.

Poem Name: Memorial Day for the War Dead
Poet: Yehuda Amichai
From the title of this poem, you can already tell that it is related to my theme especially because of the two words “Memorial Day”. Memorial day is the day most people in some states in the USA come together in the memory of the armed forces of all wars. This means that because of the war many people were dead and the poet was probably writing this poem of the last Monday of May (the day memorial days happen) which is what made it such a strong poem. I chose this poem because of its rhythm. The rhythm in this poem is what attracted my attention which is what made me want to read and understand it. By the end, I was sure it would be a great poem to use for my L.A anthology.
The beat of the flow of the poem as I read it out loud was what pulled me towards understanding its analysis. I began to read through asking myself why the poet started new lines at the weirdest moments. Could it be because the lines were getting too long? Probably not. When she writes “Memorial day for the war dead. Add now” and then skips to a new line writing “the grief of all your losses to their grief”. In my opinion, in addition to the rhythm, I think the poet is trying to show depression or sadness. I think it adds a special effect and brings the reader more into the poem, dragging them along. Why would the poet write “like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb”. In my opinion I think she is adding sensory image and creating an illusion in the readers mind with the strong vocabulary and descriptions. For example she used the word “embryo” instead of baby and “womb” instead of stomach to create a picture frame in the readers mind. For the analysis of the story, when the poet writes “Oh, sweet world soaked, like bread,
in sweet milk for the terrible toothless God.” I thought of the soaked world being the blood dashing everywhere after a war (knowing it was a war from the title) as well as the sweet milk. In my opinion, the toothless god meant the god was swallowing them upward with the soft bright light after they died, but him being toothless since it was so gentle and the dead person would be in rest. Then, why would the word terrible be there? I think that the poet used the word terrible since he was in sorrow for the deaths and it was memorial day when he wrote this. When the author wrote “‘Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.’” While she was referring to heaven, that the happiness was the all the dead people were now in rest and had nothing left to worry about. When it is written that “A dead soldier swims above little heads/ with the swimming movements of the dead” I think that it means the dead soldiers full of blood are flower in the stream of each others blood after such a horrific war. The “little heads” are the heads that were probably cut of during the war now floating all over the place. “with the ancient error the dead have/ about the place of the living water.” This proves that there was a blood shed since by saying about the place of living water means it was so much that it could seem like another resource, and she compared it to a liquid we have plenty of, water. I was confused at the line that wrote “Hebrew, Arabic and Death”. I tried to search for what it could be symbolizing but found nothing. I thought that maybe the war had to do something with the Jewish dying, but this line challenged me, which I liked, although was never able to figure it out. On the second to last stanza, my thoughts got weird, although it may be a good idea to still share them. I thought that the great and royal animal WAS the jasmine tree and that its roots were what were dying from underneath, which could be the symbol for love which was fading away because of the blood all over the ground caused by fighting. I thought maybe the author was trying to convince us to stop war and stick to peace to keep the beauty still available until I read the last line of the poem “’behind all this is some great happiness hiding” which confused me a little. The author also used hyperbole or exaggeration when he wrote “A man whose son died in the war walks in the street/ like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb.” And I think it meant that all the father could do was hold the tears inside like a pregnant mother had to hold her baby in for a long period of time.
After reading and trying to analyze this attractive poem, I read it over and over again mad that I had left some things still unanswered in my mind. That although was what made me like the poem. Once again, this poem is related to my theme because the family of the people that died are struggling to hold in the pain of losing some one which was caused by violence in a war.

| Posted on 2010-01-31 | by a guest




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