Jan 312013

A pretty little poem about (according to the superscription in the diwan) a field of violets. And also about being hungover.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
And Early

And early, well-smitten by amity’s wine,
  unable to ramble, we rose
Unto the meadow whose winds scattered spices
  sweet-scented like cassia or cloves1
The sun had embroidered its surface with blossoms
  which over it spread azure clothes.

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا

וְהִשְׁכַּמְנוּ הֲלוּמֵי יֵין יְדִידוֹת / וְאֵין בָּנוּ לְהִתְהַלֵּךְ יְכֹלֶת
אֱלֵי כַר נָפְחוּ רוּחֵי בְשָׂמָיו / וְהֵרִיחוּ כְּקִדָּה אוֹ שְׁחֵלֶת
וְשֶׁמֶשׁ רָקְמָה פָנָיו בְּצִצִּים / וְעָלָיו פָּרְשׂוּ בֶגֶד תְּכֵלֶת.


Ve-hishkámnu haluméi yein yedidót / ve-‘éin bánu lehithaléikh yekhólet
‘Eléi khar nafḥú ruḥéi vesamáv / ve-heiríḥu ke-kidáh ‘o sheḥéilet
Ve-shémesh rakmáh fanáv be-tzitzím / ve-ʕaláv parsú béged tekhéilet.

  1. Sheḥeilet. An ingredient in the Temple incense whose exact identity is highly, highly disputed. I would mock whoever composed that lengthy and exhaustively footnoted Wikipedia entry on something so utterly inconsequential, but then again, I translate Hebrew poetry on the Internet. In any case, I went with “cloves,” because they’re nice-smelling, consonant and in keeping, more or less, with the rhyme scheme. And they turned out to be a potential candidate according to Rav Wikipedia anyway!

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