Jan 172013

One of the very last Hebrew poets of Spain, before Hebrew culture in Iberia was eradicated during the, y’know, unpleasantness. I have chosen it because it is a tajnis, and thus short enough to translate in the brief window the last of this left-over root canal Vicodin has me feeling more or less like a human being. Soon enough, it will be back to alternately shivering uncontrollably and soaking through my sheets with sweat, and being unable to swallow. I’m so happy to be alive. Every day holds wonderful new surprises.

The Key Word in this tajnis is tzir, which can mean “envoy,” “intense pain” or “hinge/axis.” Also “sauce” and “contraction” (as in childbirth). It’s a handy word.

Vidal Benveniste (15th century)
O Shapely Girl

O shapely girl, my thoughts have so desired you
  That as an envoy to your mercy they’ve sent this poem
So it might let you know how great their pain has grown
  How your grace and beauty seized them with distress
The torment of your parting encompasses their heart
  Like the turning of a door upon a hinge.

וידאל בנבנשת
יפת תואר

יְפַת תֹּאַר שְׂעִפַּי חָשְׁקוּ בָךְ / וְשִׁירָם זֶה לְחַסְדֵּךְ שָׁלְחוּ צִיר
לְהַגִּיד לָךְ אֲשֶׁר גָּדַל כְּאֵבָם / וְעַל חִנֵּךְ וְיָפְיֵךְ יֹאחֲזֵם צִיר
וְצִיר נוּדֵךְ עֲלֵי לִבָּם יְסֹבֵב / כְּמוֹ דֶּלֶת אֲשֶׁר תִּסֹּב עֲלֵי צִיר


Yefát tó’ar seʕipái ḥashkú vakh / ve-shirám zeh le-ḥasdéikh shalḥú tzir
Lehagíd lakh ‘ashér gadál ke’eivám / ve-ʕál ḥinéikh ve-yofyéikh yoḥazéim tzir
Ve-tzír nudéikh ʕaléi libám yesovéiv / kemó délet ‘ashér tisóv ʕaléi tzir.

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