Oct 262016
 

Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik (1873 – 1934)
Upon My Return

There once more: an old man wasted,
Withered, wrinkled face decaying,
Trembling leaf-like, dry straw’s shadow,
Wand’ring over books, still swaying.

There once more: a woman wasted,
Sewing, stitching every stocking,
Mouth still filled with oaths and curses,
Lips forever moving, mocking.

And as ever, never stirring,
By the stove the housecat’s dozing,
Wrapped in reveries, dreaming notions,
Treaties with the mice proposing.

And as ever, in the darkness
Of the corner, ever wider,
Filled with turgid housefly corpses,
Stretch the weavings of the spider…

You’re the same, old age still aging,
Never novel, change-defying;
I shall come and live among you —
Rot beside you, putrefying!

חיים נחמן ביאליק
בתשובתי


שׁוּב לְפָנַי: זָקֵן בָּלֶה,
פָּנִים צֹמְקִים וּמְצֹרָרִים,
צֵל קַשׁ יָבֵשׁ, נָד כְּעָלֶה,
נָד וָנָע עַל-גַּבֵּי סְפָרִים.

שׁוּב לְפָנַי: זְקֵנָה בָלָה,
אֹרְגָה, סֹרְגָה פֻזְמְקָאוֹת,
פִּיהָ מָלֵא אָלָה, קְלָלָה,
וּשְׂפָתֶיהָ תָּמִיד נָעוֹת.

וּכְמֵאָז לֹא מָשׁ מִמְּקוֹמוֹ
חֲתוּל בֵּיתֵנוּ – עוֹדוֹ הֹזֶה
בֵּין כִּירַיִם, וּבַחֲלוֹמוֹ
עִם-עַכְבָּרִים יַעַשׂ חֹזֶה.

וּכְמֵאָז בָּאֹפֶל מְתוּחִים
קוּרֵי אֶרֶג הָעַכָּבִישׁ
מְלֵאֵי פִּגְרֵי זְבוּבִים נְפוּחִים
שָׁם בַּזָּוִית הַמַּעֲרָבִית…

לֹא שֻׁנֵּיתֶם מִקַּדְמַתְכֶם,
יָשָׁן נוֹשָׁן, אֵין חֲדָשָׁה; –
אבֹא, אַחַי, בְּחֶבְרַתְכֶם!
יַחְדָּו נִרְקַב עַד-נִבְאָשָׁה!
י

Feb 052015
 

David Frishman (1859 – 1922)
Darkness

Not day, yet not night: the whole of my life
in twilight bemired.
What was not, what won’t be, that was all
I desired.

A slow lingering gloaming — and only at times
stirring with yearning.
Then rubbing my eyes: the darkness. But one edge of heaven
red as if burning.

I’d peer with eyes shielded: could this be the evening?
Or dawn in the sky?
I knew not, I knew not, if I was beginning
or the end had drawn nigh.

I loved not, nor hated. Oh God, God above!
The worthy are vying,
toiling around me, teeming and storming,
ten thousand crying,

one wheel scrapes another, the whole machine creaking;
the world will persist.
But what here is for me and who here is for me,
does my life yet exist?

דוד פרישמן
עלטה

 
לֹא יוֹם אַף לֹא לַיְלָה: דִּמְדּוּמִים הָיוּ
חַיָּי.
וְזֶה אֲשֶׁר-לֹא הָיָה וְזֶה אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִהְיֶה –
הָיָה מַאֲוַיָּי.
 
בֵּין הַשְּׁמָשׁוֹת אָרֹךְ אֶחָד – וְרַק לִרְגָעִים
יֵשׁ כִּי אִנָּעֵר.
אֲשַׁפְשֵׁף עֵינַי: עֲלָטָה. אַךְ פְּאַת-שָׁמַיִם אֶחָת
אֲדֻמָּה עַד-לְבָעֵר.
 
אַבִּיט וְכַף לֶעָיִן: הַאִם הוּא לִפְנוֹת-עֶרֶב?
הַאִם לִפְנוֹת-שַׁחֲרִית?
לֹא אֵדָע. וְלֹא אֵדַע אִם עַתָּה רַק אָחֵל
אוֹ אִם זֶה כְּבָר אַחֲרִית.
 
לֹא אָהַבְתִּי וְלֹא שָׂנֵאתִי. הוֹי אֵלִי, אֵלִי!
אַלְפֵי אַלְפֵי זוֹכִים
עֲמֵלִים עַל כָּל סְבִיבִי וְהוֹמִים פֹּה וְרוֹעֲשִׁים,
וְרִבְבוֹת אֻמְלָלִים בּוֹכִים,
 
וְגַלְגַּל מְנַסֵּר גַּלְגַּל וְשׁוֹרֶקֶת כָּל הַמְּכוֹנָה
וְהָעוֹלָם חַי וְקַיָּם.
אַךְ מַה-לִּי פֹּה אֲנִי וּמִי לִי פֹּה אֲנִי,
וְחַיַּי אַיָּם?
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Lo yoym af lo láiloh: dimdúmim hóyo
kháyai.
Ve-zéh ‘ashér hóyoh ve-zéh ‘ashér lo yíyeh —
hóyoh ma’aváyai.

Bein ha-shmóshoys óroykh ékhod — ve-rák lirgó’im
yeish ki inó’eir.
Asháfshef éinai: alótoh. Akh pe’ás shomáyim ékhas
adúmoh ad levó’eir.

Ábit ve-kháf le-óyin: ha-ím hu lífnoys érev?
Ha-ím lífnoys shákhris?
Lo éido. Ve-lo éida im átoh rak ókhel
o im zeh kvór ákhris.

Lo ohávti ve-lo sonéisi. Hoy éili, éili!
Álfei álfei zóykhim
améilim al kol svívi ve-hóymim poh ve-róyshim,
ve-rívevoys umlólim bóykhim,

ve-gálgal menáseir gálgal ve-shoyrékes kol hamkhóynoh
ve-ho-óylom khai ve-káyom.
Ákh mah li po aní u-mí li poh ‘aní,
ve-kháyai áyom?

Jan 292015
 

Shaul Tchernichovsky (1875 – 1943)
Above Lifeless Plains

Above lifeless plains,1 ev’ry valley forsaken,
The heavens hung darkly, their majesty taken,
So dreary and hollowing, wroth as if cheated,
By woe become apathy drained and depleted.

What’s proffered beneath? Sylvan tombs, deep beclouded?
All silent, abandoned, like dead men beshrouded;
If not time’s own sepulchres, ages now ended,
Has being’s vitality passed on expended?

And where are the living? A thorn’s shadow quiv’ring,
The tracks of a wolf, starving, straying and shiv’ring?
A kurgan forgotten, stone Scythian safeguard,
Which my heart beheld with relief in the graveyard.

Expanses around me! The heavens’ wide hollows,
And those of the earth which the night eager swallows!
Fine strings wrap around the heart, wounded and speechless,
Alone in the distance, exiled in the reaches———

שאול טשרניחובסקי
על ערבות מתות

 
עַל עֲרָבוֹת מֵתוֹת, גַּיְא וָגַיְא שׁוֹמֵמִים,
נִתְלוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם כֵּהִים, חִדְלֵי-אֵימִים,
נוּגִים וּמִתְרוֹקְנִים, זְעוּמִים כְּאִלּוּ רִמּוּם,
יְגֵעִים מִתּוֹךְ יֵאוּשׁ הָפַךְ וְהָיָה שִׁעְמוּם.
 
מַה זֶּה יֻצַּע תַּחְתַּי: קִבְרוֹת-יַעַר? שִׂיחִים?
הַכֹּל הַכֹּל שׁוֹמֵם, דּוֹמֵם וּבְתַכְרִיכִים
אִם לֹא קִבְרוֹת-הַזְּמָן פֹּה וְעִדָּנִים סָפוּ,
כֹּחוֹת-הַהֲוָיָה חָלְפוּ וַיִּיעָפוּ?!
 
וְאַיֵּה הֵם הַחַיִּים? וְלוּ צֵל-קַל שֶׁל אָטָד,
עִקְּבוֹת זְאֵב שֶׁרָעַב וְתָעָה וּבְקוֹר רָטַט?
אוֹ גַל נִשְׁכָּח וְעָלָיו אֶבֶן-סְקִיטִים-גּוֹלָם –
וְרָאָה לִבִּי וְרָוַח לוֹ בְּבֵית-הָעוֹלָם.
 
