This article explores the limits of a thematic approach to the recovery of political modes of signification in statehood-generation poetry. I challenge, through a neo-Adornian perspective, the common view that statehood-generation poetry is either fundamentally apolitical or always aligned with normative statist/universalist positions. In the process I explore those aspects of Yehuda Amichai’s early work, collected in Shirim, 1948–1962, that were perceived as revolutionary and even dangerous. Through close readings of two lyric poems, “To the Full Severity of Compassion” and “I Want to Die in My Bed,” I demonstrate how biblical allusions and carefully crafted intertextual play work together with metaphor and other stylistic formations of verbal art to create a strong, if oblique or “negative,” critique of bellicose nationalism and to register an unequivocal protest against the valorization of militarism and triumphalist statism.


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pp. 180-196
Launched on MUSE
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