S.Y. Agnon’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

This post presents the audio recording (Hebrew) and translated text of a short excerpt from Israeli author Shai (Shmuel Yosef) Agnon’s acceptance speech after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Although Agnon himself was born in the Diaspora, he describes his deep feeling that he was actually born in Jerusalem, on some level, as someone who aspires to live in the ancient holy Temple with the Levites. This passage appeared on an old version of the 50 NIS bill. To read the entire speech, click here

An Excerpt from S.Y. Agnon’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

As a result of the historic catastrophe in which Titus of Rome destroyed Jerusalem and Israel was exiled from its land, I was born in one of the cities of the Exile. But always I regarded myself as one who was born in Jerusalem. In a dream, in a vision of the night, I saw myself standing with my brother-Levites in the Holy Temple, singing with them the songs of David, King of Israel, melodies such as no ear has heard since the day our city was destroyed and its people went into exile. I suspect that the angels in charge of the Shrine of Music, fearful lest I sing in wakefulness what I had sung in dream, made me forget by day what I had sung at night; for if my brethren, the sons of my people, were to hear, they would be unable to bear their grief over the happiness they have lost. To console me for having prevented me from singing with my mouth, they enable me to compose songs in writing.