A Child is Something Else Again

Yehuda Amichai

‘A Child is Something Else Again’ by Yehuda Amichai is a poem about parenthood and childhood. A child represents a great deal, the speaker says, and provides a parent with the will to live. 

Yehuda Amichai

Nationality: Israeli

Yehuda Amichai was a prolific Israeli poet who found poetic inspiration in his religion.

Amichai was one of the first modern poets to write in colloquial Hebrew.

Key Poem Information

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Central Message: Children are incredibly unique.

Themes: Love, Religion

Speaker: Likely a parent

Emotions Evoked: Faith, Gratitude, Happiness

Poetic Form: Free Verse

Time Period: 20th Century

The poem captures the awe and wonder of observing a child and the realization that they are not simply an extension of ourselves, but a separate being with their own thoughts and experiences.

Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai, is well-loved for his Hebrew-language poetry. ‘A Child is Something Else Again’ was translated into English by Chana Bloch. It describes the experiences of childhood, as inspired by the poet’s own youth and the power a child has to experience joy and innocence while also inspiring and enlivening their caretakers. 

A Child is Something Else Again by Yehuda Amichai


‘A Child is Something Else Again’ by Yehuda Amichai is a thoughtful poem about childhood and what children represent. 

The speaker begins by describing the “instant” ways a child deals with life and expressions of emotion and opinion. This is followed by a stanza describing how “they” try to craft a child into a specific kind of person who accepts suffering, as Job did, as God’s will. The final two stanzas describe the power a child has as they grow, bringing new ideas into the future and giving their parents a reason to live. 

You can read the full poem here


Throughout this poem, the poet engages with themes of childhood and potential. Religion is also an important part of the text. They describe a child as filled with potential. They bring change and disruption to the future and evoke fear and love in their parents, who fired them, like a missile, into life. 

Structure and Form 

‘A Child is Something Else Again’ by Yehuda Amichai is a four-stanza poem divided into uneven stanzas. The first has four lines, the second: six, the third: three, and the fourth: six. The poem is written in free verse. This means that the poet does not use a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern in his poem. 

The translation referenced below was completed by Chana Bloch. 

Literary Devices 

Below is an analysis of the English-language version of ‘A Child is Something Else.’ This means that some literary devices seen in this specific version of the text are different than what appeared in the original Hebrew version. Consider a few of the literary devices used in the translation below. They include but are not limited to:

  • Anaphora: occurs when the poet repeats the same word or words at the beginning of multiple lines. For example, in this English language translation, the word “in” is used twice in the first stanza, “A” repeated twice at the beginning of lines in the second stanza, and “to say” in stanza three. 
  • Alliteration: occurs when the poet repeats the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example, “he’s humming” in line three of the first stanza and “delivers” and “death” in line five of the final stanza.
  • Imagery: occurs when the poet uses particularly interesting descriptions. For example, “hearing footsteps in the wet pine needles” and “instant light, instant darkness.”
  • Repetition: the use of the same literary device, word, phrase, image, or other technique in a poem. For example, the repetition of “instant” in stanza one and the use of anaphora throughout the poem. 

Detailed Analysis 

Stanza One 

A child is something else again. Wakes up


instant light, instant darkness.

In the first stanza of the poem, the speaker begins by using the line that later came to be used as the title of the poem. The poet wrote, “A child is something else again.” That “something” is described throughout the next few lines and stanzas. 

The speaker spends the lines describing a child with beautiful examples of imagery. Children wake up from a nap and are “full of words.” They do not hesitate in their expressions of interest and curiosity. They speak when they want to and are filled with warmth and light in an “instant.” The word “instant” is a major part of this first stanza. The speaker suggests that children are “instant” in a way that adults are not. They are vibrant, full of life, and, as the rest of the poem suggests, the future. 

Stanza Two 

A child is Job. They’ve already placed their bets on him


to say “You’re welcome” when the Lord has taken away.

The second stanza immediately presents readers with a metaphor. The speaker says that a “child is Job.” This is an allusion to one of the central figures in the Bible. Job is often described as representing innocent suffering in the Bible.

The Book of Job describes Satan torturing Job with God’s permission. He is tested brutally. His children, servants, and livestock all die. But, he continues to worship God. He covers Job in boils, but still, his faith remains. It’s this way of dealing with the world that “they” think is proper. The child must accept suffering as God’s will, “they” believe. But, the speaker’s use of language suggests he believes otherwise. 

“They” refers to any adult future who attempts to control or teach the child. They are trying to craft him into their vision of who he should be. This means teaching him to say “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” to God when good and bad things happen.  

These lines evoke the child’s future and how he “scratches his body / for pleasure. Nothing hurts yet.” He’s in a moment where he’s just discovering the world and what feels good. The pain of adulthood and the struggles of everyday life are yet to impact him.

Often, these lines are connected to the poet’s youth and his strict, religious upbringing. They are contrasted with the three lines of the next stanza. 

Stanza Three

A child is vengeance.


I launched him: I’m still trembling.

The third stanza sets up an example of juxtaposition. The previous stanza suggested that the child is being trained to say “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” at the correct times, fitting into an idealized image of how someone should act and behave according to religion. 

Now, the speaker adds, a “child is vengeance.” He is a “missile into the coming generations.” The child is driving into the future, bringing change, determination, and “vengeance” to the world. Their youth turned them into the person they are today, as it did with the poet, and they come to the future with a power that’s incredible to behold, especially for adults who are used to thinking and behaving in a certain way. 

