“My heart is astir with gracious words; I speak my poem to a king; my tongue is the pen of an expert scribe.” Psalms 45:2 (The Israel Bible™)
Famous Israeli poet, Haim Gouri passed away at the age of 94, Israeli media reported on Wednesday. Gouri was no ordinary writer and not just a contributor in the art of poetry but also assumed a major role in the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.
“Gouri was one of the greatest poets of the generation of 1948, and accompanied the revival of our people in its land,” noted Israeli Culture Minister, Miri Regev.
“My heart is saddened by the bitter news about the death of Haim Guru,” she continued. “He was and will remain forever one of the ‘flowers of fire’ of our national revival in the State of Israel.”
Regev’s description of Gouri as a “flower of fire” was a reference to his first complete volume of poetry, Flowers of Fire, which was published in 1949, right after Israel’s War of Independence.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1923, Gouri grew up in the pre-state Jewish community in the British mandate of Palestine and was an active participant in bringing about the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel.
The year before Israel’s independence, Gouri went to Europe in order to help Holocaust survivors return to Israel. He also took an active role in making Israel’s independence a reality by joining the ranks of the pre-state Palmach militia and fighting in the War of Independence.
Gouri also propelled Israel’s national spirit forward through poetry during the growing pains in the early years of the country’s rebirth. He composed poems making honorable mention of fallen soldiers in the War of Independence, such as Ha’Reut, written in 1949 and Here our Bodies Lie in recognition of the “company of 35.”
Gouri also helped in the resettlement of the Biblical Heartland in Judea and Samaria. Not only did he fight again in the Six Day War (1967) and the Yom Kippur War (1973) but he also helped establish the Movement for Greater Israel. The organization called for Israelis to resettle the territories liberated in the Six Day War.
With his numerous contributions to Israel’s founding and continuous growth thereafter, it’s no wonder that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin referred to him after his passing as “the national poet of our times, a national symbol and a source of national pride.”