An Arab Shepherd: World Poetry Day

Today is UN World Poetry Day. The United Nations website comments: Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.

Fr Ian writes:Choices of favourite poems or poets change. Here on our church blog I’ve recently suggested two poems here and here. For World Poetry Day I offer a poem by the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai (1924 – 2000). His poetry frequently deals with deep questions in a simple way, often with irony.


An Arab Shepherd Is Searching For His Goat On Mount Zion

An Arab shepherd is searching for his goat on Mount Zion
And on the opposite hill I am searching for my little boy.
An Arab shepherd and a Jewish father
Both in their temporary failure.
Our two voices met above
The Sultan’s Pool in the valley between us.
Neither of us wants the boy or the goat
To get caught in the wheels
Of the “Had Gadya” machine.

Afterward we found them among the bushes,
And our voices came back inside us
Laughing and crying.

Searching for a goat or for a child has always been
The beginning of a new religion in these mountains.

(The “Had Gadya” machine refers to a playful song sung after the Passover seder about disasters coming on top of disasters, and here the poet uses the image to challenge the tit for tat between the Israelis and Palestinians.) 

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St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community where people of differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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