מֶרְחַב סָבִיב! מֶרְחַב הַשָּׁמַיִם מַעְלָה,
מֶרְחָב לָאֲדָמָה נִבְלַע בְּזֶה שֶׁל לַיְלָה!
וְהַלֵּב הַכּוֹאֵב נִתְפָּשׂ בְּנִימִים דַקִּים
יְחִידִי בַּמֶּרְחַבְיָה, גּוֹלֶה בַּמֶּרְחַקִּים – – –
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Al aróvoys méisoys, gai va-gái shoyméimim,
Níslu ha-shomáyim kéihim, khídlei éimim,
Núgim u-misróyknim, ze’úmim kílu rímum,
Yegéi’im mi-tóykh yéi’ush hófakh ve-hóyo shímum.

Mah zeh yútza tákhti: kívroys yá’ar? Síkhim?
Ha-kóyl ha-kóyl shóymeim, dóymeim u-ve-sakhríkhim
Im lo kívroys ha-zmán po ve-idónim sófu,
Kóykhot ha-havóyoh khólfu va-yi’ófu?!

Ve-áyeih heim ha-kháyim? Ve-lú tzéil-kal shel ‘ótod,
Íkvoys zev she-ró’av ve-tó’oh uv-kóyr rótat?
Oy gal níshkakh ve-‘ólov éven skítim góylom —
Ve-ró’oh líbi ve-róvakh loy be-véis ho-óylom.

Mérkhav sóviv! Mérkhav ha-shomáyim máloh,
Mérkhav lo-adómoh nívla be-zéh shel láiloh!
Ve-ha-léiv ha-kóyeiv níspos be-nímim dákim
Yekhídi ba-merkhávyoh, góyleh ba-merkhákim ———

  1. In southern Russia, to the north of the Black Sea.
Jan 132015
 

Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik (1873 – 1934)
Where Are You

From the place you’re concealed, O soul of my life,
My desires’ shekhina —
Reveal yourself now, and hurry, come quickly
To where I’ve been hiding;
And while redemption still waits for me — fly to redeem me
And master my destiny;
And one day what’s plundered from my youth restore
And put me to death with my spring.
And under your lips may my spark sputter out,
And I’ll draw forth my day ‘twixt your breasts,
Like the last breath at dusk amongst perfumèd flowers
Of a bird of the vineyards.

Where are you?

And yet I knew not who or what you might be —
And trembling’s your name on my lips,
Like fiery embers at night in my bed
You blazed in my heart;
And I wept as I sleepwalked and tore at my pillow
My flesh growing weak at your memory;
And all day amidst the words of my Gemara,
In sunbeams, within the bright form of a cloud,
In the purity of prayer, in immaculate thought,
In the warmth of my reason, the sweep of my sorrows —
My spirit asked nothing save your revelation,
Only you, only you, only you…

חיים נחמן ביאליק
איך


מִמְּקוֹם שֶׁאַתְּ נִסְתֶּרֶת שָׁם, יְחִידַת חַיַּי
וּשְׁכִינַת מַאֲוַיַּי –
הִגָּלִי-נָא וּמַהֲרִי בֹאִי, בֹּאִי
אֱלֵי מַחֲבוֹאִי;
וּבְעוֹד יֵשׁ גְּאֻלָּה לִי – צְאִי וּגְאָלִי
וּמָלְכִי עַל-גּוֹרָלִי;
וְיוֹם אֶחָד גְּזֵלַת נְעוּרַי לִי הָשִׁיבִי
וַהֲמִיתִינִי עִם-אֲבִיבִי.
וְתַחַת שִׂפְתוֹתַיִךְ יִכְבֶּה-נָא נִיצוֹצִי
וּבֵין שָׁדַיִךְ יוֹמִי אוֹצִיא,
כִּגְוַע בַּעֲרֹב הַיּוֹם בֵּין פִּרְחֵי בְשָׂמִים
צִפֹּרֶת כְּרָמִים.

אַיֵּךְ?

וַאֲנִי עוֹד לֹא יָדַעְתִּי מִי וָמָה אַתְּ –
וּשְׁמֵךְ עַל-שְׂפָתַי רָעַד,
וּכְרִצְפַּת אֵשׁ בַּלֵּילוֹת עַל-מִשְׁכָּבִי
בָּעַרְתְּ בִּלְבָבִי;
וָאֵבְךְּ בִּנְדוּדֵי לֵיל, וָאֶשֹּׁךְ כָּרִי
וּלְזִכְרֵךְ כָּלָה בְשָׂרִי;
וְכָל-הַיּוֹם בֵּין אוֹתִיּוֹת הַגְּמָרָא,
בְּקֶרֶן אוֹר, בִּדְמוּת עָב בָּרָה,
בַּזַּכָּה מִתְּפִלּוֹתַי וּבִטְהָר-הִרְהוּרַי,
בִּנְעִים הֶגְיוֹנַי וּבִגְדָל-יִסּוּרַי –
לֹא-בִקְשָׁה נַפְשִׁי כִּי אִם-הִגָּלוֹתֵךְ,
רַק-אוֹתָךְ, אוֹתָךְ, אוֹתָךְ…
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Mimkóym she-át nistéres shom, yekhídas kháyai
Ushkhínas ma’aváyai —
Higóli-no u-máhri vó’i, bó’i
Eléi makhvóyi;
Uvóyd yeish ge’ulóh li — tzi u-ge’óli
U-mólkhi al goyróli;
Veyóym ékhod gezéilas ne’úrai li hoshívi
U-hamisíni im avívi.
Ve-tákhat siftoytáyikh yíkhbeh-no nitzóytzi
Uvein shodáyikh yóymi óytzi,
Kigvá ba’aróyv ha-yóym bein pírkhei vesómim
Tzipóyres kerómim.

Áyeikh?

Va’aní lo yodáti mi u-moh at —
Ushméikh al sefósai ró’ad,
Ukhrítzpas eish ba-léiloys al mishkóvi
Bó’art bilvóvi;
Vo-evk bindúdei leil, vo-éshoykh kóri
U-le-zíkhrekh kóloh vesóri;
Ve-khól ha-yóym bein óysyes ha-gemóro
Be-kéren oyr, bidmús ov bóroh,
Ba-zákoh mitfilóysai, u-víthor hirhúrai,
Bín’im hegyóynái u-vígdal yisúrai —
Lo bíkshoh náfshi ki im higalóyseikh,
Rak óysokh, óysokh, óysokh…

May 032014
 

The first line and title of this poem represent one of the great challenges of modern Hebrew translation, not because there aren’t plenty of harder lines of Hebrew poetry to translate, but because this is a frequently-translated poem by perhaps the most significant early modern Hebrew poet, a poem that discusses his feelings towards his own poetic gift that’s short and punchy, not the kind of long and difficult (but far more thorough and engrossing) poem on the matter that only the insane endeavor to translate.

Anyway, the problem word is hefqeir, from the verb lehafqir, to abandon or forfeit. In rabbinic law, it’s a term for a status potentially acquired by goods: if any given item is left unclaimed in a public space for a certain amount of time, it is hefqeir, meaning that anyone can take it (and thereby become its legal owner) without fear of being accused of theft (the term is applied not only to the object, but sometimes to the space itself). My rabbinics professor, may he live to 120, liked to (effectively, I think) describe the concept in modern terms this way: the curb, and anything left lying on it, is widely understood in our society to be hefqeir. If you see a couch or TV lying by the curb (that nobody is in the process of transferring to a moving van), you can take it, and it’s yours (given that it seems the poorer or more frugal among us, your humble translator included, spend our 20s acquiring most of our furniture this way, it’s strange we have no widely-used English word for the concept). So really, the best way to render what Bialik is saying here is “I didn’t find light [i.e., his poetic gift] lying by the curb,” but I suppose that’s a bit colloquial. So various translators struggle with it in various ways, some better, some worse. Who was it who did the one about “windfall,” one of the Harshavs? Tfu. Anyway, love it or hate it, here’s my version.

Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik (1873 – 1934)
I Didn’t Stumble on Light

I didn’t stumble on light left abandoned
No bequest from my father’s my art,
From my stone and my bedrock I’ve gouged it,
And hewn it deep from my heart.

In the stone of my heart a spark’s hiding,
A tiny spark — yet mine completely,
I asked it of no one, nor did I steal it —
For truly it’s of me and in me.

And under the hammer of my many sorrows
My heart and my strength will crack and disperse
That same spark, off flying, hot sprayed towards my eye,
From my eye — and into my verse.

From my verse it shall scatter forth into your hearts,
In the flame of your fires I’ve kindled, recede,
And then, with my own flesh and blood,
The bright-burning blaze I shall feed.

