Yehuda Amichai: A Modern Metaphysical Poet

David Fishelov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A comparative study of Amichai, one of Israel's leading poets (and the most translated one), and the English metaphysical poets of the 17th century, notably Donne, may help us to appreciate and to better understand Amichai's modernistic sensibilities. In my essay I focus on five levels of the poetic text shared by Amichai and Donne: (1) the extensive use of striking similes (the “metaphysical conceit”); (2) the tendency to elaborate on the similarities between the two dissimilar concepts introduced by the similes (the internal “rhetoric” of the simile); (3) the use of pseudo‐logical and pseudo‐causal formulations; (4) the creation of dramatic situations in which a specific speaker addresses a specific addressee (usually a woman) in a relatively specific type of communicative situation; and (5) the treatment of the tension between religious concepts and secular experience. These close affinities between Amichai and the metaphysical poets should not, however, cloud the significant differences between them. Instead, these shared poetic characteristics ultimately highlight the modernist nature of Amichai's poetry ‐ with its tendency for fragmentation, exploring man's internal world, and expressing an existential point of view.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)178-191
Number of pages14
JournalOrbis Litterarum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1992


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