The final line of this stanza is from the first-person perspective. The speaker says they “launched” the child (an allusion to the missile metaphor in the first line of the stanza). They sent the child into the future and are, likely, the child’s parents. The speaker trembles when they consider the child they’ve made the possibilities that this new life represents. 

Stanza Four 

A child is something else again: on a rainy spring day


Child, Garden, Rain, Fate.

The fourth stanza contains an example of a refrain. The speaker says again that a “child is something else again.” This is followed by a colon, indicating that the speaker will describe what he means by the assertion of “something else again.” They are, he notes, a “rainy spring day” and the experience of “glimpsing the Garden of Eden through the fence.” 

The experience of loving a child is represented by this glimpse at perfection and peace and is compared, in the next line, to “kissing him in his sleep.” This moment of peace is again equated to “hearing footsteps in the wet pine needles.” 

A child evokes the feelings connected with each one of these experiences and the images presented in the previous stanzas. The child is at once both peace and fear. 

A child, the speaker concludes, “delivers you from death.” They represent life and provide a parent, as the speaker has slowly been revealed to be, with a reason to live. 

The final line is a collection of nouns. It reads “Child, Garden, Rain, Fate.” These words represent the images the poet has just conveyed through the previous four stanzas. The line ends the poem on a contemplative note that leaves readers considering a child’s impact on the world and on the people who bring him or her into it. 


Who is the speaker in ‘A Child is Something Else Again?’ 

The speaker is a parent. They are likely the male child’s father and have insight into what it is like to grow up in the same way the child is, being taught through religion, experiencing new things, and coming to the world with powerful ideas. 

What literary devices are used in ‘A Child is Something Else Again?’

The poet used repetition, anaphora, refrain, allusions, metaphors, and more within ‘A Child is Something Else Again.’ For example, the allusion to the Book of Job in the Bible. 

What is the message of ‘A Child is Something Else Again?’

The message of ‘A Child is Something Else Again’ is that children represent power, new life, and change. They can bring a new will to live into their parents’ lives, are teachable, and are “instant” in their curiosity and liveliness. 

What is the tone of  ‘A Child is Something Else Again?’ 

The tone is loving and passionate. The speaker has a clear admiration for the male child they spend the poem’s lines describing. But, they are also passionate in their descriptions of childhood and what “they” want for the child. 

Similar Poetry 

Readers who enjoyed this poem should also consider reading some related pieces. For example: 

Poetry+ Review Corner

A Child is Something Else Again

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Yehuda Amichai (poems)

Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai's poetry is known for its accessibility and emotional depth, often exploring universal themes of love, loss, and human nature through a personal lens, and this poem is a great example of his verse. His use of imagery and language in this poem is masterful, and his work has had a significant influence on Israeli poetry.
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20th Century

While this poem is certainly impactful, it is not regarded as a particularly important 20th-century piece of verse. It does not have the same wide reach and influence as poems by poets like T.S. Eliot or Sylvia Plath.
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As an Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai's work often reflects the complexities and nuances of Jewish identity, exploring themes of faith, tradition, and family in a unique cultural context. This poem is not regarded as the most famous Israeli poem of all time, but it is a good example of writing created by an Israeli poet.
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The poem's central message is that a child is a unique and wondrous entity with their distinct perspective and understanding of the world and celebrates the love and beauty of parenthood. Love is a central theme in Yehuda Amichai's poetry, often portrayed as a complex and multifaceted emotion that can bring both joy and pain.
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Faith is a complex and nuanced theme in Yehuda Amichai's poetry, often explored in relation to Jewish tradition and the complexities of religious belief. This poem explores the speaker's faith in the traditions and customs of his religion and his belief in the wonder and beauty of childhood.
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There is currently no rating and description for the tag of Faith.
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Gratitude is a recurring theme in Yehuda Amichai's poetry, often expressed through a deep appreciation for the beauty and complexity of life. The poem expresses gratitude for the gift of parenthood and the wonder of watching a child grow and develop.
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The poem encourages readers to embrace the happiness and joy that parenthood can bring, even in the face of its challenges and complexities. Happiness is a theme throughout Yehuda Amichai's poetry, often explored about the fleeting nature of joy and the inevitability of loss.
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Childhood is a recurring theme in Yehuda Amichai's poetry, often explored about the loss of innocence and the passing of time. The poem celebrates childhood's beauty and complexity, capturing the world's wonder and magic as seen through a child's eyes.
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Fathers and Sons

The poem explores the relationship between fathers and sons, particularly in the speaker's experience of watching his child grow and develop. His work captures the emotional depth and complexity of these relationships and encourages readers to embrace the importance of family.
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Growing Up

The poet's work captures this process's emotional turmoil and complexity and encourages readers to embrace the beauty and complexity of life's transitions. This poem captures what it means to grow up, as seen through the lens of the parent-child relationship.
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The poem celebrates the joys and challenges of parenthood, exploring the deep emotional bond between a parent and child. The poem also encourages readers to embrace the importance of family and the role of parenthood in shaping our lives.
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Free Verse

The use of free verse in the poem allows for a natural flow of language that captures the emotional resonance of the poem's themes. The poet's work is characterized by a natural flow of language and a deep emotional resonance enhanced by the lack of formal constraints.
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Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.

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