Apr 292014
 

Ephraim Luzzatto (1729 – 1792)
O Maiden Like the Breaking Dawn

O maid who like the breaking dawn is shining,
From you my soul flees, frightened beyond measure;
It’s not convinced me that it’s aimless pining
For I exult in you, your peace and pleasure.

Your neck is pure as finest woolen lining,
Your scent delights like a perfumer’s treasure;
But so has come Desire, without confining
His wrath; and I might die of his displeasure.

I’ve freed my heart to hatch some plan and rear it,
But my thoughts stray wild ’til reason forsakes duty,
Should I speak my piece whate’er once my doubts were?

“The one who heeds his eyes destroys his spirit”;
But if I listened I’d profane your beauty,
And yet, my spirit — what is life without her?

אפרים לוצאטו
עלמה הנשקפה

 
עַלְמָה הַנִּשְׁקָפָה, בָּרָה כַשַׁחַר,
נַפְשִׁי חַתָּה מִמֵּךְ, הָלְאָה בוֹרַחַת;
לֹא כֵן אָמְנָה חוּשִׁי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ שָׁחַר
כִּי בָּךְ עָלֵז עַל רֹב שָׁלוֹם וָנַחַת.
 
הִנֵּה צַוָּארֵךְ צַח מִצֶּמֶר צַחַר,
עָרֵב רֵיחַ אַפֵּךְ מִכָּל־מִרְקַחַת;
אַךְ בִּגְלָלֵךְ הַחֵשֶׁק בָּא, וַיַּחַר
עָלַי אַפּוֹ; כִּמְעַט אָמוּת לַשַּׁחַת.
 
תַּתִּי לִבִּי לָתוּר וּלְבַקֵּשׁ חֵפֶשׂ,
אַךְ בִּשְׂעִיפַי תּוֹעֶה עַד כֹּה הִסְכַּלְתִּי,
אִם מִשְׁפָּטִי אַטֶּה הֵנָה אוֹ הֵנָה.
 
״הוֹלֵך אַחַר עֵינָיו חֹמֵס הַנֶּפֶשׁ״;
אוּלָם אִם זֹאת אַקְשִׁיב, יָפְיֵךְ חִלַּלְתִּי,
וָאָנָה לִי חַיִּים אִם לֹא מִמֶּנָּה?
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

ʕalmáh ha-nishqafáh baráh kha-sháḥar
Nafshi ḥátah miméikh, hál’ah voráḥat
Lo khein ‘amnáh ḥushí she-‘éin lo sháḥar
Ki bakh ʕaléiz ʕal rov shalóm ve-náḥat.

Híneih tzavaréikh tzaḥ mi-tzémer tzáḥar
ʕarév réiaḥ ‘apéikh mi-kól mirqáḥat
‘Akh biglaléikh ha-ḥéisheq ba, va-yáḥar
ʕalái ‘apó; kimʕát ‘amút la-sháḥat

Tatí libí latúr u-levaqéish ḥéifes
‘Akh bisʕipí toʕéh ʕad koh hiskálti
‘Im mishpatí ‘atéh héinah ‘o héinah

Holéikh ‘aḥár ʕeináv ḥoméis ha-néfesh
‘Ulám ‘im zot ‘aqshív, yofyéikh ḥilálti
Va-‘ánah li ḥayím ‘im lo miménah?

Apr 292014
 

And so it goes.

***

Beside me as I stood in my place pressed against the Wall was a Mandatory policeman prodding and spurring with the crop in his hand. What enflamed this man’s heart so to make him so furious? A sickly old woman had brought with a stool to sit upon. The policeman leapt up and kicked away the stool, knocking the old woman to the ground, and seized the stool, as she had broken the law, enshrined by the lawmakers of the Mandate, that it was expressly forbidden for any worshiper at the Wall to bring something to sit on. The worshipers saw and kept silent, for who could talk reason with one whose mind was mind up? And then came that same old woman I knew and stared at him. The policeman cast his eyes downward and returned the stool. Continue reading »