Feb 142013

This is the way the book ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

Admiel Kosman (1957 – )
For Sweetly Sweet Is Death

for sweetly sweet is Death
and slowly slowly Death
if out my mouth slipped Death
and tied me to the tree

for sweetly sweet is Death
and leaning towards me’s Death
my lips are kissed by Death
but his heart comes inbetween

out out you bitter Death1
and hold me tightly Death
come and tie a ring of death
to the heart shocked still in me

break me hit me Death
make me ill2 O Death
please a rod of iron, Death
take skulls and shatter free

אדמיאל קוסמן
כי מתוק מתוק המוות

כְּי מָתוֹק מָתוֹק הַמָּוֶת
וּלְאַט לְאַט הַמָּוֶת
אִם יָצָא מִפִּי הַמָּוֶת
וְקָשַׁר אוֹתִי לָעֵץ
כְּי מָתוֹק מָתוֹק הַמָּוֶת
וְרוֹכֵן אֵלַי הַמָּוֶת
מְנַשֵׁק אוֹתִי הַמָּוֶת
רַק לִבּוֹ לְפִיו חוֹצֵץ
צֵא צֵא מַר מָוֶת
הַחֲזֵק אוֹתִי הַמָּוֶת
בּוֹא וּקְשֹׁר טַבַּעַת מָוֶת
עַל לִבִּי הַמִּשְׁתָּבֵץ
שְׁבֹר הַכֵּה אוֹתִי הַמָּוֶת
הַחֲלֵה אוֹתִי הַמָּוֶת
אָנָּא מוֹט בַּרְזֶל הַמָּוֶת
קַח גֻּלְגֹּלֶת וְרוֹצֵץ


Ki matók matók ha-mávet
U-le’át le’át ha-mávet
‘Im yatzá mi-pí ha-mávet
Ve-kashár ‘otí la-ʕeitz

Ki matók matók ha-mávet
Ve-rokhéin ‘eilái ha-mávet
Menashéik ‘otí ha-mávet
Rak libó le-fív ḥotzéitz

Tzei tzei mar mávet
Haḥazéik ‘otí ha-mávet
Bo ukhsór tabaʕát mávet
ʕal libí ha-mishtavéitz

Shvór hakéih ‘otí ha-mávet
Haḥaléih ‘otí ha-mávet
‘Ána mot barzél ha-mávet
Kaḥ gulgólet ve-rotzéitz

  1. As has been helpfully pointed out to me, the phrase mar mavet can mean “a drop of death” (my original translation), “the bitterness of death” (cf. 1 Samuel 15:32), or “Mister Death.” Kosman seems to be playing with all three meanings.
  2. This verb can also mean “to sweeten” or “to arouse someone’s compassion”.

  3 Responses to “Admiel Kosman, “Ki Matok Matok Ha-Mavet””

  1. I assume the title in Hebrew is כי מתוק מתוק המות and not הוראות על הקופסה (a fine poem in its own right).

    It seems to me that מר מות is not only “a drop of death” but also playing both with the title (like Mr. Death) and the idea of “the bitterness of death”: cf. I Samuel 15:32, which this poem reminds me of in a number of ways.

  2. Huh. You know, I got the double meaning of “bitter,” but I completely forgot that “mar” also means “mister.” (Is it because I’m not very polite?) I went with “drop” because “tzei tzei” reminded me of “out, damned spot, out” and so death then had to be something that could be removed. Good catch on the Samuel, too. Now I don’t know how to translate it. I think I’ll go with “bitter,” although I did also consider “mister.” Damn you, wordplay.

  3. Wow, thanks for the input! I actually like the “damned spot” allusion, and of course the drop-death alliteration to match mar-mawweth. Wordplay… What can you do?

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