Jan 212013
 

It is (to use the meteorological term) cold as a motherfucker today. And while I was outside with the dog, still (to use the medical term) sick as a motherfucker, hacking out instantly frozen bits of my lungs into the icy wind, this classic Bialik number about a very cold day came to mind. This is actually the first section of a poem in two parts, but what does anyone honestly expect from me anymore. I’m mostly cough syrup and ennui at this point.

Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik (1873 – 1934)
From the Winter Poems (Part 1)

Down the Rock cast a day cut out from quartz,
A cruel day, compacted of cold, ice and frost.

The heights of the heavens, the sweep of the earth,
The light and the air, as if one piece of work.

The world must have softened; the Maker, so facile,
Surely set it by night on the back of his anvil,

His hammer raised high, a great blow from his arm,
God summoned his might and breathed forth: be you firm!

The whole night ‘twixt hammer and anvil he pounded,
As if all his might, so it seemed, he endowed it.

And so with the sun came a day fierce and bristling,
With might everlasting kept sealed in and glistening.

And scintillas of radiance in the air are yet gleaming,
From the spirit of God, from his mouth’s breath yet steaming.

And through them the morning light filters so precious,
Its warmth snatched away, nothing left but its radiance.

There’s no end to the radiance, the frost’s white is boundless,
From ground unto heaven, from house unto forest.

And through thirteen sieves the day’s snowfall is sifted,
As if all has been covered in glass, pale and limpid.

Like helmets of marble seem the roofs now in view,
And half of them sparkle, and half are sky-blue,

In the eyes of all life and the sun how they shimmer —
With only the ravens to make them seem dimmer,

On the hyaline coating they’re slipping and squawking,
And pecking and scratching — and off in flight flocking.

And the smoke of the chimneys, like the Ancient One’s beard,
Curls skyward in splendor; in the heights disappears.

And through all creation, ice ablaze seethes and courses,
And plants like a nail in all hearts mighty forces;

So solid and lucid’s the world! Know its might —
To hold itself back, to bind its strength tight.

From such might kept in check, such powers held under
Great oaks in the forest would be rent asunder.

As if bound up in chains were the pillars of Earth,
The very same moment they thought they might burst,

And yet ‘gainst their shackles they still clang and clatter —
And ere long before them the world’s bound to shatter!

חיים נחמן ביאליק
משירי החורף, חלק א


הַצּוּר הוֹרִיד לָנוּ יוֹם חָזָק מִצֹּר,
יוֹם עָז, מוּצָק אֶחָד כְּפוֹר, קֶרַח וָקֹר.

רוּם עוֹלָם, כָּל-כַּדּוּר הָאָרֶץ מִתַּחַת,
הָאוֹר וְהָאַוֵּר כְּעֵין מִקְשָׁה אַחַת.

אֵין זֹאת כִּי נִתְרוֹפֵף הָעוֹלָם – וּנְתָנוֹ
הַיּוֹצֵר בַּלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה עַל-גַּב סְדָנוֹ,

וַיָּנֶף פַּטִּישׁוֹ, וּבְהַלְמוּת עֲנָק
אֵל קָרָא לַכֹּחַ וַיִּשֹּׁם: חֲזָק!

וְלֵיל תָּמִים בֵּין פַּטִּישׁ וּסְדָן אוֹתוֹ רִקַּע,
וּכְאִלּוּ כָל-כֹּחוֹ, כִּבְיָכוֹל, בּוֹ שִׁקַּע.

וַיֵּצֵא עִם-שֶׁמֶשׁ יוֹם עַזִּיז וּמְסֻמָּר
וְכֹחַ עוֹלָמִים בּוֹ חָסוּם וּמְשֻׁמָּר.

וְעוֹד תְּלוּיִם בָּאַוֵּר צַחְצוּחֵי הַזִּיו
מִנִּשְׁמַת אֱלוֹהַּ, מֵאֵד רוּחַ פִּיו.

וְאוֹר בֹּקֶר מִסְתַּנֵּן עֲלֵיהֶם בִּיקָרוֹ,
וְנִטַּל כָּל-חֻמּוֹ וְנִשְׁאַר זָהֳרוֹ.

וְאֵין סוֹף לַלַּבְנוּנִית וְלַזֹּהַר אֵין קֵץ,
מִתַּחְתִּית עַד-רוֹם וּמִבַּיִת עַד-עֵץ.

וְהַשֶּׁלֶג בִּשְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה נָפָה מְנֻפֶּה,
כַּזְּכוּכִית הַלְּבָנָה עַל-כֻּלָּם מְצֻפֶּה.

