Natalie Portman’s favorite (Jewish) poems

[Credit: Instagram/Natalie Portman]

It seems like there is truly nothing iconic Israeli actress Natalie Portman can’t do. When she’s not acting, producing or directing, she can be found whipping up a gourmet Israeli breakfast or posting monthly book picks to her Instagram. Most recently, she became a New York Times bestseller with her picture book: Natalie Portman’s Fables. She was also the honorary chair of this year’s National Library Week (April 4–10 2021). 

Naturally, Portman is also a lover of poetry. 

“Poetry has saved me at so many points in my life,” she wrote on an Instagram post in 2018.

In honor of National Poetry Month (April) here are some of her favorite poems she’s recommended over the years.

The Place Where We Are Right by Yehuda Amichai

“One of my favorite Amichai poems for #worldpoetryday,” Portman shared on her Instagram this March.

Summer Snow by Robert Hass

In October 2020 Portman shared, “This feels like a time for poetry. And luckily, one of my favorite poets has a new book out. So looking forward to Summer Snow by California’s Robert Hass.”

Natalie Portman’s Fables

We had to share a bit from Portman’s own book, which compiles retellings of The Tortoise and the Hare, The Three Little Pigs, and Country Mouse and City Mouse. “I love these classic stories and wanted to update them to be more reflective of the world in which we live,” she shared in an Instagram post. “I wrote this book, Natalie Portman’s Fables, because I wanted classic tales both my kids would read that would inspire empathy. Reading books as a kid, in which animals had feelings and thoughts and ideas, gave me empathy for animals because I imagined their inner lives.”

As freedom is a breakfastfood by E.E. Cummings

“A little Valentine’s Day prep with a favorite poem by E.E. Cummings,” Portman shared on Instagram in February 2020.

as freedom is a breakfastfood
or truth can live with right and wrong
or molehills are from mountains made
— long enough and just so long
will being pay the rent of seem
and genius please the talentgang
and water most encourage flame

as hatracks into peachtrees grow
or hopes dance best on bald men’s hair
and every finger is a toe
and any courage is a fear
— long enough and just so long
will the impure think all things pure
and hornets wail by children stung

or as the seeing are the blind
and robins never welcome spring
nor flatfolk prove their world is round
nor dingsters die at break of dong
and common’s rare and millstones float
— long enough and just so long
tomorrow will not be too late

worms are the words but joy’s the voice
down shall go which and up come who
breasts will be breasts thighs will be thighs
deeds cannot dream what dreams can do
— time is a tree(this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough

A Poem for the Seder by Yehuda Amichai

“Some Amichai to soothe us on this Seder eve. Chag sameach to all who celebrate!” Portman wrote on Instagram in April of 2020 — which marked the first seder in quarantine.

What’s your favourite poem? Tell us on Instagram, Twitter or Tik Tok @JewishUnpacked!

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