May 072014
 

Hayim Gouri (1923 – )
One Tuesday

And on this eve which has no twin as far as sweep and stars,
Without a cloud, without a hint of sorrow or of rain;
On which the grass ascends from mounds of soil,
The whole of earth spread wanton for the dark and for the dew —

And I’m the man, so long
Awaiting you upon the threshold of our brightened house,
Standing firm and living in long expectation’s heart,
An expectation ancient, hungry, hard to know.

The daily hunger for this portion of my life,
This eventide viand of light aflash in fits and starts.
So the weft within the weave of our twin lives
Is watching for the evening, for the sound of beating hearts.1

חיים גורי
יום־שלישי אחד

 
וּבְעֶרֶב זֶה שֶׁאֵין תְּאוֹם לוֹ לְמֶרְחָק וְכוֹכָבִים,
שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ עָב וְאֵין בּוֹ שֶׁבֶר וּמָטָר;
שֶׁהַדְּשָׁאִים עוֹלִים בּוֹ מִן הָרְגָבִים,
מְלֹא הָאֲדָמָה הַמֻּפְקָרָה לַחֹשֶךְ וְלַטַּל —
 
אֲנִי הָאִישׁ, כָּל־כָּךְ
חִכִּיתִי לָךְ עַל סַף בֵּיתֵנוּ הַמּוּאָר,
נִצָּב וָחַי בְּלֵב הַצִּפִּיָּה הָאֲרֻכָּה,
הָעַתִּיקָה מְאֹד, הָרְעֵבָה וְהַתְּמוּהָה.
 
רְעַב יוֹם־יוֹם אֶל פְּלַג חַיַּי שֶׁלִי,
פַּתְבַּג עַרְבִית אֶל אוֹר רָעוּד וּמְהַבְהֵב.
כָּךְ שְׁתִי רִקְמַת חַיֵּינוּ הַכְּפוּלִים
צוֹפֶה לָעֶרֶב, לְקוֹלָן שֶׁל הַלְמֻיּוֹת הַלֵּב.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

U-ve-ʕérev zeh she-‘éin te’óm lo le-merḥáq ve-khokhavím,
She-éin bo ʕav ve-‘éin bo shéver u-matár;
She-hadsha’ím ʕolím bo min ha-regavím,
Meló ha-‘adamáh ha-mufqaráh la-ḥóshekh ve-la-tál —

‘Aní ha-‘ísh, kol kakh
Ḥikíti lakh ʕal saf beitéinu ha-mu’ár,
Nitzáv va-ḥái be-léiv ha-tzipiyáh ha-‘arukáh,
Ha-ʕatiqáh me’ód, ha-reʕeiváh ve-hatmuháh.

Reʕáv yom yom ‘el plag ḥayái shelí,
Patbág ʕarvít ‘el ‘or raʕúd u-mehavhéiv.
Kakh shti riqmát ḥayéinu ha-kfulím
Tzoféh la-ʕérev, le-qolán shel halmuyót ha-léiv.

  1. There’s an untranslatable play on words in these two lines: the word for “weft” is שתי, and its almost inevitable counterpart (since it’s used in many Hebrew expressions) is ערב, “warp,” which happens to be a homonym for “evening.” So the “weft” watches not only for the evening, but for its “warp,” which is a nicely subtle reinforcement of the poem’s theme of the bond between these two lovers, one who waits expectantly on the threshold waiting for the other’s arrival with the evening.
May 072014
 

A selection from that less lovely, but not entirely unpopular Hebrew poetic genre of pulmus nashim, the critique of women. Not that I’m defending it (or particularly feel the need to, I’m just translating here), but it’s a genre you actually find in a lot of the era in question’s poetry, whatever the language. It’s a bit strange to me that poets could write breathtaking love poetry with the same pen, but it seems that in order to be considered a well-rounded poet, you had to try your hand at all the contemporary styles.

Shmuel Archevolti (1515 – 1611)
A Wicked Woman’s Cunning Snare

A wicked woman’s cunning snare / for him who wanders without care / is spread, and wholly unaware / a curse shall fall on his affairs
His light goes dim, he goes astray / along his paths his head’s asway / she sets his feet in pits of clay / she’ll block his ev’ry route and way.

שמואל ארקוולטי
מצודת אשה רעה

 
מְצֻדַת אִשָּׁה רָעָה / לְרַגְלֵי בַשָּׁוְא נִתְעָה / פְּרוּשָׂה, וּלְאֵין דֵּעָה / מְאֵרָה בִפְעֻלּוֹתָיו
לְהַחְשִׁיךְ אוֹרוֹ עָלָיו / מְנוֹד רֹאשׁ עַל־כָּל שׁוּלָיו / וְתָשֵׂם בַּסַּד רַגְלָיו / וְתִשְׁמֹר כָּל־אָרְחוֹתָיו.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Metzudát ‘isháh raʕáh / le-ragléi va-sháv nitʕáh / perusáh, u-le-‘éin deiʕáh / me’eiráh vifʕulotáv
Lehaḥshíkh ‘oró ʕaláv / menód rosh ʕal kol shuláv / ve-taséim ba-sád ragláv / ve-tishmór kol ‘orḥotáv.