Dec 222012

This one has a pleasing rhythm, but doesn’t really rhyme. A translator’s dream. This is the first poem of a six poem cycle in which each poem’s lines end with one of the same six words (world, forest, snow, summer, night and sun). In Hebrew, all these words happen to have a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one, but sadly, that only works for “forest” and “summer” in English.

Ephraim Luzzatto (1729 – 1792)
Fair Is My Love

Fair is my love amongst the girls of the world,
Yet more foreign than the beasts of the forest,
And yet harder than flint, and colder than snow,
She sparked in my heart the dryness of summer;1
There’s darkness before me, and thick clouds, and night,
Yet before me she’ll sit as bright as the sun.

אפרים לוצאטו
זאת רעיתי נאוה

זֹאת רַעְיָתִי נָאוָה בִבְנוֹת הָאָרֶץ,
זָרָה גַם נָכְרִיָּה מִחַיְתוֹ יָעַר,
מֵחַלָּמִישׁ קָשָׁה, קָרָה מִשֶּׁלֶג,
הִבְעִירָה בִלְבָבִי חַרְבוֹנֵי קַיִץ;
יֵשׁ חֹשֶׁךְ עִמָּדִי, עָנָן, וָלַיְלָה,
עוֹד מִמֻּלִי תֵשֵׁב בָּרָה כַשֶּׁמֶשׁ.


Zot raʕyatí na’váh vi-venót ha-‘áretz,
Zaráh gam nokhriyáh mi-ḥayetó yáʕar,
Mei-ḥalamísh kasháh, karáh mi-shéleg,
Hivʕírah vi-levaví ḥaronéi káyitz;
Yeish ḥóshekh ʕimadí, ʕanán, ve-láilah,
ʕod mi-mulí teishéiv baráh kha-shémesh.

  1. Psalm 32:4

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