חיים נחמן ביאליק
לא זכיתי באור מן ההפקר


לֹא זָכִיתִי בָאוֹר מִן-הַהֶפְקֵר,
אַף לֹא-בָא לִי בִירֻשָּׁה מֵאָבִי,
כִּי מִסַּלְעִי וְצוּרִי נִקַּרְתִּיו
וַחֲצַבְתִּיו מִלְּבָבִי.

נִיצוֹץ אֶחָד בְּצוּר לִבִּי מִסְתַּתֵּר,
נִיצוֹץ קָטָן – אַךְ כֻּלּוֹ שֶׁלִּי הוּא,
לֹא שְׁאִלְתִּיו מֵאִישׁ, לֹא גְנַבְתִּיו –
כִּי מִמֶּנִּי וּבִי הוּא.

וְתַחַת פַּטִּישׁ צָרוֹתַי הַגְּדוֹלוֹת
כִּי יִתְפּוֹצֵץ לְבָבִי, צוּר-עֻזִּי,
זֶה הַנִּיצוֹץ עָף, נִתָּז אֶל-עֵינִי,
וּמֵעֵינִי – לַחֲרוּזִי.

וּמֵחֲרוּזִי יִתְמַלֵּט לִלְבַבְכֶם,
וּבְאוּר אֶשְׁכֶם הִצַּתִּיו, יִתְעַלֵּם,
וְאָנֹכִי בְּחֶלְבִּי וּבְדָמִי
אֶת-הַבְּעֵרָה אֲשַׁלֵּם.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Lo zokhísi vo-óyr min ha-héfkeyr,
Af lo vo li virúshoh mei-óvi,
Ki mi-sáli ve-tzúri nikártiv
Va-khatzávtiv milvóvi.

Nítzoytz ékhod be-tzúr líbi mistáteyr,
Nítzoytz qóton — akh kúloy shelí hu,
Lo she’íltiv mei-ísh, lo ganávtiv —
Ki miméni u-ví hu.

Ve-tákhas pátish tzoróysai hagdóyloys
Ki yizpóytzeys levóvi, tzur úzi,
Zeh ha-nítzoytz of, nítoz el éinai,
U-mei-éinai — lakhrúzi.

U-mei-khrúzi yismáleyt lilvávkhem,
Uv-úr éshkhem hitzátiv, yisáleym,
Ve-onóykhi be-khélbi uv-dómi
Es ha-be’éyroh asháleym.

Oct 132013
 

Ugh. I promised. I promised I was working on something very, very long. And I wasn’t lying. See. Here it is. Perhaps the poet’s masterwork, the companion piece to “Shirati,” the two poems together in which Bialik — sort of — describes whence he derived his poetic gift. It’s also very long. The longest translation on this site. Did I mention that? Very long. Two hundred-odd lines of (mostly) amphibrachic tetrameter.

I’m going to do the transliteration in stages, because honestly I’m tired of looking at Zohar at the moment, and I don’t think my transliterations are the main draw for the four people who come to this site.

Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik (1873 – 1934)
Radiance

Through childhood’s midst I was left unattended,
To spend my days breathing in secrets and silence;
Within the world’s body, I yearned for its luster,
With something – what was it? – like wine in me seething.
I’d seek hidden places. There quiet observing,
As if in the world’s very eye I was looking;
My friends would appear there, I’d gain all their mys’tries,
And in my mute heart seal the sound of their voices.

My friends were so many: each bird bustling skyward,
Each tree with its shadow, each bush in the forest,
The moon’s modest face through the windowpanes shining,
The dark of the cellar, the gate’s creaking whistle;
Each bramble behind ev’ry broken-down paling,
Each beam of gold stretching to reach my eyes, whether
From sunlight, from oil lamps, from crystal cups scattered;
The heights of the attic, the spiderwebbed corner,
The mixture of light with the darkness, in concert
Both sweet and yet daunting, down deep in the well shaft,
Along with my echo and form, the clock striking,
An ivory saw grates amidst murky rafters,
As if with its letters the Name1 they were utt’ring —
The “Kol Nidrei” pears2 and the unripened apples
That leaned with their branches from our neighbor’s garden,
A fly’s buzz, “the son of the horse of our Teacher.”3
Each one did I covet as my own companions —
And dearest of all were the sunlight’s bright zephyrs.4

In summer it was I’d encounter the zephyrs,
The gossamer cherubs blazed, children of brilliance.
While sailing through sunlight towards water and wheatfield
One day they passed over my face, gay and gleeful,
Their joy cleaved to me and my spirit grew warmer,
My eyes flowed at first as if those of a child.
And I was their friend, to their secrets they drew me —
And oh, how I loved them, and oh, how they loved me!

With sunlight in morning, still caught up in slumber —
They flew to my window and knocked to me: “Wake up!”
While still getting dressed, and not yet having shrugged off
The dreamtime of morning — they’d flit at me: “Faster!”
And ere I could find where my shoes had been flung to —
They’d charm me: “Outside now! Each hour is precious!”
And hastening still that I might then draw near them —
They’d winking call “Scatter!” — with me still behind them.
I turned pure and airy, a wing of light bore me,
Let’s fly, O you pure ones, for I am your brother!
The meadow, the meadow, we’ll sail there, we’ll caper!
We’ll gambol, we’ll roll ’round in its dewy grasses,
We’ll gleam in light scattered and string pearls together,
And roll somersaults upon soft beds of verdure…

We’d fall in the meadow, in lustrous dew rolling —
The field shining sudden with thousands of glimmers,
The grass would then glisten with lights beyond counting
And with seven eyes every thistle would shimmer.
On each thorn stood trembling a stone of pure emerald,
And sunbeams on every bramble’s point sundered
And split into finely wrought golden-hued blossoms.

Abruptly this kingdom of radiance was jolted
Like shaking out sapphires and topaz in sifters,
It blinded the eyes — it stood up and leapt off
‘Twixt plants in the meadow, the calf that was grazing;
The flock of food-diggers, that rabble of chickens
Oblivious shaking the heads of the brambles,
The meadow was glist’ning and flowing and laughing.
And I, wholly radiance, would like a bird tremble,
Like birds in a net my soul’s luster was captured,
Like strings of gold, delicate, soft and refined then
Surrounded me, purified limbs tightly binding.
And in me anew stirred a luminous childhood,
My mouth laughed unbeckoned, within — a sun singing.
From touching the sunbeams, from joy and from brilliance
I gleamed and I flowed and I blushed and I melted.

While yet drunk on radiance, my spirit enraptured
And wrapped up in glimmers — they’d say: “To the wheatfield!”
And flying so nimbly the whole flock of zephyrs
Went scamp’ring and sparkling, and spread through the wheatfield,
Atop stalks of grain growing hairy and bushy,
Now hungry for mischief, they hovered, bright blazing ———
“The glimmering sea is this, wide beyond measure,
Until noontime’s swelter we’ll bathe in it, raucous.
A flock of fleet clouds, the deep musings of heaven,
Will shadow us briefly then keep rolling onwards.”
And once they had vanished, like plumbing the fathoms,
They’d instantly surface, as past times rejoicing,
Their limbs they would shake off then, shooting off flashes,
Each one towards his fellow hot sparks eager spraying.

The field shone with glee: then in flight passed the swallows,
And hasty they blessed us: a “tweet tweet” — then vanished.
And great hosts of lacewings as weightless as feathers
On wings of light glistened and scattered and hovered,
And silent they fluttered and and flit through the wheatfield,
They whitened, they reddened, they yellowed, turned golden,
By brilliance were swallowed, revealed then returning,
As if playful hands now tossed out by the fistful
Fresh garlands of flow’rs ’round the heads of the zephyrs,
While yet in their dance, golden arrows gone wild,
At play with scintillas, propelling them, tossing
To tunes from God’s players, the blazing field’s choir —
The cricket, the grasshopper, leaping and whistling
And bursting forth chiming with rasping and hopping,
And shaking the air at once burning and silent,
And quiv’ring with feeling and trembling hiding ———

And tired of lights then — the flock ever-joyful
Shook off from the meadow, declared: to the pond now!
Too warm have we grown! — and in flight off they sailed
Now unto the pond between reed and stalk spread out.

In bright midday’s heat its deep waters stilled briefly
Beneath the sun’s radiance, in shadows of willows.
And some were as clear as a bright-polished mirror;
The heavens’ blue hammered in, clouds floating slowly
Like pearls in their purity, then simply melting.
It seemed like a world overturned: a new heaven,
The sun’s brilliance cooling, creation’s face modest
Serenity veiled it, a dream of calm endless
Within placid waters so limpid now sunken —
The whole was so clear, and so tranquil, so dreamlike! ——

Ensconced yet were others by darkness of shadows,
And green were the waters and bathed in contentment.
‘Twixt this and ‘twixt that with their shadows would darken
The banks of the pond this whole world that lay under.
Inverted and doubled, reflected beneath me
The reeds, the rocks’ bumps and the tree’s very visage,
The boat lashed around the stump of a tree hewn,
The hillock enwrapped by the tendrils of tree roots,
And two wild geese and a crane, lone and a single,
Her pure feathers cleaning like beating out laundry —
The whole was so cool, and so fresh, and so wat’ry!

And some — golden waters and brilliance, enchantment
And traces of sunlight and small pools of shimmers
Like scales of pure gold, finely-wrought chains of aurum
The shards of two twin suns, and fragments of fragments
Of crystal and clear glass, of gleaming and glowing —
The whole was so sparkling, so radiant, so light-clothed!

The pond, to the pond! — and the pond would be stirring,
The depths of the gold and the radiance aquiver.
A rabble of glimmers with glimmers entangled,
Irate from the colors and shades by the thousands.
They moved beneath pure heaven’s tapestry, teeming
And so moved its sun, which was shattered in seven,
And these seven suns moved so each faced another.
And instantly — sun upon sun — and completely
They crumbled together; the world that lay under
Was swept off and drowned in the void and the chaos,
The flood of the radiance, the wide seas of brightness.

In this sea of fire, this torrent of radiance
I also dove down to soak in the sea’s brilliance,
And cleansed sevenfold, purified I emerged then.
With springs bursting forth and a thousand strong sources
Of gladness and joy, my whole leapt for the waters,
Like bold songs of dance that go mischievous sweeping,
That spring all at once from the violins, legion —
Sunk down I would sit ‘twixt the pond’s leafy verdure,
Observing the silt of its waters, returning
To rest. Yet one more modest movement now inlays
Their surface and beats in the jewels of their chainwork,
Igniting within tongues of fire and blazes,
And tossing a whisper of embers among them,
A little bit stirring them — dwindling — and stopping.

And silent the pond fell, to its source returning,
Once more it was smooth and bright-polished and sleeping,
Again it was made up of ripples on ripples
And folded beneath it the world fallen silent
In hideaways reedy and shadowing willows.
Before me, across this pond’s new incarnation,
A fisherman, hoary, is straddling the bright depths
And from within drawing a fine net still spraying,
He shakes it — and towards my eyes, colored like rainbows,
It shakes loose the sparks, it enchants and unfurls them;
As if the old man stirred a charmed pot of radiance,
And strained a gold soup to the bowl’s shining crystal,
And spraying towards earth were more drops fiercely flaring —
And towards my eyes like a dream, light and sweet, flowing.

From the pond I saw then sudden
On the water’s tranquil surface
Rose arrayed a flawless column
Of the little zephyrs.

Pure of limb, and holy, lucid,
As if today they had been shaken
From off a holy cherub’s feathers
That above us flew.

And once more from their eyes was spark’ling
Highest radiance, godly brilliance,
And so holding hands they gathered
And in their tongues sheer gladness:

Oh, come to us, child!
Oh, come to us, beauty!
You thirsting for brilliance —
                            Until the day’s gone.

We’ll dip you in radiance,
Lower you, bring you
To treasures of light hid
                            In deepest of depths.

To towers of glass.
To castles of crystal.
To temples of diamond
                            And topazes — ruby.

From this hidden brilliance,
The seven days’ brightness,
You’ll drink from our gold cup
                            Exposing you whole.

‘Til’t comes out your nose,
And sprays from your eyes,
And works through your bones
                            And heart, like the entrance

Of ten thousand soft kisses
From ten thousand sunbeams
Far too sweet to contain
                            Too heavy to bear.

Still sinking in my soul was their pleasant chorus —
And they slipped away to the neighboring forest,
Bestowing on me a glance seeming like solace
That said: “To the morning!” and scatt’ring they vanished.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

And one day — though when I can’t seem to remember,
And still don’t know why — I beheld all their faces
And pity for me colored ev’ry one, gloomy,
And leaving — the look they gave said to me nothing.
In morning, the light shook me out of my slumber
And seared my two lips and hot pierced through my eyelids…

I looked through the window — and lo, it was blazing,
I waited, I yearned ’til ashamed — they weren’t coming.
The song of the radiance forever fell silent —
Yet deep in my heart hides its sound’s faintest echo,
And deep in my pupils I kept its light’s brightness;
And in this wide world, all my life’s dreams’ rare sweetness,
The worth of my visions — are drawn from its fountain,
And flow from its source, pure and quenching and blessèd.

חיים נחמן ביאליק
זהר


בְּעֶצֶם יַלְדוּתִי יְחִידִי הֻצַּגְתִּי,
וָאֶשְׁאַף כָּל-יָמַי סְתָרִים וּדְמָמָה;
מִגּוּפוֹ שֶׁל-עוֹלָם אֶל-אוֹרוֹ עָרַגְתִּי,
דְּבַר-מָה בַּל-יְדַעְתִּיו כַּיַּיִן בִּי הָמָה.
וָאָתוּר מַחֲבֹאִים. שָׁם דֹּם נִסְתַּכַּלְתִּי,
כְּמוֹ צֹפֶה הָיִיתִי בְּעֵינוֹ שֶׁל-עוֹלָם;
שָׁם נִגְלוּ לִי חֲבֵרַי, רָזֵיהֶם קִבַּלְתִּי
וָאֶחְתֹּם בִּלְבָבִי הָאִלֵּם אֶת-קוֹלָם.

וַחֲבֵרַי מָה-רָבּוּ: כָּל-עוֹף הַפּוֹרֵחַ,
כָּל-אִילָן עִם-צִלּוֹ, כָּל-שִׂיחַ בַּיָּעַר,
פְּנֵי סַהַר צָנוּעַ לָאֶשְׁנָב זוֹרֵחַ,
וַעֲלֶטֶת הַמַּרְתֵּף וּשְׁרִיקַת הַשָּׁעַר;
כָּל-חָרוּל מֵאַחֲרֵי כָל-גָּדֵר הַדְּחוּיָה,
כָּל-קֶרֶן פָּז מְתוּחָה אֶל-עֵינַי וּנְטוּיָה
מִשֶּׁמֶשׁ, מִנֵּר אוֹ מֵרְסִיסֵי כּוֹס גָּבִישׁ;
עֲלִיַּת הַגָּג, פִּנַּת קוּרֵי עַכָּבִישׁ,
תַּעֲרֹבֶת הָאוֹר עִם-הַחֹשֶׁךְ הַמְּתוּקָה
וַאֲיֻמָּה כְּאַחַת בְּתוֹךְ בְּאֵר עֲמֻקָּה,
בַּת-קוֹלִי וְצַלְמִי שָׁם, לְשׁוֹן הָאֻרְלֹגִין
וּמַשּׂוֹר שֵׁן חוֹרֵק בַּעֲבִי הַקּוֹרָה,
וּכְמוֹ שֵׁם מְפֹרָשׁ בְּאוֹתִיּוֹתָיו הֵם הֹגִים –
אֲגַסֵּי ״כָל נִדְרֵי״, הַתַּפּוּחִים הַקֵּהִים
הַנּוֹטִים עִם-נוֹפָם מִגַּן שְׁכֵנֵנוּ,
זְבוּב הוֹמֶה, ״בֶּן-סוּסוֹ שֶׁל-מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ״ –
כֻּלָּמוֹ חָמַדְתִּי וַיִּהְיוּ לִי רֵעִים –
וַחֲבִיבִים מִכֻּלָּם צַפְרִירֵי הָאוֹרָה.

בַּקַּיִץ הָיִיתִי יוֹדֵעַ צַפְרִירִים,
עֲדַת כְּרוּבִים קַלִּים, בְּנֵי-נֹגַהּ מַזְהִירִים.
מִשּׁוּט בְּאוֹר שֶׁמֶשׁ אֶל-מַיִם וְקָמָה
יוֹם אֶחָד עַלִּיזִים עַל פָּנַי עָבָרוּ,
וַיִּדְבַּק בִּי שְׂשׂוֹנָם וְנַפְשִׁי נֵחָמָה,
וְעֵינַי רִאשׁוֹנָה כַּיֶּלֶד נָהָרוּ.
וָאֱהִי לָמוֹ חָבֵר וּבְסוֹדָם מְשָׁכוּנִי –
וַאֲנִי מָה-אֲהַבְתִּים וּמָה-אֲהֵבוּנִי!

