Jan 132013

I think I have the flu. I feel like death. Not even warmed over. But, you know, obligations, so before the NyQuil kicks in (hopefully), here’s a poem in Ashkenazis by one of the early standard-bearers of the modern Hebrew literary and cultural revolution. I’m not sure what exactly to call this meter…like…paeonic dimeter with tertius paeons? Does that make sense? Anyway, I managed to hold onto it in the translation, although I had to jettison the rhyme. Oh well. I will go die now.

Uri Nisan Gnessin (1879 – 1913)
Nighttime Musings

‘Gainst the shadows that are sprawling
O’er a world outside that’s sleeping
You — a flame so small, and flick’ring
And so lonely — you are fighting.

Outside — there’s the darkness…
Lying down as if she’s leaden
And around her nighttime’s demons
Crown her something kept forever.

Many days she’s been here lying,
Many candles fought against her —
Who can tell who long she’ll lay, or
Count the candles that expire?…

Oh my flame, please, won’t you kindle
The small hope within my bosom —
Maybe then my thoughts you’d scatter,
And my faith you might restore me…

אורי ניסן גנסין
הרהורי לילה

אֶת הַצְּלָלִים הַמִּשְׂתָּרְעִים
עַל הַתֵּבֵל הַנִּרְדָּמָה
אַתְּ – שַׁלְהֶבֶת קְטַנָּה, כֵּהָה
וּבוֹדֵדָה – אַתְּ נִלְחָמָה.
בַחוּץ – שָׁם הָעֲלָטָה…
הִיא רוֹבֶצֶת כָּעוֹפֶרֶת,
וּמִסְּבִיבָהּ שֵׁדֵי-לַיִל
יַעַטְרוּהָ לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת.
יָמִים רַבִּים הִיא רוֹבֶצֶת,
נֵרוֹת רַבִּים בָּהּ נִלְחָמוּ –
וּמִי יַגִּיד כַּמָּה תִּרְבַּץ,
כַּמָּה נֵרוֹת עוֹד יִתָּמּוּ ?…
הוֹי הַדְלִיקִי, הַשַּׁלְהֶבֶת,
אֶת הַתִּקְוָה תּוֹךְ לִבָּתִי –
אוּלַי תָּפִיץ מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי,
אוּלַי תָּשִׁיב אֱמוּנָתִי…


Es ha-tzlólim ha-mistór’im
Al ha-téiveil ha-nirdómoh
At — shalhéves ktánoh, kéihoh
U-voydéidoh — at nilkhómoh.

Ba-khútz — shom holótoh…
Hi royvétzes ko-oyféres,
U-misvívoh shéidei láyil
Ya’atrúho le-mishméres.

Yómim rábim hi royvétzes,
Néiroys rábim boh nilkhómu —
U-mí yágid kámoh tírbatz,
Kámoh néiroys oyd yitámu?…

Hoi hadlíki, ha-shalhéves,
Es ha-tíkvoh toykh libósi —
Úlai tófitz makhshevóysai,
Úlai tóshiv emunósi…

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