Nov 052012
 

I suppose this is one of Yehuda ha-Levi’s most popular poems (it’s either this or “Tziyon Ha-Lo Tish’ali”), which means it’s been widely disseminated and there’s no point in me translating it. And yet here we are. I always did gravitate towards futility.

I think it’s worth pointing out that when the Spanish Jewish poets talk about living at the edge of the west, it’s not really poetic license. As far as they knew, they were quite literally at the end of the world, as far from Zion as anyone could be.

Yehuda ha-Levi (1075? – 1141?)
My Heart Is in the East

My heart is in the East, yet I am in the utmost West
How can I taste the food I eat, could it bring me any rest?
The vows and oaths I’ve sworn, can I heed them as I must
When Zion’s bound with Christian rope and I with Arab chains?
It seems as easy in my eyes to leave the charms of Spain,
As precious as my eyes would find the ruined Temple’s dust.

יהודה הלוי / يهوذا اللاوي
לבי במזרח

 
לִבִּי בְמִזְרָח וְאָנֹכִי בְּסוֹף מַעֲרָב
אֵיךְ אֶטְעֲמָה אֵת אֲשֶׁר אֹכַל וְאֵיךְ יֶעֱרָב
אֵיכָה אֲשַׁלֵּם נְדָרַי וָאֱסָרַי, בְּעוֹד
צִיּוֹן בְּחֶבֶל אֱדוֹם וַאֲנִי בְּכֶבֶל עֲרָב
יֵקַל בְּעֵינַי עֲזֹב כָּל טוּב סְפָרַד, כְּמוֹ
יֵקַר בְּעֵינַי רְאוֹת עַפְרוֹת דְּבִיר נֶחֱרָב.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Libí ve-mizráḥ ve-‘anokhí be-sóf maʕaráv
‘Eikh ‘eteʕamáh ‘eit ‘ashér ‘ókhál ve-‘éikh yeʕeráv
‘Eikháh ‘ashaléim nedarái va-‘esarái be-ʕód
Tziyón be-ḥével ‘edóm va-‘aní be-khével ʕaráv
Yeikál be-ʕeinái ʕazóv kol tuv sefarád kemó
Yeikár be-ʕeinái re’ót ʕafrót devír neḥeráv.

  3 Responses to “Yehuda ha-Levi, “Libi ve-Mizraḥ””

  1. ZION B’HEVEL EDOM means in/at the hand of the EDOM or ESAU…NOT BIND WITH CHRISTIAN CHAINS LIKE U SAID… KEEP IT REAL.

  2. No. Literally it means “in the rope of Edom.” Edom is the rabbinic euphemism par excellence for Christianity, and Christian Europe in particular. Also I said “Christian rope.” Part of translation is translating not only words, but references that may not be familiar to the audience in the target language. Keep trying. High school doesn’t last forever.

  3. […] and here is Spain […]

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