Gilboa, Amir

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GILBOA, AMIR (1917–1984), Israeli poet. Born in Radzywilow, Volhynia, Gilboa went to Palestine in 1937, working initially as a laborer. He began to publish poetry while serving in the Jewish Brigade during World War ii. The accent on linguistic sensitivity in the 1940s prompted Gilboa to abandon flowery rhetoric, but he nevertheless preserved the multilevel allusions inherent in this style. His poetry with its developed lyrical sense and complex structure speaks with compassion, and his blending of personal and national motifs is reminiscent of Bialik. Gilboa sensitively and at times enigmatically describes the feelings of the individual within the crowd in a surrealistic dream atmosphere. These feelings range from the fear and expectation of the apocalypse to an expression of wild and childlike joy. A similar atmosphere distinguishes his poems about biblical characters, but the aura of nightmare is present as the landscapes and figures of his childhood and youth are darkened by the Holocaust and the death of his relatives. Gilboa's use of various levels of language without the perspective of distance or irony draws him into a confrontation with the primordial element in Hebrew poetry, particularly the Psalms. His confidence in his own personal vision enables him to create poems wherein ancient words and experiences are suffused with wonder and freshness. The same compassion that typifies his attitude toward human beings is also seen in Gilboa's relationship with trees and plants, their tactile values and biological vitality replacing human attributes. He received the Israel Prize in 1982 for Hebrew poetry.

Gilboa's four volumes of poetry are Le'ut ("Fatigue," 1942);Sheva Rashuyyot (1949);Shirim ba-Boker ba-Boker (1953); Keḥulim va-Adumim (1963); and "Raẓiti Likhtov Siftei Yesheinim" (1968). His Collected Works appeared in 1987. Selected poems in English translation appeared under the title The Light of Lost Suns (1979). Warren Bargad wrote a study in English entitled To Write the Lips of Sleepers: The Poetry of Amir Gilboa (1994). For English translations of his works, see Goell, Bibliography, 24.


D. Tsalka (ed.), Amir Gilboa: Mivḥar Shirim u-Devarim al Yeẓirato (1962); Sachs, in: S. Burnshaw et al. (eds.), The Modern Hebrew Poem Itself (1965), 136–47. add. bibliography: H. Be'er, "Shirat Ish Yehudi," in: Moznayim, 29 (1969), 236–40; A. Balaban, Amir Gilboa, Mivḥar Ma'amrei Bikkoret al Yeẓirato (1972); L. Hakak, Darkhei Irgun be-Ḥarizah ḥofshit ba-Shirah ha-Ivrit ha-Modernistit: Iyyunim be-Shirim shel Ben Yitzhak, Gilboa. Zach ve-Zamir (1974); H. Barzel, "Temurot be-Shirat A. Gilboa," in: Moznayim, 40 (1975), 379–94; S. Sandbank, in: Davar (Oct. 14, 1977); L. Barak, Ha-Tashtitba-Shir ha-Ḥadash lefi Shirei Amir Gilboa, T. Ruebner ve-Y. Amichai (1978); A. Lipsker, "Mivneh u-Mashma'ut be-Shirat A. Gilboa," in: Biẓaron, 24–25 (1985), 17–32; H. Barzel, Amir Gilboa, Monografyah (1985); A. Balaban, "A. Gilboa," in: Ha-Do'ar, 63, 38 (1985), 637–39; Y. Haefrati, "Al Shenei Shirim shel A. Gilboa," in: Alon la-Moreh le-Sifrut, 12 (1991), 33–50; E. Zoritte, Ha-Ḥayyim, ha-Aẓilut: Perakim Biografiyim ve-Iyyunim ba-Markivim ha-Kabbaliyim-Ḥasidiyyim shel Shirat Amir Gilboa (1988); M. Fruchtman, "How Do I know that You Mean what You Mean when You State: You Mean what I Mean. Two Linguistic Models of Modern Hebrew Poetry," in: Language and Style, 24:1 (1991), 91–102; H. Shaham, Hedim shel Niggun (1997); Y. Abrabanel, Lada'at Me'ayin u-Le'an: Iyyun ba-Koveẓa ha-Kol Ḥolekh Le-Amir Gilboa (2001); D. Laor, "Prodigal Sons: Desertion and Reconciliation in Contemporary Israeli Writing," in: Midstream, 50:4 (2004), 33–37.

[Dan Tsalka]

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Gilboa, Amir

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