Monday, December 04, 2006

King David Tomorrow!

I'll be speaking on King David and Jewish poetry tomorrow here in Chicago, at Congregation Rodfei Zedek on the South Side. I know an email announcing the talk just went out, with this blog address; for those of you just joining me, please excuse my testy post from yesterday. There's some history to it--not entirely happy, as you can imagine! I promise to be nice tomorrow night.

(Well, not too nice: we are talking about King David, my favorite bundle of contradictions. Whitman had nothing on David in the "containing multitudes" department.)

I have a fistful of relevant poems in hand, but if you read this and have suggestions--poems by Jewish poets that are either particularly Davidic, or that allude to David in some way--do send them along! I'm always looking for more.

Here's a favorite, rather wistful, by Yehuda Amichai:

Young David

After the first cheers
David returned to all the youths
and already the armored revelers
were so grown up.

With slaps on the shoulder, with a hoarse laugh.
And someone cursed and others
spit. But David was lonely
and felt for the first time there were no more Davids.

And suddenly he did not know where to put
Goliath's head that somehow he forgot
and still held by its locks.

Heavy and superfluous it now was
and the birds of blood that wandered far
again heard not, like him, the people shouting.

Or, in another translation (from here):

After the outburst of the first few hails
Young David went back to the waiting boys.
Already those who clattered their hard mails
Were so disarmingly mature and poised.

They formed the usual shoulder-slapping queue.
Some swore, some spat, laughed hoarsely, even cheered.
But David stood Alone. Henceforth he knew
There could not be another David here.

And suddenly he wondered where to put
Goliath`s head that his numb hands were yet,
Through sheer inertness, holding by the curls.

Now it was heavy and superfluous, Birds
Who flew into the bloodshot distance heard
No longer, as he did, the shouts and snarls.

1 comment:

myshkin2 said...


Ah David! Sorry to send something personal--but, alas, no email address to be found. A poem about David:

Oh David, Oj David

David was completely good
and noble. And for him
the evil inclination lacked power,
his very
nature opposed such evil-doing as
his pursuit
of Batsheba. It was God
himself who made him go
so he’d say to sinners, “Learn
from me how to repent.”
There was no gross murder or
adultery, only
extenuating circumstance, since
soldiers divorced
their wives right before entering
battle, invalid
only if they survived. And thus
Batsheba was free
after her husband fell (and he
fell for good reason.)
Batsheba was destined for David—
the long trial
beginning years before, when his
tossed dart missed the bird,
and broke the wicker screen behind
which she brushed her hair.

(It's actually 13 lines of 13 syllables, and thus #103 or a collection: 13(13 X 13)13

I normally don't send poems to Blogs--Myshkin2 (Leonard Kress)