Dahlia Ravikovitch is considered one of the great Hebrew language poets of the 20th century. She was born in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Her father’s death when she was six was a formative experience; after his death, her mother moved the family to Kibbutz Geva and married a kibbutz worker. Ravikovitch however left the kibbutz when she was just 13 and lived with a series of foster families. She studied literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. A sense of longing, in particular mourning for a lost childhood, saturates Ravikovitch’s early poems, which are lyrical, passionate, and abstract. Her work began appearing in the 1950s, when few, if any, female poets were being published in Israel. She published more than 20 books of poetry in her lifetime, including The Love of an Orange (1961), A Hard Winter (1965), The Third Book (1970), The Abyss Calls (1978), True Love (1987), All the Poems Till Now (1995), and Half an Hour Before the Monsoon (1998). Ravikovitch also published short story collections, including A Death in the Family (1986) and Winnie Mandela’s Football Team (1997).
Ravikovitch’s later work was intensely political, and she was an outspoken opponent of Israeli policy toward Palestine. Widely honored for her artistry and admired for her courage as a peace activist, she was awarded the Israel Prize, the highest national honor, and cited as “a central pillar of Hebrew lyric poetry.” Her work has been translated into English in volumes such as Dress of Fire (1976, translated by Chana Bloch), The Window: New and Selected Poems (1989, translated by Chana Bloch and Ariel Bloch), and Hovering at a Low Altitude: The Collected Poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch (2009, translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld).