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.


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.

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