This article explores the attitude of Israeli poet Dahlia Ravikovitch (1936–2005) to the Other by considering, side-by-side, one of her poems, "The Viking," and a little known episode in her life, which though brief was, as it turns out, quite important for Ravikovitch: her voluntary work, in 1964, at the Chicago-based residential school for autistic children run by the famous psychologist, Bruno Bettelheim.
The poem reflects on the self's relation to the Other from the complex perspective of simultaneous alienation and identification. This position reproduces Ravikovitch's attitude toward Bettelheim whom she adopted as an authoritative father figure yet also rebelled against. Published in 1967, the poem "The Viking" is revealed to be in praise of difference and the aristocratic nature of trauma, anticipating Ravikovitch's political poetry (which came to the fore after the first Lebanon War in 1982), by exposing the deep ethical commitment of her work.
The "intended misidentification" of the Other—as a Viking, in this case—is explored here as a unique poetic device used by Ravikovitch to challenge conventional categories and to protest against oppressive systems.