We arrrived in Israel to the news, sad but not shocking, that the poet Haim Hefer had drawn his last breath, at 86.
The news filled the front page of the mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot. Also pages 2, 3 and 4. Plus the cover of the culture section and a two page splash within.
photo: (c) Avigail Uzi/ynetnews
Hefer wrote the words to many popular songs and was one of the last surviving cultural voices of the 1948 independence war. Neither the state president nor the prime minister paid respects: the poet had been too rude about them. He once called Shimon Peres ‘a rising flea’.
Whatever the politicians thought, Hefer was widely loved and the coverage reflected his popularity. It made me wonder which other country would mourn a poet’s death so effusively.
Ireland, for Seamus Heaney, perhaps. Sweden, maybe, for Tomas Transtromer. Russia for Yevtushenko? Anyone else?