Jan 162013

I am terribly ill. But if I saw a blank spot on that stupid sidebar calendar after this long, it would eat away at me. So here, from the very depths of my disorientation, is a (short) translation.

Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik (1873 – 1934)
I Lurked Through the Night

I lurked through the night at your chamber
So desolate were you, not speaking;
With bewildered eyes at the window
Your spirit, astray, you were seeking —

You sought recompense for the faith of your youth1
And yet, my beloved, you failed to see it,
For like a dove trembling weak at your window
Struggled and doubted my spirit.

חיים נחמן ביאליק
הלילה ארבתי

הַלַּיְלָה אָרַבְתִּי עַל-חַדְרֵךְ
וָאֶרְאֵךְ שֹׁמֵמָה הֶחֱרַשְׁתְּ;
בְּעֵינַיִךְ הַנְּבוּכוֹת בַּחַלּוֹן
נִשְׁמָתֵךְ הָאֹבְדָה בִּקַּשְׁתְּ –

בִּקַּשְׁתְּ אֶת-גְּמוּל חֶסֶד נְעוּרָיִךְ –
וְאַתְּ לֹא-רָאִית, אֲהוּבָתִי,
כִּי כְּיוֹנָה חֲרֵדָה בְּחַלּוֹנֵךְ
הִתְחַבְּטָה, הִתְלַבְּטָה נִשְׁמָתִי.


Ha-láiloh orávti al khádreikh
Vo-éreikh shoyméimoh hekhrásht;
Be-eináyikh hanvúkhoys ba-kháloyn
Nishmóseikh ho-óyvdoh bikásht —

Bikásht es gmúl khésed ne’uráyikh —
Ve-at lo ró’is, ahuvósi,
Ki ke-yóynoh kharéidoh be-khalóyneikh
Hiskhábtoh, hislábtoh nishmósi.

  1. Jeremiah 2:2: “Thus says the Lord: I remember the devotion (“faith”) of your youth, the love of your betrothal, how you followed after me in the desert, in a land unsown.” Probably my favorite verse of the Bible outside of the Song of Songs!

  2 Responses to “Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik, “Ha-Lailah Aravti””

  1. In the line “Bikásht es gmúl khésed ne’uráyikh” the word נְעוּרָיִךְ would be “nuróyikh” in Ashkenazis. A trisyllabic reading is the only way the meter makes sense, too.

    Also In the subsequent line לא should be “loy” not “lo.”

  2. This poem always seemed to me to be really creepy. Stalkerish

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