Yonathan, Nathan

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YONATHAN, NATHAN (1923–2004), Hebrew poet. Yonathan was born in Kiev, in the Ukraine, came to Israel as a child, and grew up in kibbutz Givat ha-Sheloshah and later in Petaḥ Tikvah. For nearly 40 years he lived in kibbutz Sarid and later in Tel Aviv. He studied Hebrew and general literature, taught in high schools and at university, and was for many years chief editor of Sifriat Po'alim Publishing House and a member of the board of directors of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Yonathan began publishing poetry in 1940 and his first collection Shevilei Afar ("Paths of Dust") appeared in 1951. This was followed by some 20 collections, including El ha-Nirim ha-Aforim ("Unto the Furrows Grey," 1954), Shirim be-Arov ha-Yam ("Poems at Sea Dusk," 1972), Ḥofim ("Shores," 1983), and Shirim be-Ahavah ("Poems with Love," 1990). Yonathan was one of the most popular Hebrew poets, not least because so many of his poems were set to music (For instance, Ḥofim, Yesh Peraḥim, Ne'esaf Tishrei, Shenei Alonim). His lyrical verse, describing the nature and landscape of Ereẓ Israel, the sea, the rivers, the fauna and flora, is associated with the best of "Israeliness." The private self is nonetheless present in many of Yonathan's poems. Particularly moving are the poems of loss and bereavement he wrote after the death of his son Lior on the first day of the Yom Kippur War ("Poems to Lior," 1974). Yonathan also wrote prose and four books for children, including Bein Aviv le-Anan ("Between Spring and Cloud," 1959) and Lilakh mi-Kevuẓat Ilanot ("Lilach of the Ilanot Group," 1963). He received many prizes, including the Bialik Prize and the Brenner Prize. An English collection titled Stones in the Darkness appeared in 1975. Individual poems have been translated into diverse languages and information concerning translation is available at the ithl website, www.ithl.org.il.


A. Feinberg, in: Al ha-Mishmar (November 1, 1974); Sh. Levo, "Bein Melaḥ le-Or," in: Davar (December 18, 1980); E. Sharoni, "Meditative Minstrel of Water Music: Of 'Poems This Far' by N. Yonathan," in: Modern Hebrew Literature, 5:4 (1980), 33–36; A. Hermoni, "Havanat ha-Shir be-Millim u-vi-Temunot," in: Alei Siaḥ, 21–22 (1984), 72–78; Z. Luz, Shirat N. Yonathan, Monografiyah (1986); H. Barzel, "N. Yonathan: Tugah ve-Ahavah," in: Moznayim, 64:9–10 (1990), 24–32; Sh. Yaniv, Ha-Baladot shel N. Yonathan, in: Tura 2 (1992), 152–159; Sh. Bakshi, in: Bi-Sedeh Ḥemed 47 (2004), 95–98.

[Anat Feinberg (2nd ed.)]