Dec 182012

There’s really no touching the Italian Hebrew poets in their romanticism and lyricism (and their wit) – they are, after all, Italian. But it seems the incredible parallel flowering of Italian and Hebrew poetry during the Renaissance is somewhat eclipsed in the popular1 imagination by the Hebrew poetry of medieval Andalusia. Or maybe it’s just me? In any case, I’m quite fond of this poem. I hope I’ve done it justice.

This is, you may notice, an ottava rima. I managed to preserve the form, more or less, in translation. One day someone will appreciate me. One day.

Yosef Tzarfati (? – 1527)
You’re Asleep

You’re asleep, gentle girl; and wakeful I’m wand’ring,
Around your house dazèd and dreamy I pace.
You’re asleep; and I conjure cliffs in my suff’ring,
That my pain might blacken the moon’s shining face.
You’re asleep; and your beauty’s brilliance is plund’ring
From inside my eyes sleep and rest’s ev’ry trace.
My thoughts are all joined in your form, in your frame,
Like wax they all melt in the heat of your flame.

יוסף צרפתי
ישנה את

יְשֵׁנָה אַתְּ, אֲנִי נֵעוֹר וְנוֹדֵד
וּמִתְנַמְנֵם סְבִיב בֵּיתֵךְ, עֲדִינָה.
יְשֵׁנָה אַתְּ, אֲנִי צוּרִים אֲעוֹדֵד
בְּמַכְאוֹבִי וְאַחְשִׁיךְ הַלְּבָנָה.
יְשֵׁנָה אַתְּ, וְזִיו מַרְאֵךְ יְשׁוֹדֵד
תְּנוּמָה מִבְּנוֹת עֵינַי וְשֵׁנָה.
בְּצַלְמֵךְ כָּל מְזִמּוֹתַי כְּנוּסִים,
וְכַדּוֹנַג בְּתוֹךְ אִשֵּׁךְ נְמַסִּים.


Yesheináh ‘at, ‘aní neiʕór ve-nodéid
U-mitnamnéim sevív beitéikh, ʕadináh.
Yesheináh ‘at, ‘aní tzurím ‘aʕodéid
Be-makh’oví ve-‘aḥshíkh ha-levanáh.
Yesheináh ‘at, ve-zív mar’éikh yeshodéid
Tenumáh mi-benót ʕeinái ve-sheináh.
Be-tzalméikh kol mezimotái kenusím,
Ve-kha-donág be-tókh ‘ishéikh nemasím.

  1. Well, as “popular” as the history of Hebrew poetry can ever really be…

  3 Responses to “Yosef Tzarfati, “Yesheinah ‘At””

  1. Todáh Rabáh

  2. Todáh rabáh, boker tov , barúj atá

  3. Bevakashá, boker or, zot kefiráh

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