Nov 252012

If you ever take any advice of mine to heart, dear reader, let it be this: never go more than a few days without Yehuda ha-Levi’s love poetry. And may we all find someone worthy of it.

Yehuda ha-Levi (1075? – 1141?)
Would That Dawn Might Pursue Me

Would that dawn might pursue me with the very same wind
That makes sway her body and kisses her lips
And would that the clouds had borne her my love,
So it might make her heart as soft as her hips.
May the doe who now rests on the far Hyades1
Pity he who must fly to the stars high above.

יהודה הלוי / يهوذا اللاوي
לו שחרים ירדפוני ברוח

לוּ שְׁחָרִים יְרַדְּפוּנִי בְרוּחַ
הַמְנַשֵּׁק פִּיהָ וְגוּפָהּ יְנוֹפֵף
וַעֲנָנִים לוּ נָשְׂאוּ לָהּ שְׁלוֹמִי
אָז כְּמָתְנָהּ קְשִׁי לְבָבָהּ יְרוֹפֵף
יַעֲלָה בָּחֲרָה עֲלֵי עָשׁ מְנוּחָה
רַחֲמִי אֶת אֲשֶׁר עֲדֵי עָשׁ יְעוֹפֵף.


Lu sheḥarím yeradfúni ve-rúaḥ
Ha-menashéik píha ve-gufáh yenoféif
Va-ʕananím lu nas’ú lah shelomí
‘Az ke-motnáh keshí levaváh yeroféif
Yaʕaláh baḥaráh ʕaléi ʕash menuḥáh
Raḥamí ‘et ‘ashér ʕadéi ʕash yeʕoféif.

  1. The word ha-Levi uses, ʕash, may refer to either to Taurus or Ursa Major (the constellation is mentioned in the Bible alongside Orion and the Pleiades, but its exact identity has long been a matter of some dispute). The Hyades, which are within Taurus, are sometimes referred to as bnei ʕash (“the children of Ash”). I like star clusters, so I went with that.

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