בַּבֹּקֶר עִם-שֶׁמֶשׁ עוֹדֶנִּי תְּפוּשׂ תְּנוּמָה –
וְחָפְזוּ לְחַלּוֹנִי וְדָפְקוּ-לִי: קוּמָה!
עוֹדֶנִּי מִתְלַבֵּשׁ וּבְטֶרֶם אֶתְנַעֵר
מֵחֶזְיוֹן הַבֹּקֶר – וְקָרְצוּ לִי: מַהֵר!
וּבְטֶרֶם מַנְעָלִי הַנִּדָּח אֶמְצָאָה –
וְשִׂקְּרוּ לִי: ״צֵאָה! יְקָרָה כָל-שָׁעָה!״
וּבְעוֹד אֲנִי נֶחְפָּז עַד-גִּשְׁתִּי אֵלֵימוֹ –
וַיִּרְמְזוּ: ״פּוּצוּ!״ – אָנֹכִי אַחֲרֵימוֹ.
קַלּוֹתִי, זַכּוֹתִי, כְּנַף אוֹר תִּשָּׂאֵנִי,
נָטוּשָׂה, הַזַּכִּים, אֲחִיכֶם הִנֵּנִי!
לַכִּכָּר, לַכִּכָּר נָשׁוּטָה, נָפֹזָּה!
נִתְעַלֵּס, נִתְפַּלֵּשׁ בִּדְשָׁאָיו הַטְּלוּלִים,
נַזְהִירָה בָרְסִיסִים וּפְנִינִים נַחֲרֹזָה,
עַל-מַצָּע יְרַקְרַק נִתְגַּלְגֵּל גִּלְגּוּלִים…

אָז נִפֹּל בַּכִּכָּר, בְּטַל-אוֹרוֹת נִתְבּוֹסֵס –
הַכָּר הִזְהִיר פִּתְאֹם בְּאַלְפֵי נְגֹהוֹת
וַיִּקְרַן הַדֶּשֶׁא בְּאוֹרִים רִבֹּאוֹת
וּבְשֶׁבַע עֵינַיִם כָּל-בַּרְקָן הִתְנוֹסֵס.
עַל-כָּל-קוֹץ וָקוֹץ תִּרְעַד אֶבֶן בָּרֶקֶת,
וְקֶרֶן אֶל-חֹד כָּל-נַעֲצוּץ תִּתְנַפֵּץ
וּלְצִיצַת פָּז דַּקָּה וּרְדוּדָה נֶחֱלֶקֶת.

וּפִתְאֹם מַמְלֶכֶת הַזֹּהַר נִנְעָרָה
כְּנוֹעַ סַפִּירִים וּשְׁמָשׁוֹת בִּכְבָרָה,
סַנְוֵרִים לָעָיִן – זֶה עָמַד וַיְקַפֵּץ
בֵּין צִמְחֵי הַכִּכָּר הָעֵגֶל הַמְלַחֵךְ;
וַעֲדַת חוֹפְרֵי אֹכֶל, קְהַל תַּרְנְגוֹלִים
מִתְעַלְּמִים וּמְזַעְזְעִים אֶת-רֹאשׁ הַנַּהֲלוֹלִים,
וַיְצַחְצַח הַכִּכָּר וַיִּנְהַר וַיְגַחֵךְ.
אָנֹכִי כְּלִיל זֹהַר כְּצִפּוֹר אֶחֱרָדָה,
וּכְצִפּוֹר בְּרֶשֶׁת אוֹר נַפְשִׁי נִלְכָּדָה,
כְּמוֹ חוּטֵי-פָז דַּקִּים עֲנֻגִּים וְרַכִּים
שׂוֹכְכוּנִי, וַיְתַפְּשׂוּ בִּיצוּרַי הַזַּכִּים.
הִתְנַעֲרָה, הִתְחַדְּשָׁה בִי יַלְדוּת מְאִירָה,
פִּי שׂוֹחֵק מֵאֵלָיו, בַּלֵּב – שֶׁמֶשׁ שִׁירָה.
מִמַּגַּע קַרְנַיִם, מִגִּיל וּמִנֹּגַהּ
אֶקְרָנָה, אֶנְהָרָה, אֵבוֹשָׁה, אֶמּוֹגָה.

עוֹדֶנִי שְׁכוּר זֹהַר, עוֹד רוּחִי נִפְעָמָה
וּרְקוּמָה בִנְגֹהוֹת – וַיֹּאמְרוּ: לַקָּמָה!
וּבְטִיסָה קַלִּילָה עֲדַת הַצַּפְרִירִים,
הִתְשׁוֹטֵט וְנַצְנֵץ, בַּקָּמָה פָשָׁטוּ,
עַל-רָאשֵׁי שִׁבֳּלֵי הַדָּגָן הַשְּׂעִירִים,

רְעֵבֵי מְשׁוּבָה, יְרַחֲפוּ, יִלְהָטוּ – – –
״זֶה יָם הַנְּגֹהוֹת רְחַב הַיָּדָיִם,
עַד-חֹם צָהֳרַיִם נִתְרַחֵץ, נִתְהוֹלֵל.
עֲדַת עָבִים קַלוֹת, הִרְהוּרֵי שָׁמָיִם,
צֵל רֶגַע תַּעֲבִיר עָלֵינוּ וּתְגוֹלֵל.״
וּפַעַם יִתְעַלְּמוּ כְּמוֹ תְהֹמוֹת צָלָלוּ,
בִּן-רֶגַע יִתְגַּלּוּ וּכְקֶדֶם יִצְהָלוּ,
נוֹעֲרִים גַּפֵּיהֶם וְיַזּוּ רְסִיסִים,
אִישׁ לִקְרַאת אָחִיהוּ מַתִּיזִים נִיצוֹצוֹת.

יַעֲלֹז הַשָּׂדֶה: בִּיעָף עוֹבְרִים סִיסִים,
וּפְזִיזִים יְבָרְכוּ: ״צְוִיץ צְוִיץ״ – וְנָגוֹזוּ.
וַהֲמוֹן זְבוּבֵי רִקְמָה קַלִּילִים כְּנוֹצוֹת
עַל-כַּנְפֵי אוֹר נוֹסְסִים, פּוֹרְחִים, מְנַפְנְפִים,
מְפַרְכְּסִים דּוּמָם בַּקָּמָה וּמְרַפְרְפִים,
יַלְבִּינוּ, יַאְדִּימוּ, יַצְהִיבוּ, יָפֹזּוּ,
נִבְלָעִים בַּנֹּגַהּ וְשָׁבִים מִתְגַּלִּים,
כְּמוֹ יָד מְשַׂחֶקֶת זֹרֶקֶת חָפְנַיִם
עַל-רָאשֵׁי צַפְרִירַי עֲתַר פְּרָחִים חַיִּים,
בְּעוֹדָם בִּמְחוֹל חִצֵּי זָהָב מִתְלַהְלְהִים,
מְשַׂחֲקִים בַּזִּקִּים, מְקַלְקְלִים, זֹרְקִים
לְקוֹל נֹגְנֵי שָׂדַי, מַקְהֲלוֹת נִיר יוֹקֵד –
הַחַרְגֹּל, הַצְּלָצַל שֶׁחוֹרְגִים וְשׁוֹרְקִים
וְיוֹצְאִים בְּצֶלְצְלִים נַסֵּר וְנַתֵּר,
וּמְזַעְזְעִים הָאַוֵּר הַלּוֹהֵט וְשׁוֹקֵט,
וּמְרַטֵּט בְּרֶגֶשׁ וּבְרֶטֶט מִסְתַּתֵּר – – –

וַעֲיֵפָה לָאוֹרִים – הָעֵדָה הַשְּׂמֵחָה
נוֹעֶרֶת הַכַּרְמֶל, מַכְרֶזֶת: לַבְּרֵכָה!
חַמֹּנוּ, נִכְמָרְנוּ! – וְשׁוֹטְטוּ עוּף
לַבְּרֵכָה הַשְּׁטוּחָה בֵּין קָנֶה וָסוּף.

בְּחֹם צָהֳרַיִם מֵימֶיהָ אַט רֹגְעִים
בְּזָהֳרֵי חַמָּה וּבְצִלְלֵי עֲרָבִים.
מִקְצָתָם בְּהִירִים כָּרְאִי מְלֻטָּשִׁים;
בָּם רְקוּעִים שְׁמֵי תְכֵלֶת, אַט צָפִים בְּנֵי-עָבִים
כְּעֶצֶם הַפְּנִינִים לָטֹהַר, וּנְמוֹגִים.
וּכְעֵין עוֹלָם הָפוּךְ: שָׁמַיִם חֲדָשִׁים,
זִיו שֶׁמֶשׁ מְצֻנָּן וּפְנֵי יְקוּם צָנוּעַ
מְעֻלָּף צְעִיף שַׁלְוָה וַחֲלוֹם שֶׁקֶט עוֹלָם
בְּתוֹךְ מֵי-הַמְּנוּחוֹת הַצְּלוּלִים שָׁקוּעַ –
וְהַכֹּל שָׁם כֹּה-בָהִיר, כֹּה-שַׁאֲנָן, כֹּה-חוֹלֵם! – – –

מִקְצָתָם עֲלֶטֶת צֶאֱלִים שׂוֹכֵכָה,
וִירֹקִים הַמַּיִם וּשְׁרוּיִם בְּנָחַת.
מִזֶּה וּמִזֶּה תַּאֲפֵלְנָה בְצִלָּן
עַל-עוֹלָם הַתַּחְתּוֹן שְׁתֵּי גְדוֹתֵי הַבְּרֵכָה.
וַהֲפוּכִים וּכְפוּלִים נִשְׁקָפִים מִתַּחַת
הַסּוּף, זִיזֵי סֶלַע, וְנוֹפוֹ שֶׁל-אִילָן,
הַדּוּגִית הַקְּשׁוּרָה לְגֶזַע עֵץ חָטוּב,
הַתְּלוּלִית הַמְעֹרָה בְּגִידֵי שָׁרָשִׁים,
שְׁנֵי אַוְזֵי הַבָּר וְהַחֲסִידָה הָאַחַת,
כּוֹבֶסֶת חֲשׂוּפָה מְנַפֶּצֶת כְּבָסִים –
וְהַכֹּל שָׁם כֹּה מְצֻנָּן, כֹּה רַעֲנָן, כֹּה רָטֹב!

וּקְצָתָם – מֵי-זָהָב וָנֹגַהּ וְקֶסֶם
שַׁבְרִירֵי אוֹר שֶׁמֶשׁ וּמִשְׁטַח זַהֲרוּרִים,
קַשְׂקַשְּׂי פָּז טָהוֹר וְשַׁרְשְׁרוֹת כֶּתֶם.
מְכִתּוֹת שְׁתֵּי שְׁמָשׁוֹת, פֵּרוּרִים פֵּרוּרִים
שֶׁל-גָּבִישׁ וּזְכוּכִית, צַחְצוּחַ וָלַהַט –
וְהַכֹּל שָׁם כֹּה-נוֹצֵץ, כֹּה-יַזְהִיר, אוֹר יָעַט!

לַבְּרֵכָה, לַבְּרֵכָה! – וַתָּנָד הַבְּרֵכָה.
נִזְדַּעְזְעָה כָל-מְצוּלַת הַפָּז וְהַזֹּהַר.
וְעֵרֶב רַב נְגֹהוֹת בִּנְגֹהוֹת סִכְסֵכָה,
וַתִּרְגַּז מֵרִבֲבוֹת גָּוֶן וָצֶבַע.
וַתָּנַע מִתַּחַת יְרִיעַת שְׁמֵי-טֹהַר,
וַתָּנַע גַּם-שִׁמְשָׁהּ וְהֻכְּתָה לְשֶׁבַע,
וְשִׁבְעַת הַשְּׁמָשׁוֹת אִישׁ נֶגְדּוֹ יִנּוֹעוּ.
בִּן-רֶגַע – וְשֶׁמֶשׁ בַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ – וּפוֹר
יִתְפּוֹרְרוּ יַחַד, וְנִסְחַף וְטָבַע
יְקוּם הַתַּחְתִּיּוֹת בְּתֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ
וּבְמַבּוּל שֶׁל-זֹהַר וּבְיַמֵּי-הָאוֹר.

וּבְיָם דִּי-נוּר זֶה וּבְשִׁבֹּלֶת הַזֹּהַר
צָלַלְתִּי גַם-אָנִי וָאֶסְפֹּג יָם אוֹרִים,
וָאֵצֵא פִּי-שִׁבְעָה מְזֻקָּק וּמְטֹהָר.
וּבְפֶרֶץ מַעְיָנִים, בַּעֲזוֹז אַלְפֵי מְקוֹרִים
שֶׁל-אֹשֶׁר וָגִיל, קִרְבִּי דָץ יָם הַנֹּגַהּ,
כִּסְחוּף זִמְרַת מָחוֹל עִזּוּזָה שׁוֹבֵבָה
שֶׁתְּזַנֵּק בְּבַת-אַחַת מֵאַלְפֵי כִנּוֹרִים –
מְשֻׁקָּע בֵּין אִבֵּי הַבְּרֵכָה אֵשֵׁבָה,
מִתְבּוֹנֵן אֶל-מִשְׁקַע מֵימֶיהָ הַשָּׁבִים
לִמְנוּחָה. עוֹד נִיד קַל מְשַׁבֵּץ וְרֹגַע
אֶת-פְּנֵיהֶם וּמַרְבִּיץ בַּכַּדְכֹּד שַׁרְשׁוֹתָם,
וּמַדְלִיק בָּם לְשׁוֹנוֹת אֵשׁ קְטַנּוֹת וּלְהָבִים,
וְזוֹרֵק לְחִישַׁת גֶּחָלִים בֵּינוֹתָם,
מְזִיזָם זִיז כָּל-שֶׁהוּא – פּוֹחֵת – וּפוֹסֵק.

וַתִּשְׁקֹט הַבְּרֵכָה וַתָּשָׁב אֶל-עֵינָהּ
וּכְקֶדֶם הִיא חֲלָקָה וּלְטוּשָׁה וִישֵׁנָה,
וַעֲשׂוּיָה הִיא שֵׁנִית שְׁבִילִים שְׁבִילִים
וּתְקַפֵּל תַּחְתֶּיהָ הָעוֹלָם הַשּׁוֹתֵק
בְּסֵתֶר קְנֵי-סוּף וַעֲרָבִים מְצִלִּים.
מִמּוּלִי, מֵעֵבֶר הַבְּרֵכָה הַשֵּׁנִי,
דַּיָּג שָׂב עוֹמֵד עַל-מְצוּלַת הַנְּהָרָה
וּמֹשֶׁה מִשָּׁם רֶשֶׁת דַּקָּה רוֹסֶסֶת,
מְנַעֲרָהּ – וּבְצִבְעֵי הַקֶּשֶׁת אֶל-עֵינִי
נְעֹרֶת הָרְסִיסִים קוֹסֶמֶת, נוֹסֶסֶת;
כְּמוֹ בוֹחֵשׁ הַדַּיָּג סִיר זֹהַר בִּכְשָׁפִים,
וּמְסַנֵּן מְרַק זָהָב לִבְדֹלַח הַקְּעָרָה,
וַיִּזּוּ גַם-אַרְצָה נְטָפִים רְשָׁפִים –
וּלְעֵינַי כַּחֲלוֹם קַל וּמָתוֹק נָהָרוּ.

פִּתְאֹם אֶרְאֶה מִן-הַבְּרֵכָה
עַל-הַמַּיִם הַשַּׁאֲנַנִּים
עָלְתָה חוֹצֵץ שׁוּרָה זַכָּה
שֶׁל-צַפְרִירִים קְטַנִּים.

זַכֵּי-גַף, קְדוֹשִׁים, בְּרוּרִים,
כְּמוֹ נִנְעֲרוּ זֶה הַיּוֹם
מֵעַל כְּנַף כְּרוּב אֶחָד קָדוֹשׁ
אֲשֶׁר טָס בָּרוֹם.

וְעוֹד מִתּוֹך עֵינֵיהֶם יָצִיץ
זֹהַר עֶלְיוֹן, זִיו הַשְּׂכִינָה,
וַאֲחוּזֵי יָד נִצָּבוּ
וּבִלְשׁוֹנָם רִנָּה:

אֵלֵינוּ, הַיֶּלֶד!
אֵלֵינוּ, הַיָּפֶה!
הַצָּמֵא לַנֹּגַהּ –
          עַד-פָּנָה הַיּוֹם.

נִטְבָּלְךָ בַּזֹּהַר,
נוֹרִידְךָ נְבִיאֶךָ
אֶל-מַטְמוֹן אוֹר גָּנוּז
          בְּמַעֲמַקֵּי תְהוֹם.

שָׁם מִגְדְּלֵי זְכוּכִית.
שָׁם אַרְמְנוֹת גָּבִישׁ,
שָׁם הֵיכְלֵי הַבְּדֹלַח
          וּשְׁמָשׁוֹת – כַּדְכֹּד.

מִנֹּגַהּ הַמְשֻׁמָּר,
אוֹר שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים,
כּוֹס זָהָב נַשְׁקֶךָ,
          עָרוֹת עַד-יְסוֹד.

