Mar 032013

A little Song of Songs, a little Pirkei Avot, a little nod to the Andalusian school, a little Hebrew love poetry, who could ask for anything more?

Immanuel Frances (1618? – 1710?)
How Lovely, My Fawn

How lovely, my fawn, are your footsteps and footfalls
  Whenever you dance, or but tread on your pathways.
There my heart’s thoughts shall discover their comfort
  There nest my senses, in your garments’ fringes.
Indeed in my eyes have grown pleasant your paces
  ’Til deep in my body to you I would whisper:
“Oh, please may it be that today, my gazelle,
  I roll myself grey in the dust of your footprints!”

עמנואל פראנשיס
יפו פעמיך ומנעליך

יָפוּ פְעָמַיִךְ וּמַנְעָלַיִךְ,
 עָפְרָה, בְּעֵת רָקְדֵךְ וּבִשְׁבִילַיִךְ,
שָׁם מַחְשְׁבוֹת לִבִּי מְנוּחָה יִמְצְאוּ,
 שָׁם קִנְּנוּ חוּשַׁי וּבֵין שׁוּלָיִךְ.
אָכֵן צְעָדַיִךְ בְּעֵינַי נָעֲמוּ
 עַד כִּי בְקִרְבִּי אֹמְרָה אֵלָיִךְ:
מִי יִתְּנֵנִי־נָא וּמִתְאַבֵּק אֱהִי
 הַיּוֹם, צְבִיָּה, בַּעֲפַר רַגְלָיִךְ.


Yafú feʕamáyikh u-manʕaláyikh,
ʕofráh, be-ʕéit rokdéikh u-vishviláyikh,
Sham maḥshevót libí menuḥáh yimtze’ú,
Sham kinenú ḥushái u-véin shuláyikh.
‘Akhéin tzeʕadáyikh be-ʕéinai naʕamú
ʕad ki ve-kirbí ‘omráh ‘eiláyikh:
Mi yitnéini na u-mit’abéik ‘ehí
Ha-yóm, tzeviyáh, be-‘ʕafár ragláyikh.

  2 Responses to “Immanuel Frances, “Yafu Fe`amayikh””

  1. Lovely! Don’t you normally footnote the references? Now I have to remember them myself! How tedious. I assume the first line alludes to Shir haShirim 7:2, while the last two to Avot 1:4, “rolling in the dust of the sages’ feet”. Are there more?

  2. My footnoting policy is dependent on some combination of “do I catch the reference,” “do I feel like footnoting it,” and “is it one of those medieval Hebrew poems where every damn line contains a Biblical allusion and to hell with that.” That’s the nice thing about having a blog; there’s no real accountability or demand for academic rigor. I’m just some guy.

    As far as the references, I think you got them all. It also calls to mind (I assume intentionally) Yehuda ha-Levi’s “Mah Lakh Tzeviyah.”

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