Dec 072012
 

So…this is a cheerful one. This is the shorter of the two poems Bialik wrote in response to the Kishinev pogrom. Sheḥitah, of course, refers to animal slaughter – the dehumanization is the point.

Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik (1873 – 1934)
On the Slaughter

O heavens, ask mercy for me!
If there’s a God found within you, and that God knows a way
And I haven’t found it —
O, pray now for me!
And I — my heart dead, lips void of prayer and amen,
And hopeless already and broken of hand —
Until when, for how long, until when?

O hangman! Here’s a neck — slaughter true!
Behead me like a dog, you’ve an axe to strike blows,
For me the whole earth is a gallows —
And we — and we are the few!
My blood is permitted — hack at my scalp, let flow the red blood of murder,
The blood of the suckling and aged stains your clothes —
It won’t be expunged, now or ever.

And if there is justice — let it make itself known!
But if after I’m wiped out from under the sky
Justice draws nigh —
May its seat be fore’er overthrown!
And the heavens go rotten as malice endures;
But go now, you villains, in all of your crimes,
In your blood may you live and be pure.

And cursed is he who asks vengeance for this!
A fitting revenge, for children’s blood weighted
Satan has not yet created —
So let the blood pierce the abyss!
The blood pierces its way to the depths of creation,
Eroding and eating away in the darkness
All the Earth’s rotting foundations.

חיים נחמן ביאליק
על השחיטה


שָׁמַיִם, בַּקְּשׁוּ רַחֲמִים עָלָי!
אִם-יֵשׁ בָּכֶם אֵל וְלָאֵל בָּכֶם נָתִיב –
וַ אֲ נִ י לֹא מְצָאתִיו –
הִתְפַּלְּלוּ אַתֶּם עָלָי!
אֲ נִ י – לִבִּי מֵת וְאֵין עוֹד תְּפִלָּה בִּשְׂפָתָי,
וּכְבָר אָזְלַת יָד אַף-אֵין תִּקְוָה עוֹד –
עַד-מָתַי, עַד-אָנָה, עַד-מָתָי?

הַתַּלְיָן! הֵא צַוָּאר – קוּם שְׁחָט!
עָרְפֵנִי כַּכֶּלֶב, לְךָ זְרֹעַ עִם-קַרְדֹּם,
וְכָל-הָאָרֶץ לִי גַרְדֹּם –
וַאֲנַחְנוּ – אֲנַחְנוּ הַמְעָט!
דָּמִי מֻתָּר – הַךְ קָדְקֹד, וִיזַנֵּק דַּם רֶצַח,
דַּם יוֹנֵק וָשָׂב עַל-כֻּתָּנְתְּךָ –
וְלֹא יִמַּח לָנֶצַח, לָנֶצַח.

וְאִם יֶשׁ-צֶדֶק – יוֹפַע מִיָּד!
אַךְ אִם-אַחֲרֵי הִשָּׁמְדִי מִתַּחַת רָקִיעַ
הַצֶּדֶק יוֹפִיעַ –
יְמֻגַּר-נָא כִסְאוֹ לָעַד!
וּבְרֶשַׁע עוֹלָמִים שָׁמַיִם יִמָּקּוּ;
אַף-אַתֶּם לְכוּ, זֵדִים, בַּחֲמַסְכֶם זֶה
וּבְדִמְכֶם חֲיוּ וְהִנָּקוּ.

וְאָרוּר הָאוֹמֵר: נְקֹם!
נְקָמָה כָזֹאת, נִקְמַת דַּם יֶלֶד קָטָן
עוֹד לֹא-בָרָא הַשָּׂטָן –
וְיִקֹּב הַדָּם אֶת-הַתְּהוֹם!
יִקֹּב הַדָּם עַד תְּהֹמוֹת מַחֲשַׁכִּים,
וְאָכַל בַּחֹשֶׁךְ וְחָתַר שָׁם
כָּל-מוֹסְדוֹת הָאָרֶץ הַנְּמַקִּים.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Shomáyim, bákshu rákhamim olái!
Im yeish bókhem eil ve-lo-éil bókhem nósiv —
Va-aní lo metzósiv —
Hispálelu átem olái!
Aní líbi meis ve-éin oyd tefíloh bisfósai,
Ukhvór ózlas yod af ein tíkvoh oyd —
Ad mósai, ad ónoh, ad mósai?

Ha-tályon! Hei tzávor — kum shkhót!
Orféini ka-kélev, lekhá zróya im kárdoym,
Ve-khol ho-óretz li gárdoym —
Va-anákhnu — anákhnu ha-me’ót!
Dómi mútor — hakh kódkoyd, vizáneik dam rétzakh,
Dam yóinek vo-sóv al kutóntekha —
Ve-lóy yímakh lo-nétzakh, lo-nétzakh.

Ve-ím yeish tzédek — yóyfa miyód!
Akh im ákhrei hishómdi mi-tákhas rokía
Ha-tzédek yoyfía —
Yemúgar-no khísoy lo-ád!
Uvrésha oylómim shomáyim yimóku;
Af átem lekhú, zéidim, bakhmáskhem zeh
Uvdímkhem khayú ve-hinóku.

Ve-órur ho-óymer: nekóym!
Nekómos kho-zóys, níkmas dam yéled kóton
Oyd loy vóro ha-sóton —
Ve-yíkoyv ha-dóm es haṭhóym!
Yíkoyv ha-dóm ad tehóymoys makhshákim,
Ve-ókhal ba-khóysekh ve-khósar shom
Kol móysdoys ho-óretz hanmákim.

  2 Responses to “Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik, “Al ha-Sheḥitah””

  1. Transcription points:

    Shomáyim, bákshu rákhamim olái!

    Should be
    Shomáyim, bákshu rákhamim olói!

    Aní líbi meis ve-éin oyd tefíloh bisfósai,
    Should be
    Aní líbi meis ve-éin oyd tefíloh bisfósoi,

    Ad mósai, ad ónoh, ad mósai?
    Should be
    Ad mósai, ad ónoh, ad mósoi?

    Dam yóinek vo-sóv al kutóntekha —
    Should be
    Dam yóinek vo-sóv al kutóntkho —

    Yemúgar-no khísoy lo-ád!
    Should be
    Yemúgar-no khísoy l’od! (to rhyme with miyód)

    Nekómos kho-zóys, níkmas dam yéled kóton
    Should be
    Nekómo kho-zóys, níkmas dam yéled kóton

  2. “lips void of prayer and amen”

    I like this! Has a punch to it!

    Btw I titled my own translation of this poem “On The Butchery of Beasts.”

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