Jan 122013

Apparently what the kids are doing these days – what is, as it is said, popping on the streets – is deciding to hastily elope without undertaking the time-honored tradition of assembling their friends and family and getting them all discombobulated on free liquor. It’s madness is what it is. So to certain mad and heedless young people – they know who they are – I dedicate this, ahem, “epithalamium.”

Yaakov Frances (1615 – 1667)
‘Twixt Branches

‘Twixt branches, my friends, you sparrows of song,
You swallows of psalms, let’s sing so all hear it,
For these lovers’ sake, so drunken on spirits,
That were joined here today, with revels lifelong!

May our tributes, my brothers, the praises we sing
Be fine wine, free of dregs, brimming full;
The face of Desire we’ll turn white as wool:
For us he’s no longer our judge nor our king!

For it’s not his hand that couples or sunders —
To drink and get drunk, that’s why these two were wedded!
Desire is nothing and naught, they opine.

And so let us sing it aloud: long live wine!
With the strength of its hands, even love’s been defeated —
It’s awesome in praises, performing great wonders!1

יעקב פראנשיס
מבין עפיים

מִבֵּין עֳפָיִים נִתְּנָה קוֹלוֹת,
רֵעַי, עֲגוּרֵי שִׁיר, דְּרוֹרֵי זֶמֶר,
לִכְבוֹד שְׁנֵי דוֹדִים שְׁכוּרֵי חֶמֶר,
שֶׁחֻבְּרוּ הַיּוֹם לְרֹב גִּילוֹת.
אַחַי, שְׁבָחֵינוּ וּמַהְלָלֵינוּ
יִהְיוּ לְיֵין הַטּוֹב בְּלִי כָּל שֶׁמֶר.
נַלְבִּין פְּנֵי חֵשֶׁק כְּהַלְבִּין צֶמֶר:
לֹא עוֹד יְהִי שׁוֹפֵט וְשַׂר עָלֵינוּ,
כִּי לֹא יְמִינוֹ הֶחֱבִירָה אֵלֶּה —
לִשְׁתּוֹת וְלִשְׁכֹּר יַחֲדָו נִקְשָׁרוּ,
חֵשֶׁק לְאֶפֶס חָשְׁבוּ וּלְאַיִן.
אִם כֵּן, בְּקוֹל נָשִׁיר: יְחִי הַיַּיִן!
יָדָיו עֲלֵי הָאַהֲבָה גָּבָרוּ —
נוֹרָא תְהִלּוֹת הוּא וְעוֹשֶׂה פֶלֶא!


Mi-béin ʕofayím nitnáh kolót,
Reiʕái, ʕaguréi shir, droréi zémer,
Likhvód shnéi dodím shkhuréi ḥémer,
She-ḥubrú ha-yóm le-róv gilót.

‘Aḥái, shevaḥéinu u-mahelaléinu
Yiheyú le-yéin ha-tóv bli kol shémer.
Nalbín penéi ḥéishek ke-halbín tzémer:
Lo ʕod yehí shoféit ve-sár ʕaléinu,

Ki lo yeminó heḥbírah ‘éileh —
Lishtót ve-lishkór yaḥadáv niksháru,
Ḥéishek le-‘éfes ḥashvú u-le-‘áyin.

‘Im kein, be-kól nashír: yeḥí ha-yáyin!
Yadáv ʕaléi ha-‘ahaváh gaváru —
Norá tehilót hu ve-ʕoséh féle!

  1. If you don’t pick up this clever invocation of a Biblical text, even in English, you’re not worthy of calling yourself a Jew. But for reference, it’s Exodus 15:11, and every Shaharit service ever, and I think even The Prince of Egypt.

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