Nov 282012
 

Okay, if it’s not self-evident, I had a lot of fun with this one. I mentioned this poem when I gave a presentation on Andalusian Hebrew poetry as a good example of how Avraham ibn Ezra was as top-rate a whiner and poet as he was an exegete and philosopher, but now I’ve actually translated it!

Avraham ibn Ezra (1089 – 1167)
The Coat That I Wear

The coat that I wear looks more like a sieve,
For sifting barley or wheat it’s just right —
At midnight I spread it above like a tent
And through it the stars give their light.
The Pleiades and moon I can see from within
And Orion appears blazing bright.
And all of its holes I’ve grown weary of counting —
Like the teeth of a saw they seem, jagged and brutal.
If a thread had a hope that its rips might bear mending
Through weft and through warp — it was futile.
A fly, like a dupe, would fast regret landing
Upon my coat’s fabric with all of his weight.
So I ask you, my God, if you wouldn’t mind switching —
To give me a new cloak, more grand and ornate,
Only this time, Lord, improve the stitching!

אברהם אבן עזרא / إبراهيم ابن عزرا
מעיל יש לי

 
מְעִיל יֵשׁ לִי וְהוּא כִדְמוּת כְּבָרָה
לְחִטָּה לַהֲנָפָה אוֹ שְׂעוֹרָה,
כְּאֹהֶל אֶפְרְשֶׂנּוּ לֵיל בְּאִישׁוֹן
וְכוֹכְבֵי רוֹם יְשִׂימוּן בּוֹ מְאוֹרָה,
בְּתוֹכוֹ אֶחֱזֶה סַהַר וְכִימָה
וְיוֹפִיעַ כְּסִיל עָלָיו נְהָרָה.
וְאֵלַהּ מִסְּפֹר אֶת כָּל נְקָבָיו
אֲשֶׁר דּוֹמִים לְשִׁנֵּי הַמְּגֵרָה,
וְתִקְוַת חוּט תְּפִירַת כָּל קְרוּעָיו –
עֲלֵי שֶׁתִי וְעֵרֶב – הִיא יְתֵרָה,
וְאִם יִפֹּל זְבוּב עָלָיו בְּחָזְקָה
כְּמוֹ פֶתִי יְהִי נִמְלַךְ מְהֵרָה.
אֱלוֹהַי, הַחֲלִיפֵהוּ בְּמַעְטֵה
תְהִלָּה לִי וְתֵיטִיב הַתְּפִירָה!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Meʕíl yeish li ve-hú khi-demút kevaráh
Le-ḥitáh la-hanafáh ‘o seʕoráh,
Ke-‘óhel ‘efresénu leil be-‘ishón
Ve-khokhevéi rom yesimún bo me’oráh,
Be-tokhó ‘eḥezéh sáhar ve-khimáh
Ve-yofíaʕ kesíl ʕaláv neharáh.
Ve-‘eiláh mi-sefór ‘et kol nekaváv
‘Ashér domím le-shinéi ha-megeiráh,
Ve-tikvát ḥut tefirát kol keruʕáv —
ʕaléi shéti ve-ʕéirev — hi yeteiráh,
Ve-‘im yipól zevúv ʕaláv be-ḥozkáh
Kemó féti yehí nimlákh meheiráh.
‘Elohái, haḥliféihu be-maʕtéih
Tehiláh li ve-teitív ha-tefiráh!

  One Response to “Avraham ibn Ezra, “Me`il Yeish Li””

  1. That is a good one! Something I can relate to.

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