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Robert Friend (November 25, 1913 – January 12, 1998) was an American-born poet and translator. After moving to Israel, he became a professor of English literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Friend was born in 1913 in Brooklyn, New York, to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants. He was the eldest of five children. After studying at Brooklyn College, Harvard and Cambridge, he taught English literature and writing in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Panama, France, England, and Germany. He settled in Israel in 1950, where he lived the rest of his life. He taught English and American Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for over thirty years. He was well known in Israel as an English-language poet and a translator of Hebrew poetry.
Robert Friend was gay, and his sexuality found expression in his poetry well before the Stonewall era. According to Edward Field in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poetry, Shadow on the Sun is "remarkable in that, for its time, it contains so many poems about the author's homosexuality." Friend's openness continued throughout his writing career.
Friend's first published volume of verse was Shadow on the Sun (1941). His last collection of poetry, Dancing with a Tiger: Poems 1941-1998, was published posthumously in 2003. He translated around 800 works from Hebrew, Yiddish, Spanish, French, German, and Arabic. Toby Press published two volumes of his translations in its Hebrew Classics Series: Found in Translation: Modern Hebrew Poets, A Bilingual Edition (2006, Second Revised Edition) and Ra'hel: Flowers of Perhaps (2008, Second Revised Edition). Among the Hebrew poets Friend translated into English are Chaim Nachman Bialik, Rachel, Natan Alterman, Leah Goldberg, Gabriel Preil and Yehuda Amichai.
Friend won the Jeannette Sewell Davis Prize (Poetry, Chicago).
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