Yehuda Amichai was born in Wurzburg, Germany, on May 3, 1924, and emigrated with his family to Palestine in 1936. He later became a naturalized Israeli citizen. Although German was his native language, Amichai read Hebrew fluently by the time he moved to Palestine. He served in the Jewish Brigade of the British Army in World War II and fought with the Israeli defense forces in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Following the war, he attended Hebrew University to study Biblical texts and Hebrew literature, and then taught in secondary schools.
Amichai has published eleven volumes of poetry in Hebrew, two novels, and a book of short stories. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. His collections of poetry available in English include Open Closed Open (Harcourt Brace, 2000); The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai: Newly Revised and Expanded Edition (University of California Press, 1996); A Life of Poetry, 1948–1994 (HarperCollins, 1994); Even a Fist Was Once an Open Palm with Fingers (HarperPerennial, 1991); Poems of Jerusalem (Harper & Row, 1988); Great Tranquility: Questions and Answers (Harper & Row, 1983); Love Poems: A Bilingual Edition (Harper & Row, 1981); Time (Harper & Row, 1979); Amen (Harper & Row, 1977); Songs of Jerusalem and Myself (Harper & Row, 1973); and Poems (Harper & Row, 1969).
In 1982, Amichai received the Israel Prize for Poetry. He became a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1986. He lived in Jerusalem until his death on September 25, 2000.