Oct 082013
 

I keep getting distracted (trust me, you would too). But is there anyone else out there translating poetry in Jamaican patois into Hebrew? Man, if there is…

Anyway, this is a later piece by Inglan’s top-raaankin’ dub poet, much more personal and introspective than the Brixton-burning anthems of his youth (“wi gonna smash dere brains in, cos they ain’t got nuffink in ’em…”). And unlike most of the poems on this waste of space of a website, this one comes with riddim! Always one of my favorite tracks.

(A note: there is no universally accepted orthography for Jamaican patois, but this is Johnson’s own particular method.)

Linton Kwesi Johnson - Hurricane Blues

Linton Kwesi Johnson
Hurricane Blues

langtime lovah
mi mine run pan yuh all di while
an mi membah how fus time
di two a wi come een — it did seem
like two shallow likkle snakin stream
mawching mapless hapless a galang
tru di ruggid landscape a di awt sang

an a soh wi did a gwaan
sohtil dat fateful day
awftah di pashan a di hurricane
furdah dan imaginaeshan ar dream
wi fine wiself lay-dung pan di same bedrack
flowin now togedah as wan stream
ridin sublime tru love lavish terrain
lush an green an brite awftah di rain
shimmarin wid glittahrin eyes
glowin in di glare a di smilin sun

langtime lovah
mi feel blue fi true wen mi tink bout yuh
blue like di sky lingahrin pramis af rain
in di leakin lite in di hush af a evenin twilite
wen mi membah how fus time
di two a wi come een — it did seem
like a lang lang rivah dat is wide an deep

sometime wi woz silent like di langwidge a rackstone
some time wi woodah sing wi rivah sang as wi a wine a galang
sometime wi jus cool an caam andah plenty shady tree
sometime sawfly lappin bamboo root as dem swing an sway
sometime cascadin carefree doun a steep gully bank
sometime turbulent in tempament wi flood wi bank
but weddah ebb ar flow tru rain tru drout
wi nevah stray far fram love rigid rout

ole-time sweet-awt
up till now mi still cyaan andastan
ow wi get bag doun inna so much silt an san
rackstone debri lag-jam
sohtil wi ad woz fi flow wi separet pawt
now traversin di tarrid terrain a love landscape
runnin fram di polueshan af a cantrite awt
mi lang fi di marvelous miracle a hurricane
fi carry mi goh a meetin stream again
lamentid mi saltid fate
sohmizin seh it too late1

לינטון קווייסי ג’ונסון
בלוז ההוריקן


מְאַהֶבֶת וְתִיקָה
כָּל הַזְּמַן אֲנִי מְהַרְהֵר בָּךְ
וַאֲנִי זוֹכֵר שֶׁבְּפַעַם הָרִאשׁוֹנָה
נִכְנַסְנוּ שְׁנֵינוּ — אָז זֶה נִדְמָה
כִּשְׁנֵי נְחָלִים קְטָנִים רְדוּדִים מִתְפַּתְּלִים
צוֹעֲדִים אֻמְּלָלִים מִתְהַלְּכִים בְּלִי מַּפּוֹת
בְּאֶרֶץ מְחֻסְפֶּסֶת שֶׁל שִׁיר לְבָבוֹת.

וְאָז כָּכָה הִמְשַׁכְנוּ
עֲדֵי יוֹם הֲרֵה גּוֹרָל
בְּעִקְבוֹת תְּשׁוּקַת הַהוּרִיקָן
מֵעֵבֶר לְדִּמְיוֹן אוֹ הֲזָיַתוֹ שֶׁל חוֹלֵם
עֲלֵי אוֹתוֹ סֶלַע־אֵם הֻשְּׁכַּבְנוּ
וְאָנוּ יַחַד זוֹרְמִים כְּנָחָל זוֹרֵם
רוֹכְבִים נִשְׂגָבִים בְּאַרְצוֹת אַהֲבָה בְּשִׁפְעָן
כְּשֶׁטַח אַחֲרֵי הַגֶּשֶׁם, בָּהִיר, יָרֹק, רַעֲנָן,
בּוֹהֲקִים בְּעֵינַיִם מַבְרִיקוֹת
לוֹהֲטִים בְּזָהֳרוֹ שֶׁל חִיּוּךְ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ.

מְאַהֶבֶת וְתִיקָה
אֲנִי בֶּאֱמֶת כָּחֹל כְּשֶׁאֲנִי חוֹשֵׁב עָלַיִךְ
כָּחֹל כְּמוֹ הָהַבְטָחָה הַמִּשְׁתַּהָה שֶׁל גֶּשֶׁם בַּשָּמַיִם
בָּאוֹר הַדּוֹלֵף בְּדִמְמַת דִּמְדוּמֵי הָעֶרֶב
כְּשֶׁאֲנִי זוֹכֵר שֶׁבְּפַעַם הָרִאשׁוֹנָה
נִכְנַסְנוּ שְׁנֵינוּ — אָז זֶה נִדְמָה
כְּנָהָר אָרֹך גַּם רָחָב וְעָמֹק

