Natan Yonatan was born in Kiev in 1923, and came to Mandatory Palestine in 1925. His writing, written between 1940 and his death in 2004, straddles the line between poetry and song lyrics, and I'm not to exert to say how one knows the difference. About 200 of his poems became Shirim.
His oldest son, Lior, was killed in the Yom Kippur War.
Shir Eretz tells of the love for the land, and its price.
A land which eats its residents
and flows with milk and honey and the blue sky
somethimes even it itself plunders
sheep of the poor.
A land sweetened by its clods
and all its shores are salty as weeping
that gave it its lovers
all that they could give.
The white sqill/sea onion comes back to bloom
there on the single road
and the jasmine will bring back the scent
of its lost fields of time.
A land sweetened...
All of spring its ragworts return
to cover all the wrinkles of its face
the summer wind will be stroke its rocks' sadness
in the light.
The autumn returns with the weight of its clouds
to cover in gray all of its gardens
and the winter will close all those whom
its weeping eyes watch over.
Sasha Argov wrote the music. Here's Chava Alberstein singing Shir Eretz
And here's Ora Zitner
Here's a recent recording, by Marina Maximilian Blumin. The best shirim never die, they just get recorded again. Marina was born 13 years after Lior was killed; she came from the Ukraine, just like Natan Yonatan.