Apr 192014

Another Baroque Italian poet, another scant bit of biographical information. Apparently he lived in Chieri and Casale Monferrato. What else he did, who knows.

Yaakov Segrè (late sixteenth century – after 1629?)
Woman, Heed Your Path

In all things, woman, take heed of your path
  Chasing refuge in the garb of those untrue
What are you doing, with your crimson clothes
  The company of the blemished you pursue
You’d know these things are pointless in hard times
  If your pride’s smoke you’d let the wind blow through
And so call out then, “After all I’ve seen,
  Grace is but a lie, and beauty’s empty too.”

יעקב בן יצחק סגרי
אישה בכל אלה ראי דרכך

אִשָּׁה בְּכָל־אֵלֶּה רְאִי דַרְכֵּךְ
 עֵת עֹז וּבֶגֶד בּוֹגְדִים תִּרְדֹּפִי
מַה־תַּעֲשִׂי כִּי תִלְבְּשִׁי שָׁנִי
 וַתֵּלְכִי לִדְרשׁ אֲגֻדּוֹת דֹּפִי
לֹא תֵדְעִי שַׁחְרָהּ בְּיוֹם צָרָה
 אִם אֶת־עֲשַׁן הַגַּאֲוָה תִנְדֹפִי
אָז תִּקְרְאִי ״גַּם אַחֲרֵי רֹאִי
 שֶׁקֶר מְאֹד הַחֵן וְהֶבֶל יֹפִי״.


‘Isháh be-khól ‘éileh re’í darkéikh
ʕeit ʕoz u-véged bogdím tirdófi
Mah taʕasí ki tilbeshí shaní
Va-telkhí lidrósh ‘agudót dófi
Lo teidʕí shaḥráh be-yóm tzaráh
‘Im ‘et ʕashán ha-ga’aváh tindófi
‘Az tiqre’í, “Gam ‘aḥaréi ro’í
Shéqer me’ód ha-ḥéin ve-hével yófi.”

  8 Responses to “Yaakov Segrè, “Ishah, be-Khol Eileh Re’i Darkeikh””

  1. A couple of things,

    First, I think שחרה in l. 5 might mean “meaning, point”, as in אין לו שחר. As in: You will not see it’s (=your path, chasing day-dreams) point in time of trouble.

    Secondly, it was recently discovered that Segre was not only a prolific poet (the vast majority of his poems are still in manuscripts), but he was also the author of the nuptial echo-poem “למי אחפוץ”, which was brilliantly set to music by the great Jewish Baroque composer Salomone de Rossi, as explained by Prof. Dvora Bregman here: http://www.haaretz.co.il/literature/1.1222217

    (I’ll try and find a decent recording of this)

  2. You may be right, since שחרה has a possessive, but I like my reading in light of the following line. I don’t know, Schirmann makes a lot of mistakes in nikud, and who knows the quality of the manuscripts he was originally working with, and sometimes the poets play a little fast and loose with grammar for meter’s sake, so I’ll leave my version, but your alternate version stands for posterity in the comments.

    “The vast majority of his poems are still in manuscripts” should be (in Latin) the motto of the Society for the Appreciation of Italian Hebrew Poetry. All I have is Schirmann and the diwanim of the Franceses. I’m just one poor guy who likes Hebrew poetry. But do feel free to keep filling in details around the margins.

  3. I promised ולכן אקיים:


    Scroll down the page, the first sound example is a recording of “למי אחפוץ”.

    Schirmann makes mistakes in nikkud? How so?
    You have several more files in pdf on the internet. Not very comfortable for a long reading, but still something.

  4. Interesting recording – very baroque indeed. This is a side of Italian poetry in action I hadn’t been exposed to before, thanks for bringing that to everyone’s attention. I wish the words were a little clearer. Do you know of any recordings of people simply reading poems in the Italian accent? I know how it’s pronounced, but knowing is one thing, and actually hearing is another.

    As far as Schirmann, while none come to mind now, I’ve noticed errors, especially mix-ups in qamatz and patach, though they may not be his, or some may be for meter’s sake or they may just be the extremely poor quality of the PDF.

    What other files are there? I have Schirmann obviously, and I just ordered a book of Italian poetry off eBay, I think Mi-Shirei Yisrael be-Italiyah, and other than the Frances diwanim, that’s all I’ve got.

  5. Oh, and I’m also aware of the stuff on the Ben Yehuda Project, though the Italian material is still pretty scanty there.

  6. Music composed by and for Italian Jews in the 16th-17th centuries is a fascinating field, which I also just began exploring. There’s still some work to be done there, and hopefully soon, in the near future, I’ll get to the point of actually studying it a bit more thoroughly.

    As for your question, the closest I can think of is the following site, which includes Torah readings: http://www.archivio-torah.it/testotorah/
    I only listened to the Ha’azinu, and I’m not versed at all when it comes to Te’amei Mikra (though, sadly, had to deal with it a bit lately).

    In Hebrewbooks you may find, besides Mishirei Israel Mi-Italiyah and Immanuel Frances’ “diwan”, Leone Modena’s “diwan” (god, these orientalist scholars), also edited – extremely poorly – by the same Sh. Bernstein, without even nikkud. Modena deserves more. Also: Moses ibn Ezra’s diwan, two volumes of three (Pagis’ volume not included), the entire Yedi’ot HaMachon published by the illustrious Schoken Institute, back in the days when people actually cared about premodern Hebrew culture. That’s what I can think of, for the time being.

    And another curious thing: back in the 18th century, a certain Jacob Saraval decided to translate the libretto for Haendel’s oratorio Esther, and apparently it was performed in Amsterdam. Here is a very small segment of the counter-tenor Michael Chance singing his best peuso-biblical, rhymed Hebrew as king Ahasuerus to the terrified Esther:
    And the lyrics, straight from Ets Haim Library: http://www.etshaimmanuscripts.nl/eh_47_a_29/ (picture n. 5, the texts begins in the lower left side)

  7. אתה,

    Thanks again for your detective work, I’ll get into that a bit later.

    It may please you to know that after letting it roll around in the back of my mind for a couple days, I think you’re right regarding “שחרה,” and I’ve changed the translation accordingly.

  8. The liturgical accent is interesting, a little different from what I expected, actually – they tend to add a little shwa to words ending in a consonant, which I assume is simply due to the tendency of native Italian speakers to do that to any word ending in a consonant, but other than that and the resh (tapped, not trilled as one might expect, although I suppose that’s in keeping with Italian), it’s quite similar to modern Hebrew. I had figured ayin would be nasalized in the Sephardi manner, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, and there seems to be no distinction made between khaf and chet. I assume the Sephardi Italian and the Italian-Italian communities had their own distinct accents, although there must have been inevitable merging over time.

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