Nov 292012

Love poem, I’ve got a love poem, I’ve got a love poem for youuuuuuu…

(As an aside, I think the afro and the human-shaped being growing from beneath it serving as emcee in that video produce the most syntactically complex English sentence I’ve ever actually heard spoken out loud.)

Anyway! Yehuda ha-Levi, ladies and gentlemen! This poem is constructed out of literally dozens of Biblical allusions, which I just don’t feel like annotating because it’s a huge pain in the ass. If you want me to sit here with the concordance, well…

Yehuda ha-Levi (1075? – 1141?)
Wherefore, My Gazelle

Wherefore, my gazelle, do you withhold your envoys
From the lover whose ribs are wracked by your pains?
Do you not know your lover asks nothing from time
Save hearing the sound of your greetings?
If it’s been decreed that we two must part
Wait a time ’til I take in your visage.
I cannot say if my heart’s stopped ‘twixt my ribs
Or if it will leave on your journeys.
By love’s life, remember your days of desire,
As I remember the nights of your passions,
And as in my dreams your form passes through,
So may I as well pass through yours.
Between you and I seethes a sea made of tears
How could I cross over its breakers to reach you?
And yet if your footsteps would deign to draw near it
Its waters would split at the soles of your feet!
Would that in my death both my ears might still hear
The golden bells tinkling on your dress’ fringes
Or if you’d ask after your love from the grave
I’d ask for your loving and tidings!
Two witnesses saw how you spilled my heart’s blood,
Namely, your cheeks and your lips —
How could you deny when they’re yet standing over
My own blood, the blood your hands spilled?
How could you long for my death when I only long
To add years to the years of your life?
If you robbed me of sleep on my night of desire,
Wouldn’t I give my eyes’ sleep to your eyelids?
Waters of tears have lapped at your flame,
And hearts made of stone are worn away by your waters.
I’ve come through flames of your passion and waves of my crying,
My heart wailing through both my tears and your embers.
‘Twixt bitter and sweet stands my heart now, to wit:
The hemlock of parting, the honey of kisses,
After your words hammered out flat as tin
The same threads cut short by your hands.
It seems like the sight of two rubies on sapphires
When I look at your lips and your teeth,
Your face is the sun, and by night you spread out
O’er its radiance the clouds of your locks.
Silk and embroidery are your body’s raiment,
Yet grace and sheer beauty are what clothe your two eyes.
The jewels maidens wear are but the work of a man,
But your own jewels are glory and pleasure.
The sun and the moon, the Pleiades’ stars
All longed to be your brothers and sisters.
Sons and daughters would wonder if they’d ever be free
To work as your servants and handmaids.
I’d ask nothing more from the treasure of time
Than the thread of your lips and the belt of your hips.
My comb and my honey lie ‘twixt your two lips
Like my spikenard and myrrh lie between your two breasts.
I’ve set you as a seal on both of my arms,
Would that I’d be a seal on yours.
May my right hand forget and depart from my left
If I forget the sweet love of your betrothals.
Parting makes my heart bitter as my lips now remember
The taste of the honey that flowed from your kisses.
If I blend my own scent with the scent of your myrrh,
I might then kiss your nose and your cheeks.
For to honor most women is to give them due praise,
But your praises already stand honored within you.
In the field of the daughters of desire, all love’s sheaves
Would bow down before the sheaves that you’ve gathered.
And would that I might only live ’til the day
I could gather the myrrh and perfume ‘twixt your footfalls,
Your voice I can’t hear, yet still I perceive
In my heart’s deepest reaches the sound of your footsteps.
And when your day comes be sure to revive those who fell
To your passion, that your dead might all live!
And return to my body the soul that flew out
Behind you on the day that you left.
Ask after your love, O my doe, full of grace
If time should ever ask what you wish —
Come back, and our Rock shall return you in peace
To the place of your desire, your homeland.

