Jan 072013

If I had an ounce of seikhel (or credentials), I’d have someone pay me to compile a history of the Hebrew sonnet, from Immanuel of Rome unto the present day. Being sadly bereft of said quality, however, I will instead continue translating into the void, free of charge, for the dubious benefit of my mother, my Hebrew professor, a Canadian or two, and Mayer-who-cannot-make-kibbeh. And the occasional person on a university network trying to get out of having to, like, use a dictionary or whatever for their stupid Hebrew homework (God). Maybe one day, if I daven and lay tefillin every day, I can become, like this dude, the Internet’s number one destination for clueless goyim who want to know how to say “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son” in the “original Hebrew” for their tattoos? Ah, then I would be fulfilled.

So anyway. This is the second Tchernichovsky poem I’ve posted here, and also the second Tchernichovsky poem about Astarte. He was crazy about her, the little pagan. Here he imagines himself a woman in ancient Canaan before an idol of said goddess. Oh, how my heart bleeds to see the yidelekh turn into oyvdei elilim.

Shaul Tchernichovsky (1875 – 1943)
My Astarte

My Astarte, won’t you tell me, please, was it not through the vale
You came to us? Was it through waves of agate and chalcedony,
In a son of Canaan’s hands, from Sidon, stronghold on the sea?
Did Dan’s chieftains lie in wait for him at night along the trail?

Was it in linen bundles on the camels of Dedan,
The she-camels swaying back and forth and raising golden sand,
Carried by, with swords and spears equipped, a Sheban caravan,
Led forth by tinkling bells and singing moons1 across the land?

To see that emeralds are your eyes, how I have been delighted,
You’re wholly made of ivory, limbs perfectly united.
But the secret no man will reveal — who brought you here to me?

A little basket of dried figs, my finest flour too,
A pour of oil from my olives — so I’ve prayed unto you:
“Please find for me a shining boy and bring him speedily!”

שאול טשרניחובסקי
עשתורתי לי

עַשְׁתָּרְתִּי לִי, הֲלֹא תָּסִיחִי לִי: מֵאָן
הַגַּיְא אֵלֵינוּ בָאת? הַאִם בְּיַד כְּנַעֲנִי צִידוֹן
מֵעִיר לְמָעֹז יָם, בֵּין גַלֵּי שְׁבוֹ וְכַלְצִידוֹן?
הֶאָרְבוּ לוֹ בָּהָר וְעִם־לֵיל אַלּוּפֵי דָן?
הַאִם בִּצְרוֹרוֹת בַּד עַל דַּבְּשׁוֹת גְּמַלֵּי דְדָן
וּנְאָקוֹת מַעֲלוֹת חוֹל הַפָּז בְּנִיעָן וְנִידָן
נִשֵׂאת עִם אֹרְחַת שְׁבָא, נוֹשֶׁקֶת רוֹמָה כִּידוֹן,
וְלִפְנֵיהֶם מְטַרְטֵר קוֹל רִמּוֹנִים וְסַהֲרוֹן רָן?
נִפְלָאוֹת לִי, מַה־נִפְלָאוֹת עֵינַיִךְ אִסְמָרַגְדִּים,
אַף כֻּלָך עָשׂוּךְ שֵׁן, יְצוּרַיִךְ כֹּה מִתְלַכְּדִים.
וְאֵין אִישׁ מְגַלֶּה סוֹד, מִי נְתָנֵךְ לִי — אֵין אִישׁ!
סַלְסִלַּת תְּאֵנִים לָךְ — חָפַנְתִּי קֶמַח סָלְתִּי,
מִשֶּׁמֶן זֵיתִי לֹג — אֵלַיִךְ הִתְפַּלָּלְתִּי:
״נַהֲגִיהוּ, נַעַר צַח, אֵלַי תְּבִיאִיהוּ חִישׁ!״


Ashtórti li, ha-lóy tasíkhi li: me’ón
Ha-gái eléinu vot? Ha-ím be-yád kná’ani tzídon
me-ír le-mó’oz yom, bein gálei shvo ve-khaltzídon?
He-‘órvu lo bo-hór ve-ím leil alúfei don?

Ha-‘ím bitzróroy bad al dábshos gemálei dedón
unókos má’alos khol ha-póz be-ní’on ve-nídon
Níseis im orkhás shvo, noshékes romóh kídon,
Ve-lifnéihem metárteir kol rimónim ve-sáharon rón?

Nifló’os li, mah nifló’os eináyikh ismarágdim,
af kúlokh ósukh shein, yetzuráyikh ko mislákdim.
Ve-éin ish megáleh sod, mi nesáneikh li — ein ish!

Salsílas te’éinim lokh — khafánti kémakh sólti,
mi-shémen zéisi log — eiláyikh hispalólti:
“Nahagíhu, ná’ar tzakh, eilái tevi’íhu khish!”

  1. Saharon, a moon-shaped ornament.

  3 Responses to “Shaul Tchernichovsky, “Ashtorti Li””

  1. Important Research on the Hebrew sonnet has been done by Dvora Bregman. See
    The Golden Way: The Hebrew Sonnet During the Renaissance And the Baroque;
    Shevil ha-zahav: Ha-sonet ha-Ivri bi-tekufat ha-Renesans veha-Barok;
    Tseror zehuvim: Sonetim Ivriyim mi-tekufat ha-Renesans veha-Barok;
    Sharsheret ha-zahav : ha-sonet ha-`Ivri le-dorotav.
    One man’s joke is a woman’s career.

  2. Is there anything I wasn’t born too late for?

  3. […] by, with swords and spears equipped, a Sheban caravan, Led forth by tinkling bells and singing moons1 across the […]

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Are you a Russian spam robot? Prove it: *