Nov 172012
 

A muwashshaḥ. How exciting. The Andalusian Hebrew muwashshaḥat often end with a kharja (concluding couplet) in a sort of macaronic Arabic, with Arabized Romance words freely mixed in. The first three words of this poem’s kharja, for example (“bas bas bas”) are the Spanish word for “kiss” (“beso”) recast as an Arabic imperative. I’m not totally sure of the proper vocalization of Andalusian macaronic Arabic, but I’ve given it a shot. If you want to correct me, feel free (the Arabic is written in Hebrew characters; in Arabic it would be: “بس بس بس بفمي ودع سوادك يا عمي”).

Yehuda ha-Levi (1075? – 1141?)
O You, My Gazelle, O You, My Lord

O you, my gazelle, O you, my lord,
May my grief be dear in your eyes
Lest my ruin too soon come upon me –
    Soft, soft, soft with my soul!
    For my welfare is held in your hands
May your heart be soft for the wretch
Who fasts and who weeps from your rage
Who awaits your desire as his manna
    Sate, sate, sate me with manna
    And pay me my due every day
Though you celebrate o’er my sickness
To you I will yet turn my cheek
But somehow you answer me: “Faith! By my life!
    None, none, none have been snared in my net
    Save those who were felled by my virtue.”
I feud in my soul with the miser
If only he’d fear me enough
To restore my lost years, and perhaps he might then
    Fly, fly, fly through my sleep
    And be caught in the weave of my dreams
If I ask for the wine of his lips
He turns red like the sun as it sets
Until from his visage I see,
    How, how, how an Aramean by name
    Can turn out to be Edomite1
His sweet song will split my own sorrows
And his voice will arouse my bright flame
My dear, kiss my lips and so be sufficed:
    Kiss, kiss, kiss my two lips
    Spurn the black of your woe, my true love!

יהודה הלוי / يهوذا اللاوي
בי הצבי בי אדוני


בִּי הַצְּבִי, בִּי אֲדוֹנִי
יֵקַר בְּעֵינָךְ יְגוֹנִי
פֶּן יִקְּרֵנִי אֲסוֹנִי
    אַט, אַט, אַט בְּדָמִי
    כִּי רַק בְּיָדָךְ שְׁלוֹמִי
יֵרַךְ לְבָבָךְ לְנִדְכֶּה
יָצוּם לְזַעְמָךְ וְיִבְכֶּה
וּלְמַן רְצוֹנָךְ יְחַכֶּה
    מַן מַן מָן לְצוֹמִי
    וּתְנָה שְׂכָרִי בְּיוֹמִי
אִם תַּעֲלֹז עַל חֳלָיַי
אֶשְׁטַח לְךָ אֶת לְחָיַי
וַתַּעֲנֵנִי וְחַיַּי
    אֵין, אֵין, אֵין בְּחֶרְמִי
    רַק הַהֲרוּגִים לְתֻמִּי
אָרִיב בְּנַפְשְׁי לְכִילַי
לוּ יִפְחֲדֵנִי וְאֵלַי
יָשִׁיב שְׁנָתִי, וְאוּלַי
    עָף עָף עָף בְּנוּמִי
    יָבוֹא בְכֶפֶל חֲלוֹמִי
אִם אֶשְׁאֲלָה צוּף שְׂפָתוֹ
יַאְדִּים כְּשֶׁמֶשׁ בְּצֵאתוֹ
עַד אֶחֱזֶה מִדְּמוּתוֹ
    אֵיךְ, אֵיךְ, אֵיךְ אֲרַמִּי
    יַהְפֹךְ דְּמוּתוֹ אֲדֹמִי
שִׁירוֹ יְפַלַּח כְּבֵדִי
יָשִׁיר לְעוֹרֵר יְקוֹדִי
שַׁק פִּי וְרַב לָךְ, יְדִידִי
    בס, בס, בס בפמי
    ודע סואדך, יא עמי
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Bi ha-tzeví bi-‘adoní
Yeikár be-ʕeinákh yegoní
Pen yikréini ‘asoní
‘At ‘at ‘at be-damí
Ki rak be-yadákh shelomí
Yeirákh levavákh le-nidkéh
Yatzúm le-zaʕmákh ve-yivkéh
U-le-mán retzonákh yeḥakéh
Man man man le-tzomí
U-tenáh sekharí be-yomí
‘Im taʕalóz ʕal ḥalayái
‘Eshtáḥ lekhá ‘et leḥayái
Va-taʕanéini ve-ḥayái
‘Ein ‘ein ‘ein be-ḥermí
Rak ha-harugím le-tumí
‘Ariv be-nafshí le-khilái
Lu yifḥadéini ve-‘eilái
Yashív shenatí ve-‘ulái
ʕaf ʕaf ʕaf be-numí
Yavó ve-khéfel ḥalomí
‘Im ‘esh’aláh tzuf sefató
Ya’dím ke-shémesh be-tzeitó
ʕad ‘eḥezéh midmutó
‘Eikh ‘eikh ‘eikh ‘aramí
Yahefókh demutó ‘adomí
Shiró yefaláḥ kveidí
Yashír leʕoréir yekodí
Shak pi ve-ráv lakh yedidí
Bas bas bas bi-fémi
Wádaʕ suwáaduka ya ʕámi

  1. An untranslatable pun. “Aramean” refers to Laban the Aramean, whose name means “white.” “Edomite” (“‘adomí”) can be understood in Hebrew as “a red person.” It’s a clever way to talk about blushing.

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