Advent Poems 6: An Arab Shepherd is Searching for His Goat on Mount Zion

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.

Yehuda Amichai, translated by Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell, from The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai (University of California Press, 1996)


  1. Thank you. I didn’t know some of the references so had to go off to look up Had Gadya – then spent a pleasant five minutes googling the significance of the goat in Judaism. Poetry that reveals our common humanity, fears and dreams together with top quality procrastination activities for a Friday morning – excellent stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

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