Jan 052013
 

There certainly were a lot of Luzzatti. Almost as impressive as the Luzzatto family’s fecundity is that an eleven-syllable-per-line Italian Hebrew sonnet of the eighteenth century is almost stylistically indistinguishable from an eleven-syllable-per-line Italian Hebrew sonnet of the thirteenth century. Consistenza!

Yitzhak Luzzatto (1730 – 1803)
I Prefer Death to Life

I prefer death to life, my fleet morning star.
I prefer death to life, no chains and no ties,
For here in my heart the pain’s too great by far,
As my face, as pale as white wool, testifies.

Desire has caused my wise soul great offense,
Its devious deeds I’ve wearied of bearing.
Turn it to vapor, I beg, beyond caring,
Or may it not speak, may its words lack all sense.

In paths of grief, how my eye’s led me astray;
To dwell near your beauty, oh, how it’s yearning,
For now, without you, I am passing away.

For without their game, even lions will die,
Fires go out lacking wood for the burning,
With no trickle of rain, the stream will run dry.

יצחק לוצאטו
טוב מחיי מותי

 
טוֹב מֵחַיַּי מוֹתִי אַיֶּלֶת שַׁחַר
טוֹב מֵחַיַּי מוֹתִי לָצֵאת מִכֶּבֶל
הִנֵּה כִּי בִלְבָבִי גָדַל הַחֵבֶל
תָעִיד לִבְנַת פָּנַי מִצֶּמֶר צַחַר.
 
הַחֵשֶׁק אֵת־רוּחִי הוֹגָה וַיָּחַר
כִּי סֶלֶף מִפְעָלָיו נִלְאֵתִי סֵבֶל
תָּמִיר לוֹ אֶתְחַנֵּן אָמְנָם לַהֶבֶל
אוֹ לֹא יָשִׁיב אוֹ בִדְבָרָיו אֵין שַׁחַר.
 
אוֹי בִּנְתִיבוֹת יָגוֹן עֵינִי הִנְחָנִי
אֶל־מוּל מַרְאֵךְ נָאוֶה נִסְכָף לָשֶׁבֶת
כִּי בִלְעָדֵךְ עַתָּה גֹוֵעַ אֲנִי.
 
כִּי מִבִּלְתִּי צֵידוֹ יָמוּת גַּם־שַׁחַל
גַּם אֶפֶס הָעֵצִים יִדְעַךְ שַׁלְהֶבֶת
וּבְלִי זַרְזִיף מָטָר יִיבַשׁ הַנַּחַל.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Tov mei-ḥayái motí ‘ayélet sháḥar
Yov mei-ḥayái motí latzéit mi-kével
Híneh ki vilvaví gadál ha-ḥéivel
Taʕíd livnát panái mi-tzémer tzáḥar.

Ha-ḥéishek ‘et ruḥí hogáh va-yáḥar
Ki sélef mifʕaláv nil’éiti séivel
Tamír lo ‘etḥanéin ‘ómnam la-hével
‘O lo yashív ‘o vidvaráv ‘ein sháḥar.

‘Oi bintivót yagón ʕeiní hinḥáni
‘El mul mar’éikh navéh nikhsáf lashévet
Ki vilʕadéikh ʕatáh govéiaʕ ‘aní.

Ki mi-bílti tzeidó yamút gam sháḥal
Gam ‘éfes ha-ʕeitzím yidʕákh shalhévet
Uvlí zarzíf matár yivásh ha-náḥal.

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