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Topic: Chana Bloch

On Yehuda Amichai's "A Precise Woman"

We are often told that poetry is “what is lost in translation.” But if that is true, why has my greatest pleasure so often been the discovery of poems in translation, poems I can’t understand in the original which nonetheless I experience as “original”: that is, as authentic voices unlike any of the other voices I love?
“A Precise Woman” by Yehuda Amichai is ostensibly a portrait, in 17 unrhymed lines, of someone whose tightly cinched waist signals the separation of her worldly concerns into the upper and lower spheres. The poem itself imitates this division, its first eight lines describing the imposition of order and the last nine representing its dissolution. The woman’s short hair and penchant for tidying drawers emphasize her orderliness but her sensuality is revealed in “cries of passion” that evoke bird-calls.