עַד-יֵצֵא מֵאַפְּךָ,
אַף-יִז מֵעֵינֶיךָ,
וּבָא בַעֲצָמֶיךָ
          וּבְלִבְּךָ, כִּמְבוֹא

רִבֹּאוֹת נְשִׁיקוֹת
שֶׁל-רִבּוֹא קַרְנַיִם,
מְתוּקוֹת מֵהָכִיל
          וּגְדוֹלוֹת מִנְּשֹׂא.

עוֹד צוֹלֵל בְּנַפְשִׁי מִזְמוֹרָם הֶעָרֵב –
וְהֵמָּה נִמְלָטִים לַיַּעַר הַקָּרוֹב,
מַאֲצִילִים מֵרָחוֹק לִי מַבַּט תַּנְחוּמִים
הָאֹמֵר: ״לַבֹּקֶר!״ וּפֹרְחִים וְאֵינֵימוֹ.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

וּבְאַחַד הַיָּמִים – לֹא-אֶזְכֹּר אֵימָתָי,
לֹא-אֵדַע מַדּוּעַ – וָאֵרֶא פָנֵימוֹ
וּמְלֵאִים הֵם רַחֲמִים עָלַי וַעֲגוּמִים,
וּבְלֶכְתָּם – מֶבָּטָם לֹא-אָמַר מְאוּמָה.
בַּבֹּקֶר הָאוֹר הֶעִירַנִי מִתְּנוּמָה
וַיְנַקֵּר אֶת-עֵינַי וַיִּצְרֹב אֶת-שְׂפָתָי…

הֵצַצְתִּי בַחַלּוֹן – וְהִנֵּה הִיא חַ מָּ ה,
צִפִּיתִי, הוֹחַלְתִּי עַד-בּוֹשׁ – אֵינָם שָׁבִים.
וְשִׁירַת הַזֹּהַר לָנֶצַח נָדַמָּה –
אַךְ-עָמֹק בַּלֵּב כָּמוּס עִמִּי הֵד קוֹלָהּ,
וּבְתוֹךְ בָּבוֹת עֵינַי שָׁמַרְתִּי זִיו אוֹרָהּ;
וּנְעִים חֲלוֹמוֹת חַיַּי בָּאָרֶץ הַגְּדוֹלָה,
וִיקַר חֶזְיוֹנוֹתַי – מֵעֵינָהּ נִשְׁאָבִים,
וּטְהוֹרִים וְרָוִים וּבְרוּכִים מִמְּקוֹרָהּ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

  1. Shem meforash, the Tetragrammaton.
  2. A nickname for the pears that ripened in Eastern Europe in late summer/early fall, when Yom Kippur falls.
  3. Bialik is probably talking about a ladybug here. The Russian term for a ladybug is, somewhat inexplicably, “божья коровка,” which means “God’s little cow” (although in Ukrainian, equally inexplicably, it’s sometimes “сонечка,” “little Sonia,” and sometimes “божа корівка,” which is the same as the Russian). The Yiddish-speaking Jews of the region seem to have adopted the general idea of the term, but perhaps uncomfortable with the thought of assigning God a cow, changed it to “Moses’ horse,” which Bialik then translates to Hebrew, probably mostly for meter’s sake, as “the son of the horse of Moses our Teacher,” which is a heavy trip to lay on a poor little ladybug.
  4. Tzafririm. “Zephyr” is the usual translation, I think mostly for phonological similarity, but the tzafrir is a distinct entity in Jewish folklore. In Jewish demonology, which historically exerted a huge influence on Jewish belief and practice, especially in the Middle Ages and on down to the Haskalah, and especially on the Ashkenazi Jews, tzafririm were fairy-like spirits associated with sunlight. Although one might think such a being would be fairly innocuous, they were viewed as at best mischievous and at worst blatantly malevolent, as the reader may notice in “Zohar” itself.
Apr 042013
 

A commenter asked me if I could help with a translation of this section of “Shirim le-Il’il” for a film project. I liked the poem quite a lot, and was more or less pleased with the resulting translation, so I’m posting it here too. And let’s wish our new film-making friend luck in all his future cinematic endeavors.

Shaul Tchernichovsky (1875 – 1943)
You Don’t Even Know

You don’t even know…

You don’t even know, so lovely you are!
      How straight your legs rise,
          How wond’rous the line
    Hinting the way to the charms of your thighs
    With strength and with softness, with coquetry, grace,
  Like the trace of a swell that follows the wave
      That remains on the back of the sandbar—
  You don’t even know, so lovely you are!

You don’t even know, so lovely you are!
      Like two almonds your eyes
          Hewn deep as the sea,
    Caught by hints of Creation, as if each testifies
    To decrees’ deepest secrets in tongues everlasting
Calling you, tempting, enchanting, demanding —
    You froze and you showed no regard—
  You don’t even know, how lovely you are!

You don’t even know, so lovely you are!
      In my bliss, in the moment
          You’re all of you mine
    In mischief, in tempests of wild things potent,
    You’re caught up and not, you’re in hand and out,
In thralldom and freedom, a nesting swift’s fledgling,
       Like a fire-fled spark flown afar —
You don’t even know, how lovely you are!

שאול טשרניחובסקי
את אינך יודעת

 
אַתְּ אֵינֵךְ יוֹדַעָת…
 
אַתְּ אֵינֵךְ יוֹדַעָת מַה מְּאֹד יָפְיָפִית!
   מַה זְּקוּפוֹת רַגְלַיִךְ,
      מַה נִּפְלָא הַקַּו
  הַמְרֻמָּז עַד חֶמְדַּת שׁוֹקַיִךְ
  בְּעָזְמָה וּבְרֹךְ, בְּגַנְדְּרָנוּת וּבְחֵן,
 כְּעִקְּבוֹת בַּת־גַּלִּים עַל גַּבֵּי תֵל־חוֹל
  שֶׁלְּאַחַר הַכְּרִית —
 אַתְּ אֵינֵךְ יוֹדַעָת, מַה מְּאֹד יָפְיָפִית!
 
אַתְּ אֵינֵךְ יוֹדַעָת, מַה מְּאֹד יָפְיָפִית!
   עֵינַיִךְ שְׁנֵי שְׁקֵדִים
      חֲצוּבִים כְּרוּם־יָם,
  כִּשְׁבוּיוֹת סוֹד־בְּרֵאשִׁית, וּכְעֵדִים
  לְמִסְתְּרֵי גְזֵרָה בִּשְׂפַת עֲדֵי־עַד
לָךְ קוֹרְאִים, וּמְפַתִּים וּמְקַסְּמִים בְּצָו —
  קָפָאת וְלֹא עָנִית —
 אַתְּ אֵינֵךְ יוֹדַעָת, עַד־מַָה יָפְיָפִית!
 
אַתְּ אֵינֵךְ יוֹדַעָת, מַה מְּאֹד יָפְיָפִית!
   וּבְאָשְׁרִי, בָּרְגָעִים
      אַתְּ כֻּלֵךְ שֶׁלִּי
  בִּמְשׁוּבָה וְסַעַר אוֹן־פְּרָאִים,
  אַתְּ תְּפוּסָה וְלֹא תּפוּסָה, בַּיָּד וְלֹא בַיָּד,
נִכְבָּשָׁה וְחָפְשִׁיָּה, כְּנִיצוֹץ פְּלִיט־אֵשׁ,
   כְּאֶפְרֹחַ קֵן־סִיס —
אַתְּ אֵינֵךְ יוֹדַעָת, עַד־מַָה יָפְיָפִית!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

At éineikh yodá’as…

At éineikh yodá’as mah me’ód yofyófis!
Mah zekúfos ragláyikh,
Mah níflo ha-káv
Hamrúmoz ad khémdas shokáyikh
Be-ózmoh uv-rókh, be-gandrónus uv-khéin
Ke-íkvos bas-gálim al gábei teil-khól
Shelákhar ha-krís —
At éineikh yodá’as, mah me’ód yofyófis!

At éineikh yodá’as mah me’ód yofyófis!
Eináyikh shnei shkéidim
Khatzúvim krum-yóm,
Kishvúyos sod-bréishis, ukh’éidim
Le-místrei gezéirah bisfás adéi-ad
Lokh kórim, umfátim umekásmim be-tzóv —
Kófos ve-ló ónis —
At éineikh yodá’as ad mah yofyófis!

At éineikh yodá’as mah me’ód yofyófis!
Uv’óshri, borgó’im
At kúleikh shelí
Bimshúvoh ve-sá’ar on-pró’im,
At tefúsoh ve-ló tefúsoh, ba-yód ve-ló va-yód,
Nikhbóshoh ve-khofshíyoh, ke-nítzotz plit eish,
Ke-efróakh kein sis —
At éineikh yodá’as ad mah yofyófis!

