On The Bridge

Poems 1962-2000

By Reuven Ben-Yosef

208 pages in Hebrew and English
Photograph on the cover by: Reva Sharon
Cover by: Adam Propp 972-57-5843804
Translations from the Hebrew to English: E. Kam-Ron, Shira Twersky-Cassel, Reuven Ben-Yosef, Yehudit Ben-Yosef, Curt Arnson, Michael Weingrad.
Printed in 2011
On The Bridge is a very fitting title for this collection of seventy-two poems. Reuven Ben-Yosef's poetry indeed bridges worlds: Biblical and modern-day; sacred and secular; dream and wakefulness; war and peace; the world of lyrical poetry and of colloquial idiom.
These powerful poems are rich with imagistic detail; some have a compelling intensity; some display Ben-Yosef's wry humor.
Reuven Ben-Yosef's profound simplicity, delicacy, deep sensitivity, warmth and the pain of his relationships with his family are especially manifest in "Letters to America".
Zionest pioneer, IDF soldier, man of the world, Ben-Yosef is also a mystic. Two of the most outstanding poems, "Vaychaneni" and "The Chapter" embrace mysticism in its most lyrical form. "The Chapter" beautifully sums up the entire volume; this poem is a metaphor for the book , which itself is like a concrete bridge: "Like a concrete bridge constructed to stand / Above a permanent stream….All that is still possible, is to go / Across in purity, / From shore to shore above the infinite flow, / Until one hundred and twenty".
Much praise is due to the fine team of poets, E. Kam-Ron, Shira Twersky-Cassel, Yehudit Ben-Yosef, Reuven Ben-Yosef, Curt Arnson and Michael Weingrad for undertaking the formidable task of translating On The Bridge and making it accessible to the English-speaking public. I highly recommend On The Bridge and its excellent translation.
Ruth Fogelman, author of Jerusalem Awaking, Cradled in God's Arms

I have been astonished by these poems by Reuven Ben-Yosef, and I am drawn to read them again and again. The title of this collection, On The Bridge, is so exactly right, because these poems are indeed bridges. They are bridges to his family whom he left behind when he and his wife moved to Israel. Bridges to his new land and his ancestral religion. Bridges to his heartfelt passion for his people and his deep love for his wife and children. Bridges across the wars in which he fought with courage and a poet's sensitivity. And these amazing poems become bridges to the readers.
Reuven Ben-Yosef not only learned Hebrew, but became a master of the language. It is truly wonderful to have both the original Hebrew poems and the English translations on facing pages. The complexities of the Hebrew he wrote cannot be translated. But the translators must be congratulated for bringing alive the imagery and the heart and soul of these remarkable poems. Each time I read them I am left breathless.
Reva Sharon author of Pool of the Morning Wind, whose poems have been published widely in anthologies and journals.

Excerpt

In the Room Where I was Learning


In the room where I was learning no daylight shone.
Amid the closed curtains a dusk was spread
Across the firmament of the letters and
My wandering, reeling head.

A shack in a grove of pines, which the sun
Drew up all day with green sparkles -
I could not hear the song of their ascent
As I climbed into darkness.

At night the pines mourned for the loss of day
Till they slept, exhausted by their laments,
While I still woke and wandered. Excess of light
Darkened the pages' radiance.

Till an uncounted hour arrived, and I too
Rested, in the silent wakeful way
A tree rests, waiting in the expanding light,
Waiting for day.

16/05/1963
Translation by E. Kam-Ron



The Chapter


A chapter with one more story came and asked
If it could still be included,
But the pages were numbered, the time for changes past.
Its voice remained muted.

Just when the order of the book was all set,
The author, that bitter man,
Recalled that sweetest chapter - how could he forget? -
It was not in the plan.

Like a concrete bridge constructed to stand
Above a permanent stream,
To make it longer even by a span
You wouldn't dream.

All that is still possible, is to go
Across in purity,
From shore to shore above the infinite flow,
Until one hundred and twenty.

17/08/2000
Translation by E. Kam-Ron