לִפְעָמִים שָׁתַקְנוּ כִּלְשׁוֹן הַסְּלָעִים
לִפְעָמִים שָׁרְנוּ אֶת שִׁיר הַנָּהָר, מִתְפַּתְּלִים וְהוֹלְכִים
לִפְעָמִים קְרִירִים וּרְגוּעִים הָיִינוּ מִתַּחַת לְעֵץ שׁוֹפֵעַ צֵל
לִפְעָמִים מְלַקְקִים רַכּוֹת אֶת שָׁרְשֵׁי הַחִזְרָן בְּנִיעָם וְנִידָם
לִפְעָמִים עֲלִיזִים נוֹפְלִים כְּאֶשֶׁד בְּמוֹרַד תְּעָלָה תְלוּלָה
לִפְעָמִים סוֹעֲרִים בְּמֶזֶג אָנוּ מֵצִיפִים אֶת הַגָּדָה
אַךְ אִם שֵׁפֶל אוֹ גֵּאוּת אִם גֶּשֶׁם אוֹ בַּצֹּרֶת יְבֵשָׁה
אָנוּ לֹא תּוֹעִים רָחֹק מִדֶּרֶךְ אַהֲבָה הַקְּבוּעָה

מֹתֶק וָתִיק
עַד כֹּה אֲנִי עֲדַיִן לֹא מֵבִין
אֵיךְ הִסְתַּבַּכְנוּ בְּתוֹךְ הַחוֹל וְהַסְּחֹפֶת
סְלָעִים חֲסִימוֹת וּשְׁפֹכֶת
עַד שֶׁכָּל מָה שֶׁנוֹתָר לָנוּ הָיָה לִזְרוֹם בְּנִפְרַד
וּבְכֵן, חוֹצֶה אֶת שִׁטְחָן הַיּוֹקֵד שֶׁל אַרְצוֹת הָאַהֲבָה
נוֹבֵעַ מִזִּהוּמוֹ שֶׁל לֵב מָלֵא חֲרָטָה
אֲנִי מְיַחֵל שֶׁהַנֵּס הַנִּפְלָא שֶׁל הוּרִיקָן
יִשָׂא אוֹתִי לְמִפְגָּשׁ הַנְּחָלִים חִישׁ עוֹד פַּעַם
עַכְשָׁו מְקוֹנֵן עַל גּוֹרָלִי הַמַּר
מֵנִיחַ שְׁזֶּה יוֹתֵר מִדַּי מְאֻחָר
י

  1. Translation to the Queen’s for all of you who don’t listen to loads of reggae and own The Harder They Come, Rockers and Countryman (the mystical reggae kung-fu flick you’ve never heard about):

    longtime lover
    my mind dwells on you constantly
    and I remember how the first time
    the two of us came in — it seemed
    like two shallow little snaking streams
    marching mapless, going hapless along
    through the rugged landscape of the heart’s song

    And we so continued
    until that fateful day
    after the passion of the hurricane
    further than imagination or dream
    we found ourselves laid down on the same bedrock
    flowing now together as one stream
    riding sublime through love’s lavish terrain
    lush and green and bright after the rain
    shimmering with glittering eyes
    glowing in the glare of the smiling sun

    longtime lover
    I feel truly blue when I think about you
    blue like the sky’s lingering promise of rain
    in the leaking light in the hush of an evening twilight
    when I remember how the first time
    the two of us came in — it seemed
    like a long river that was wide and deep

    sometime we were silent as the language of stones
    sometimes we would sing our river song as we wound our way along
    sometimes we were just cool and calm under a generously shady tree
    sometimes softly lapping bamboo roots and they swung and swayed
    sometimes cascading carefree down a steep gully bank
    sometimes turbulent in temperament we flooded our bank
    but whether ebb or flow, through rain, through drought
    we never strayed from from love’s rigid route

    oldtime sweetheart
    even now I still can’t understand
    how we got bogged down in so much silt and sand
    rocks, debris, logjams,
    until all we had left was to flow our separate ways
    now traversing the torrid terrain of love’s landscape
    running from the pollution of a contrite heart
    I long for the marvelous miracle of a hurricane
    to carry me to that meeting stream again
    lamenting my bitter fate
    surmising that it’s too late.

  2 Responses to “לינטון קווייסי ג’ונסון, בלוז ההוריקן”

  1. I love it. The next step is for you to record yourself doing the Hebrew version WITH the undulating intonations of Jamaican English pronunciation, and then post it.

  2. To the increase of my sorrow (calquing from Hebrew), ese, while we are both basses, my voice does not have any of the sonorous musicality of Linton Kwesi Johnson’s. It is, as you well know, a wry monotone poorly suited to delicate portraits of a relationship’s aftermath delivered in an ersatz Jamaican accent. I’m not sure I could read my own poetry with a straight face. HOWEVER, should there be Jamaicans out there who read Hebrew, I did make sure that such a rare creature COULD read my version to the Hurricane Blues riddim. Never give up hope.

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