יהודה הלוי / يهوذا اللاوي
מה לך צביה

מַה לָּךְ צְבִיָּה תִּמְנְעִי צִירָיִךְ
מִדּוֹד צְלָעָיו מָלְאוּ צִירָיִךְ
לֹא תֵדְעִי כִּי אֵין לְדוֹדֵךְ מִזְּמָן
בִּלְתִּי שְׁמֹעַ קוֹל שְׁלוֹמוֹתָיִךְ
אִם הַפְּרִידָה עַל שְׁנֵינוּ נִגְזְרָה
עִמְדִי מְעַט עַד אֶחֱזֶה פָנָיִךְ
לֹא אֵדְעָה אִם בֵּין צְלָעַי נֶעֱצַר
לִבִּי וְאִם יֵלֵךְ לְמַסָּעָיִךְ
חֵי אַהֲבָה זִכְרִי יְמֵי חִשְׁקֵךְ כְּמוֹ
אֶזְכּוֹר אֲנִי לֵילוֹת תְּשׁוּקוֹתָיִךְ
כַּאֲשֶׁר דְּמוּתֵךְ בַּחֲלוֹמִי יַעֲבֹר
כֵּן אֶעְבְּרָה נָא בַּחֲלוֹמוֹתָיִךְ
בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵךְ יָם דְּמָעוֹת יֶהֱמוּ
גַלָּיו וְלֹא אוּכַל עֲבֹר אֵלָיִךְ
אַךְ לוּ פְעָמַיִךְ לְעָבְרוֹ קָרְבוּ
אָז נִבְקְעוּ מֵימָיו לְכַף רַגְלָיִךְ
לוּ אַחֲרֵי מוֹתִי בְּאָזְנַי יַעֲלֶה
קוֹל פַּעֲמוֹן זָהָב עֲלֵי שׁוּלָיִךְ
אוֹ תִשְׁאֲלִי לִשְׁלוֹם יְדִידֵךְ מִשְּׁאוֹל
אֶשְׁאַל בְּדוֹדַיִךְ וּבִשְׁלוֹמָיִךְ
אָכֵן עֲלֵי שָׁפְכֵךְ דְּמֵי לִבִּי שְׁנֵי
עֵדִים לְחָיַיִךְ וְשִׂפְתוֹתָיִךְ
אֵיךְ תֹּאמְרִי לֹא כֵן וְהֵם עֵדַי עֲלֵי
דָמִי וְעַל כִּי שָׁפְכוּ יָדָיִךְ
מַה תַּחְפְצִי מוֹתִי וְהֵן אֶחְפֹּץ אֲנִי
שָׁנִים לְהוֹסִיף עַל שְׁנֵי חַיָיִךְ
אִם תִּגְזְלִי נוּמִי בְּלֵיל חִשְׁקִי הֲלֹא
אֶתֵּן שְׁנָת עֵינַי לְעַפְעַפָּיִךְ
מֵימֵי דְמָעוֹת לִחֲכָה אִשֵּׁך וְגַם
אַבְנֵי לְבָבוֹת שָׁחֲקוּ מֵימָיִךְ
בָּאתִי בְּאֵשׁ חִשְׁקֵךְ וּמֵי בִכְיִי אָהַהּ
לִבִּי בְדִמְעוֹתַי וְגֶחָלָיִךְ
בֵּין מַר וּמָתוֹק יַעֲמֹד לִבִּי וְהֵם
רוֹשׁ הַנְּדוֹד וּדְבַשׁ נְשִׁיקוֹתָיִךְ
אַחֲרֵי דְבָרַיִךְ כְּפַחִים רִקְעוּ
אֹתוֹ פְּתִילִים קִצְצוּ יָדָיִךְ
מַרְאֵה דְמוּת אֹדֶם עֲלֵי סַפִּיר בְּעֵת
אֶרְאֶה שְׂפָתַיִךְ עֲלֵי שִׁנָּיִךְ
