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Hold the front page: a poet has died

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?



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  1. It was many years ago, and I was but a wee child, but I remember America’s mourning Robert Frost.

  2. Bronte Woodruff says:

    MAHMOUD DARWISH… the much loved and mourned Palestinian poet

  3. The U.S. would probably honor Maya Angelou.

    • No, thank you, to Maya Angelou, although the current President and specific groups would doubtless revere her as if she were Auden. To me, she is highly over-rated, with just soooooo much compassion for everyone and everything, and takes herself far too seriously. Where o where is Christopher Smart when you need him?

      • Parlez vous Francais. Maya Angelou, yet to bid farewell to this world, speaks the language of the 21st century and she is beloved by those people as was Haim Heffer to Hebrew speaking people. She’s today’s Shakespeare,a gracious real lady who speaks the language of her people. Maya Angelou will be treated as royalty, as are the other’s of her heritage who overcame the odds and spoke with a voice that to whichvox populae could relate to. both Auden an Smart were originally English. All genius’s, but respect expected for Auden and Smart, unlike Angelou .

        • With all due respect, Maya Angelou is certainly not today’s Shakespeare. She is ,also, not comparable to Auden. The sole genius mentioned in this paragraph is Shakespeare. We, simply, must retrieve our standards. In truth, she is not all her PR has drawn her to be. Sorry.

  4. Canada’s Leonard Cohen and America’s Bob Dylan will recieve many accolades upon their demise to….and isn’t it funny that they are all Jews, so let’s not forget Paul Simon.

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