Jan 092013
 

HE WAS ON A HIGHER SPIRITUAL MADREIGAH OKAY?!

Todros Abulafia (1247 – after 1300)
In Loving a Girl

In loving a girl, there’s no shame and no sin
  If lads lust for a lass, there’s no crime!
But by law you must lust for Arab girls only —
  Even if not fair or pure or sublime.
And keep far away from all Spanish girls
  Though bright as the sun they may shine;1
Do not Spanish girls completely lack grace,
  Though covered in silk, woven linens so fine?2
Their garments are full of filth and of mud,
  The impurity in their skirts3 is so vile.
They’ll capture no hearts the way they whore around,
  They’re simple in whoring; they know nothing worthwhile.4
But each Arab girl’s full of beauty and grace,
  She captures the heart, calms the clamorous mood,
As if all her clothes were inlaid with gold
  She charms those who see her – especially nude!
On the day of the deed,5 she won’t fail to please,
  In whoring she’s handy, in lust an artiste,
She’ll wrap her legs tight6 around a man’s neck,
  And moaning out, “Oh!” — she’d raise the deceased!
Against this the man who lusts for a Spaniard
  Might as well be a man who sleeps with a beast!7

טודרוס אבולעפיה / طدروس أبو العافية
באהבת נערה

 
בְּאַהְבַת נַעֲרָה אֵין חֵטְא וְאַשְׁמָה
 וְאֵין רַע בַּחֲשֹׁק עֶלֶם לְעַלְמָה,
אֲבָל דָּת לַחֲשֹׁק כָּל בַּת עֲרָבִים —
 וְאִם לֹא תִהְיֶה יָפָה וְתַמָּה,
וְלִרְחֹק עַד מְאֹד מִכָּל אֲדוֹמִית —
 וְאִלּוּ תִהְיֶה בָרָה כְּחַמָּה.
הֲכִי אֶל בַּת אֱדוֹם אֵין חֵן, וְאִלּוּ
 תְכַס מֶשִׁי וְתִלְבַּשׁ שֵׁשׁ וְרִקְמָה:
בְּגָדֶיהָ מְלֵאִים טִיט וְחֶלְאָה
 וְטֻמְאָתָהּ בְּשׁוּלֶיהָ זְהוּמָה,
וְלֹא תִּקַח זְנוּתָהּ לֵב, הֲכִי הִיא
 פְתַיּוּת בַּזְּנוּת, בַּל יָדְעָה מָּה.
אֲבָל כָּל בַּת עֲרָב חֵן לָהּ וְיֹפִי
 מְלַבֵּב לֵב וּמֵסִיר כָּל מְהוּמָה,
כְּאִלּוּ מִשְׁבְּצוֹת זָהָב לְבוּשָׁה,
 לְרוֹאָהּ תִּיף, וְאִם תִּהְיֶה עֲרֻמָּה!
וְיוֹם הַמַּעֲשֶׂה תִּנְעַם, וּבִזְנוּת
 תְּבוּנָה לָהּ, וּבַזִּמָּה מְזִמָּה,
בְּצַוַּאר הָאֱנוֹשׁ תִּרְקַע בְּרַגְלָהּ
 וְתֹאמַר: ״אָח!״ וְהַמֵּת חַי מְקִימָה.
לְזֹאת חוֹשֵׁק אֲדוֹמִית הוּא כְאָדָם
 אֲשֶׁר יִתֵּן שְׁכָבְתּוֹ בַּבְּהֵמָה!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Be-‘ahavát naʕaráh ‘ein ḥeit ve-‘ashmáh
Ve-‘éin raʕ ba-ḥashók ʕélem le-ʕalmáh,
‘Avál dat laḥashók kol bat ʕaravím —
Ve-‘ím lo tiheyéh yafáh ve-tamáh,
Ve-lirḥók ʕad me’ód mi-kól ‘adomít —
Ve-‘ílu tiheyéh varáh ke-ḥamáh.
Hakhí ‘el bat ‘edóm ein ḥein, ve-‘ílu
Tekhás méshi ve-tilbásh sheish ve-rikmáh:
Begadéha melei’ím tit ve-ḥel’áh
Ve-tum’atáh be-shuléha zehumáh,
Ve-ló tikáḥ zenutáh leiv, hakhí hi
Fetayút ba-zenút, bal yadʕáh mah.
‘Aval kol bat ʕaráv ḥein lah ve-yófi
Melabéiv leiv u-meisír kol mehumáh,
Ke-‘ílu mishbetzót zaháv levusháh,
Le-ro’áh tif, ve-‘ím tiheyéh ʕarumáh!
Ve-yóm ha-maʕaséh tinʕám, u-viznút
Tevunáh lah, u-va-zimáh mezimáh,
Be-tzavár ha-‘enósh tirkáʕ be-ragláh
Ve-tomár: “Aḥ!” ve-ha-méit ḥai mekimáh.
Le-zót ḥoshéik ‘adomíit hu khe-‘adám
‘Ashér yitéin shekhavtó babheimáh!

  1. Song of Songs 6:10.
  2. Ezekiel 16:10.
  3. Lamentations 1:9.
  4. Proverbs 9:13.
  5. 1 Samuel 20:19.
  6. Ezekiel 6:11, re-interpreting the verb raka`.
  7. Leviticus 20:15.

  2 Responses to “Todros Abulafia, “Be-‘Ahavat Na`arah””

  1. Thinking maybe “ach” might just be meant to be a loud, sharp noise (see, e.g. modern facebook Hebrew’s version of “hahahaha” = “khakhakha”, or a bunch of khets in a row.)

  2. You know, that actually occurred to me as I was translating, but it’s sort of ambiguous, so I “split the difference” and translated “ach” as “brother” but “tomar” as “moaning.”

    Also, I reeeallly wanted to translate “zenut” as “fucking,” because that’s really closer to what he’s saying than “whoring” (even if that’s what “zenut” literally means), but…you know…propriety.

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