Oct 192012

Unofficial Wine Week continues! The terribly clever Moshe ibn Ezra plays here with the multiple possible meanings of the word saf: a threshold or doorstep, a doorpost, a goblet and a verb meaning “to come to an end.” The effect can’t be reproduced in English, but it’s kind of a funny poem anyway. The effect of ending each line with “saf” should come through clearly enough in the transliteration.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
Into Cups of Emerald Cast the Wine

Into cups of emerald cast the wine / that looks like blood on the doorpost
That holds fast the weakened heart / that comes poured into goblets,
I’ll drink until I lay my head / senseless on the doorstep
And just as it got to its feet / all my heart’s sorrow ended.

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
בכוס שוהם יצוק יין

בְּכוֹס שֹׁהַם יְצֹק יַיִן \ כְּעֵין הַדָּם אֲשֶׁר בַּסָּף
אֲשֶׁר יַחְזִיק לְבַב חַלָּשׁ \ וְיָבֹא בַקְּרָב עִם סָף
וְאֶשְׂתֶּה עַד מְרַאשֹׁתַי \ בְּלֹא בִין יִהְיוּ בַסָּף
וְכָלִיל כָּל יְגוֹן לִבִּי \ בְּעֵת הָקִיץ לְרַגְלוֹ סָף.


Be-khós shóham yetzók yáyin / ke-ʕéin ha-dám ‘ashér ba-sáf
‘Asher yaḥzík leváv ḥalásh / ve-yavó vakráv ʕim saf
Ve-‘eshtéh ʕad merashotái / be-ló vin yiheyú va-sáf
Ve-khalíl kol yegón libí / be-ʕéit hakítz le-ragló saf.

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