שֶׁמֶשׁ בְּפָנַיִךְ וְלַיִל תִּפְרְשִׂי
עַל זָהֳרוֹ עָבֵי קְּוֻצּוֹתָיִךְ
מֶשִׁי וְרִקְמָה הֵם כְּסוֹת גּוּפֵךְ אֲבָל
הַחֵן וְהַיֹפִי כְּסוּת עֵינָיִךְ
מַשְׂכִּית עֲלָמוֹת מַעֲשֵׁה יְדֵי אִישׁ וְאַתְּ
הַהוֹד וְהַחֶמְדָּה שְׂכִיּוֹתָיִךְ
חֶרֶס וְסַהַר עָשּׁ וְכִימָה קִנְּאוּ
לִהְיוֹת כְּאַחַיִךְ וְאַחְיוֹתָיִךְ
בָּנִים וּבָנוֹת חָשְׁבוּ אִם חָפְשׁוּ
לִהְיוֹת עֲבָדַיִךְ וְשִׁפְחוֹתָיִךְ
לֹא אֶשְׁאֲלָה מֵהוֹן זְמַן חֶלְקִי לְבַד
מִחוּט שְׂפָתַיִּךְ חֲגוֹר מָתְנָיִךְ
יַעְרִי וְדִבְשִׁי בֵּין שְׂפָתַיִךְ כְּמוֹ
נִרְדִּי וּמוֹרִי בֵּין שְׁנֵי שָׁדָיִךְ
שַׂמְתִּיךְ כְּחוֹתָם עַל יְמִינִי לוּ אֲנִי
אֶהְיֶה כְּחוֹתָם עַל זְרוֹעוֹתָיִךְ
אֶשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי מִשְּׂמַאלִי יַעֲלֶה
אִם אֶשְׁכְּחָה אַהֲבַת כְּלוּלֹתָיִךְ
הֵמַר נְדוֹד לִבִּי בְּזָכְרִי יַעֲרַת
נֹפֶת שְׂפָתִי מִנְּשִׁיקוֹתָיִךְ
רֵיחִי בְּרֵיחַ מָר-דְּרוֹרֵךְ אֶמְהֲלָה
אוּלַי בְּרֵיחִי אֶשֳּׁקָה אַפָּיִךְ
הִנֵּה כְּבוֹד נָשִׁים תְּהִלָּתָן וְאַתְּ
בָּךְ נִכְבְּדוּ הַיּוֹם תְּהִלּוֹתָיִךְ
בִּשְׂדֵה בְנוֹת חֵשֶׁק אֲלֻמּוֹת אַהֲבָה
תִּשְׁתַּחֲוֶינָה לַאֲלֻמּוֹתָיִךְ
מִי יִתְּנֵנִי אֶחְיֶה עַד אֶאֱרֶה
בֹּשֶׂם וּמוֹר מִבֵּין הֲלִיכוֹתָיִךְ
לֹא אֶשְׁמְעָה קֹוֵלְך אֲבָל אֶשְׁמַע עֲלֵי
סִתְרֵי לְבָבִי קוֹל צְעָדוֹתָיִךְ
פִּקְדִי בְּיוֹם פָּקְדֵךְ לְחַיּוֹת חַלְלֵי
חִשְׁקֵךְ וְיוֹם בּוֹ יִחְיוּ מֵתָיִךְ
נַפְשִׁי לְהָשִׁיב אֶל גְּוִיָּתִי בְיוֹם
נָסְעֵךְ בְּצֵאתֵךְ יָצְאָה אַחֲרָיִךְ
בִּשְׁלוֹם יְדִידֵךְ יַעֲלַת חֵן שַׁאֲלִי
אִם הַזְּמָן יִשְׁאַל שְׁאֵלוֹתָיִךְ
שׁוּבִי וְצוּרֵנוּ יְשִׁיבֵךְ אֶל מְחוֹז
חֶפְצֵךְ וְאֶל אֶרֶץ מְכֻרוֹתָיִךְ.