וְהַגַּגּוֹת כְּכוֹבְעֵי הַשַּׁיִשׁ מַרְאִיתָם,
מַחֲצִיתָם מַבְהִיקִים וְעֵין תְּכֵלֶת מַחֲצִיתָם,

וּלְעֵינֵי כָל-חַי וְהַשֶּׁמֶשׁ מַזְהִירִים –
הָעוֹרְבִים לְבַדָּם עַל-גַּבָּם מַשְׁחִירִים,

מַחֲלִיקִים עַל-צִפּוּי הַזְּכוּכִית וְצֹרְחִים,
מְנַקְּרִים וְשׂרְטִים – וּפִתְאֹם הֵם פֹּרְחִים.

וַעֲשַׁן הָאֲרֻבּוֹת, כִּזְקַן עַתִּיק יוֹמִין,
מִסְתַּלְסֵל בֶּהָדָר וְנִשָּׂא לִמְרוֹמִים.

וְהַקֶּרַח הַלֹּהֵט בַּכֹּל מְפַעְפֵּעַ,
וּבְלֶב-כֹּל אוֹן אֵיתָן כַּמַּסְמֵר נוֹטֵעַ;

וּבָהִיר וּמוּצָק הָעוֹלָם! זֶה-כֹּחוֹ –
שֶׁכּוֹבֵשׁ אֶת-עַצְמוֹ וְהוּא חָזָק מִתּוֹכוֹ.

מֵרֹב אַמֵּץ כֹּחַ, מֵרֹב עֹצֶר אוֹנִים
מִתְבַּקְּעִים בַּיַּעַר חֲסִינֵי אַלּוֹנִים.

כְּמוֹ רֻתְּקוּ בַזִּקִּים כָּל-מְצוּקֵי הָאָרֶץ
בְּאוֹתוֹ הָרֶגַע שֶׁחִשְּׁבוּ הִתְפָּרֶץ,

וְהֵם חוֹתְרִים וְחוֹרְגִים מִמִּסְגְּרוֹתֵיהֶם –
עוֹד מְעַט וְהִתְפּוֹצֵץ הַכַּדּוּר מִפְּנֵיהֶם!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ha-tzúr hóyrid lónu yoym khózok mi-tzóyr,
Yoym oz, mútzok ékhod kfóyr, kérakh va-kóyr.

Rum óylom, kol kódur ho-óretz mi-tákhas,
Ho-óyr ve-ho-áveir ke-éin míkshoh ákhas.

Ein zoys ki nisróyfeif ho-óylom — unsánoy
Ha-yóytzeir ba-láiloh ha-zéh al gav sdánoy,

Va-yónef patíshoy, uvhálmus anók,
Eil kóro la-kóyakh va-yíshoym: khazók!

Ve-léil tómim bein pátish usdón óysoy ríka,
Ukhílu khol kóykho, kivyókhoyl, boy shíka.

Va-yéitzei im shémesh yoym áziz umsúmor
Ve-khóyakh oylómim boy khósum umshúmor.

Ve-óyd tlúyim bo-áveir tzakhtzúkhei ha-zív
Mi-níshmas elóah, mei-éid rúakh piv.

Ve-óyr bóyker mistánein aléiheim bikóroy,
Ve-nítal kol khúmoy ve-níshar zohóroy.

Ve-éin soyf la-lavnúnis ve-la-zóyhar ein keitz,
Mi-tákhtis ad roym u-mi-báyit ad eitz.

Ve-ha-shéleg bishlósh esréh nófoh menúpeh,
Kazkhúkhis halvónoh al kúlom metzúpeh.

Ve-ha-gágoys ke-kóyvei ha-sháyish marísom,
Makhtzísom mavhíkim ve-éin tekhéiles makhtzísom,

U-le-éinei khol khai ve-ha-shémesh mazhírim —
Ho-óyrvim levádom al gábom mashkhírim,

Makhlíkim al tzipúi hazkhúkhis ve-tzóyrkhim,
Menákrim ve-sóyrtim — u-físoym heim póyrkhim.

Va-ashán ho-arúboys, kizkán átik yóymin,
Mistálseil be-hódor ve-níso limróymim.

Ve-ha-kérakh ha-lóyheit ba-kóyl mefapéi’a,
Uv-lév-kol oyn éiton ka-másmeir noytéi’a;

U-vóhir u-mútzok ho-óylom! Zeh kóykhoy —
She-kóyvesh es átzmoy ve-hú khózok mi-tóykhoy.

Mei-róyv ámeitz kóyakh, mei-róyv óytzer óynim
Misbákim ba-yá’ar khasínei alóynim.

Kmoy rútku va-zíkim kol metzúkei ho-óretz
Be-óysoy ho-réga she-khíshvu hispóretz,

Ve-héim khóysrim ve-khóyrgim mi-misgeroyséihem —
Oyd me’át ve-hispóytzeitz ha-kádur mipnéihem!

  One Response to “Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik, “Mi-Shirei ha-Ḥoref” (Part 1)”

  1. i am truly thankful that i have never witnessed such a winter as the one described here. one of the significant comforts of life in south texas.

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