Jan 222013
 

Flight-light-white-bright and rise-skies-guise-eyes may seem like the romantic sonnet equivalent of rhyme-biter’s rhymes, to use the technical prosodic term, but I actually didn’t go too far off the Hebrew-original reservation. After several hundred years of English sonnetry, this may seem a little played out, but remember, few are as dope as Immanuel, who was doing it when it was still so fresh and so clean-clean.

Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
Who’d Believe, O My Fawn

Who’d believe, O my fawn, that your two eyes take flight
And cloaked in a whirlwind towards heaven they rise?
For I see them at dusk, in the evening skies,
And I see them by day, in your face’s clear light.

My spirit is hung on your earrings, so bright,
For in them I see Egypt’s sorcery’s guise.
And I’ll always see you, desire of my eyes,
In the stars of your dawn, and your teeth, so hail-white!

I ask, graceful doe, that you tell me outright:
Are your eyes heaven’s stars, taken captive by day,
And by night once more unto the heavens then thrust?

Or are they the stars’ likeness, while your face’s light
Is the like of the spheres up on high? I daresay
Beside you, all the does are mere droplets and dust.

עמנואל הרומי
מי האמין עפרה

 
מִי הֶאֱמִין עָפְרָה אֲשֶׁר עֵינַיִךְ
הֵם יַעֲלוּ בַסַּעֲרָה שָׁמַיִם
כִּי אֶחֱזֵם שַׁחַק בְּבֵין עַרְבַּיִם
וָאֶחֱזֵם יוֹמָם בְּאוֹר פָּנַיִךְ.
 
חַיַּי תְּלוּיִים בַּעֲגִיל אָזְנַיִךְ
כִּי אֶחֱזֶה בּוֹ מַעֲשֵׂה מִצְרַיִם
עוֹד אֶחֱזֶה בָּךְ תַּאֲוַת עֵינַיִם
עַל כּוֹכְבֵי שַׁחְרֵךְ בְּרַד שִׁנַּיִךְ.
 
אֶשְׁאַל צְבִיַּת חֵן הֲאִם עֵינַיִךְ
הֵם כּוֹכְבֵי שַׁחַק וְתִקְחִים בִּשְׁבִי
יוֹמָם וְלַיְלָה יַעֲלוּ בַשַּׁחַק?
 
אוֹ הֵם דְּמוּת כּוֹכָב וְאוֹר פָּנַיִךְ
דִּמְיוֹן גְּלִילֵי רוֹם? אֲשֶׁר כָּל הַצְּבִ־
יּוֹת לָךְ כְּמוֹ מַר מִדְּלִי וּכְשַׁחַק!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Mi he’emín ʕofráh ‘ashér ʕeináyikh
Heim yaʕalú va-saʕaráh shamáyim
Ki ‘eḥezéim sháḥak be-véin ʕarbáyim
Va-‘eḥezéim yomám be-‘ór panáyikh.

Ḥayái teluím ba-ʕagíl ‘oznáyikh
Ki ‘eḥezéh bo maʕaséih mitzráyim
ʕod ‘eḥezéh bakh ta’avát ʕeináyim
ʕal kokhvéi shaḥréikh berád shináyikh.

‘Esh’ál tzeviyát ḥein ha-‘ím ʕeináyikh
Heim kokhvéi sháḥak ve-tikḥím bishví
Yomám ve-láilah yaʕalú va-sháḥak?

‘O heim demút kokháv ve-‘ór panáyikh
Dimyón geliléi rom? ‘Ashér kol ha-tzeví-
yot lakh kemó mar midlí u-khe-sháḥak!