Mah lakh tzeviyáh timneʕí tziráyikh
Mi-dód tzelaʕáv mal’ú tziráyikh
Lo teidʕí ki ‘ein le-dodéikh mi-zemán
Bílti shemóaʕ kol shlomotáyikh
‘Im ha-preidáh ʕal shnéinu nigzeráh
ʕimdí meʕát ʕad ‘eḥezéh fanáyikh
Lo ‘eidʕáh ‘im bein tzelaʕái neʕetzár
Libí ve-ím yeiléikh le-masaʕáyikh
Ḥei ‘ahaváh zikhrí yeméi ḥishkéikh kemó
‘Ezkór ‘aní leilót teshukotáyikh
Ka’ashér demutéikh ba-ḥalomí yaʕavór
Kein ‘eʕberáh na ba-ḥalomotáyikh
Beiní u-veinéikh yam demaʕót yehemú
Galáv ve-lo ‘ukhál ʕavór ‘eiláyikh
‘Akh lu peʕamáyikh leʕavró karvú
‘Az nivkeʕú meimáv le-kháf ragláyikh
Lu ‘aḥaréi motí be-‘oznái yaʕaléh
Kol paʕamón zaháv ʕaléi shuláyikh
‘O tish’alí lishlóm yedidéikh mi-she’ól
‘Esh’ál be-dodáyikh u-vishlomáyikh
‘Akhéin ʕaléi shofkhéikh deméi libí shenéi
ʕeidím leḥayáyikh ve-siftotáyikh
‘Eikh tomrí lo khein ve-héim ʕadéi ʕaléi
Damí ve-ʕál ki shafkhú yadáyikh
Mah taḥpetzí motí ve-héin ‘eḥpótz ‘aní
Shaním lehosíf ʕal shenéi ḥayáyikh
‘Im tigzelí numí be-léil ḥishkí ha-ló
‘etéin shenát ʕeinái le-ʕafʕapáyikh
Meiméi demaʕót liḥakháh ‘ishéikh ve-gám
‘Avnéi levavót shaḥakú meimáyikh
Báti be-‘éish ḥishkéikh u-méi vikhyí ‘aháh
Libí ve-dimʕotái ve-geḥaláyikh
Bein mar u-matók yaʕamód libí ve-héim
Rosh ha-nedód u-devásh neshikotáyikh
‘Aḥaréi devaráyikh ke-faḥím rikʕú
‘Otó petilím kitzetzú yadáyikh
Mar’éih demút ‘ódem ʕaléi sapír be-ʕéit
‘Er’éh sefatáyikh ʕaléi shináyikh
Shémesh be-fanáyikh ve-láyil tifresí
ʕal zoharó ʕavéi kevutzotáyikh
Méshi ve-rikmáh heim kesót guféikh ‘avál
Ha-ḥein ve-ha-yófi kesót ʕeináyikh
Maskít ʕalamót maʕaséih yedéi ‘ish ve-‘át
Ha-hód ve-ha-ḥemdáh sekhiyotáyikh
Ḥéres ve-sáhar ʕash ve-khimáh kin’ú
Liheyót ke-‘aḥáyikh ve-‘aḥyotáyikh
Baním u-vanót ḥashvú ‘im ḥafshú
Liheyót ʕavadáyikh ve-shifḥotáyikh
Lo ‘esh’aláh mei-hón zemán ḥelkí levád
Mi-ḥút sefatáyikh ḥagór motnáyikh
Yaʕrí ve-divshí bein sefatáyikh kemó
Nirdí u-morí bein shenéi shadáyikh
Samtíkh ke-ḥotám ʕal yeminí lu ‘aní
‘Eheyéh ke-ḥotám ʕal zeroʕotáyikh
‘Eshkáḥ yeminí mi-smolí yaʕaléh
‘Im ‘eshkeḥáh ‘ahavát kelulotáyikh
Heimár nedód libí be-zokhrí yaʕarát
Nófet sefatái mi-neshikotáyikh
Reiḥí be-réiaḥ mor deroréikh ’emhaláh
‘Ulái be-reiḥí ‘eshakáh ‘apáyikh
Híneih kevód nashím tehilatán ve-‘át
Bakh nikhbedú ha-yóm tehilotáyikh
Bisdéih vanót ḥéishek ‘alumót ‘ahaváh
Tishtaḥavéna la-‘alumotáyikh
Mi yitnéini ‘eḥyéh ʕad ‘e’eréh
Bósem u-mór me-béin halikhotáyikh
Lo ‘eshmeʕáh koléikh ‘avál ‘eshmáʕ ʕaléi
Sitréi levaví kol tzeʕadotáyikh
Pikdí be-yóm pokdéikh leḥayót ḥaleléi
Ḥishkéikh ve-yóm bo yiḥeyú meitáyikh
Nafshí lehashív ‘el geviyatí ve-yóm
Nosʕéikh be-tzeitéikh yatz’áh ‘aḥaráyikh
Bi-shelóm yedidéikh yaʕalát ḥein sha’alí
‘Im ha-zemán yish’ál she’eilotáyikh
Shúvi ve-tzuréinu yeshivéikh ‘el meḥóz
Ḥeftzéikh ve-‘él ‘éretz mekhurotáyikh.

  One Response to “Yehuda ha-Levi, “Mah Lakh Tzeviyah””

  1. man, this sure looks like it took a lot of time and effort for some Russian guy.

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