Jan 212013
 

It is (to use the meteorological term) cold as a motherfucker today. And while I was outside with the dog, still (to use the medical term) sick as a motherfucker, hacking out instantly frozen bits of my lungs into the icy wind, this classic Bialik number about a very cold day came to mind. This is actually the first section of a poem in two parts, but what does anyone honestly expect from me anymore. I’m mostly cough syrup and ennui at this point.

Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik (1873 – 1934)
From the Winter Poems (Part 1)

Down the Rock cast a day cut out from quartz,
A cruel day, compacted of cold, ice and frost.

The heights of the heavens, the sweep of the earth,
The light and the air, as if one piece of work.

The world must have softened; the Maker, so facile,
Surely set it by night on the back of his anvil,

His hammer raised high, a great blow from his arm,
God summoned his might and breathed forth: be you firm!

The whole night ‘twixt hammer and anvil he pounded,
As if all his might, so it seemed, he endowed it.

And so with the sun came a day fierce and bristling,
With might everlasting kept sealed in and glistening.

And scintillas of radiance in the air are yet gleaming,
From the spirit of God, from his mouth’s breath yet steaming.

And through them the morning light filters so precious,
Its warmth snatched away, nothing left but its radiance.

There’s no end to the radiance, the frost’s white is boundless,
From ground unto heaven, from house unto forest.

And through thirteen sieves the day’s snowfall is sifted,
As if all has been covered in glass, pale and limpid.

Like helmets of marble seem the roofs now in view,
And half of them sparkle, and half are sky-blue,

In the eyes of all life and the sun how they shimmer —
With only the ravens to make them seem dimmer,

On the hyaline coating they’re slipping and squawking,
And pecking and scratching — and off in flight flocking.

And the smoke of the chimneys, like the Ancient One’s beard,
Curls skyward in splendor; in the heights disappears.

And through all creation, ice ablaze seethes and courses,
And plants like a nail in all hearts mighty forces;

So solid and lucid’s the world! Know its might —
To hold itself back, to bind its strength tight.

From such might kept in check, such powers held under
Great oaks in the forest would be rent asunder.

As if bound up in chains were the pillars of Earth,
The very same moment they thought they might burst,

And yet ‘gainst their shackles they still clang and clatter —
And ere long before them the world’s bound to shatter!

חיים נחמן ביאליק
משירי החורף, חלק א


הַצּוּר הוֹרִיד לָנוּ יוֹם חָזָק מִצֹּר,
יוֹם עָז, מוּצָק אֶחָד כְּפוֹר, קֶרַח וָקֹר.

רוּם עוֹלָם, כָּל-כַּדּוּר הָאָרֶץ מִתַּחַת,
הָאוֹר וְהָאַוֵּר כְּעֵין מִקְשָׁה אַחַת.

אֵין זֹאת כִּי נִתְרוֹפֵף הָעוֹלָם – וּנְתָנוֹ
הַיּוֹצֵר בַּלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה עַל-גַּב סְדָנוֹ,

וַיָּנֶף פַּטִּישׁוֹ, וּבְהַלְמוּת עֲנָק
אֵל קָרָא לַכֹּחַ וַיִּשֹּׁם: חֲזָק!

וְלֵיל תָּמִים בֵּין פַּטִּישׁ וּסְדָן אוֹתוֹ רִקַּע,
וּכְאִלּוּ כָל-כֹּחוֹ, כִּבְיָכוֹל, בּוֹ שִׁקַּע.

וַיֵּצֵא עִם-שֶׁמֶשׁ יוֹם עַזִּיז וּמְסֻמָּר
וְכֹחַ עוֹלָמִים בּוֹ חָסוּם וּמְשֻׁמָּר.

וְעוֹד תְּלוּיִם בָּאַוֵּר צַחְצוּחֵי הַזִּיו
מִנִּשְׁמַת אֱלוֹהַּ, מֵאֵד רוּחַ פִּיו.

וְאוֹר בֹּקֶר מִסְתַּנֵּן עֲלֵיהֶם בִּיקָרוֹ,
וְנִטַּל כָּל-חֻמּוֹ וְנִשְׁאַר זָהֳרוֹ.

וְאֵין סוֹף לַלַּבְנוּנִית וְלַזֹּהַר אֵין קֵץ,
מִתַּחְתִּית עַד-רוֹם וּמִבַּיִת עַד-עֵץ.

וְהַשֶּׁלֶג בִּשְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה נָפָה מְנֻפֶּה,
כַּזְּכוּכִית הַלְּבָנָה עַל-כֻּלָּם מְצֻפֶּה.

וְהַגַּגּוֹת כְּכוֹבְעֵי הַשַּׁיִשׁ מַרְאִיתָם,
מַחֲצִיתָם מַבְהִיקִים וְעֵין תְּכֵלֶת מַחֲצִיתָם,

וּלְעֵינֵי כָל-חַי וְהַשֶּׁמֶשׁ מַזְהִירִים –
הָעוֹרְבִים לְבַדָּם עַל-גַּבָּם מַשְׁחִירִים,

מַחֲלִיקִים עַל-צִפּוּי הַזְּכוּכִית וְצֹרְחִים,
מְנַקְּרִים וְשׂרְטִים – וּפִתְאֹם הֵם פֹּרְחִים.

וַעֲשַׁן הָאֲרֻבּוֹת, כִּזְקַן עַתִּיק יוֹמִין,
מִסְתַּלְסֵל בֶּהָדָר וְנִשָּׂא לִמְרוֹמִים.

וְהַקֶּרַח הַלֹּהֵט בַּכֹּל מְפַעְפֵּעַ,
וּבְלֶב-כֹּל אוֹן אֵיתָן כַּמַּסְמֵר נוֹטֵעַ;

וּבָהִיר וּמוּצָק הָעוֹלָם! זֶה-כֹּחוֹ –
שֶׁכּוֹבֵשׁ אֶת-עַצְמוֹ וְהוּא חָזָק מִתּוֹכוֹ.

מֵרֹב אַמֵּץ כֹּחַ, מֵרֹב עֹצֶר אוֹנִים
מִתְבַּקְּעִים בַּיַּעַר חֲסִינֵי אַלּוֹנִים.

כְּמוֹ רֻתְּקוּ בַזִּקִּים כָּל-מְצוּקֵי הָאָרֶץ
בְּאוֹתוֹ הָרֶגַע שֶׁחִשְּׁבוּ הִתְפָּרֶץ,

וְהֵם חוֹתְרִים וְחוֹרְגִים מִמִּסְגְּרוֹתֵיהֶם –
עוֹד מְעַט וְהִתְפּוֹצֵץ הַכַּדּוּר מִפְּנֵיהֶם!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ha-tzúr hóyrid lónu yoym khózok mi-tzóyr,
Yoym oz, mútzok ékhod kfóyr, kérakh va-kóyr.

Rum óylom, kol kódur ho-óretz mi-tákhas,
Ho-óyr ve-ho-áveir ke-éin míkshoh ákhas.

Ein zoys ki nisróyfeif ho-óylom — unsánoy
Ha-yóytzeir ba-láiloh ha-zéh al gav sdánoy,

Va-yónef patíshoy, uvhálmus anók,
Eil kóro la-kóyakh va-yíshoym: khazók!

Ve-léil tómim bein pátish usdón óysoy ríka,
Ukhílu khol kóykho, kivyókhoyl, boy shíka.

Va-yéitzei im shémesh yoym áziz umsúmor
Ve-khóyakh oylómim boy khósum umshúmor.

Ve-óyd tlúyim bo-áveir tzakhtzúkhei ha-zív
Mi-níshmas elóah, mei-éid rúakh piv.

Ve-óyr bóyker mistánein aléiheim bikóroy,
Ve-nítal kol khúmoy ve-níshar zohóroy.

Ve-éin soyf la-lavnúnis ve-la-zóyhar ein keitz,
Mi-tákhtis ad roym u-mi-báyit ad eitz.

Ve-ha-shéleg bishlósh esréh nófoh menúpeh,
Kazkhúkhis halvónoh al kúlom metzúpeh.

Ve-ha-gágoys ke-kóyvei ha-sháyish marísom,
Makhtzísom mavhíkim ve-éin tekhéiles makhtzísom,

U-le-éinei khol khai ve-ha-shémesh mazhírim —
Ho-óyrvim levádom al gábom mashkhírim,

Makhlíkim al tzipúi hazkhúkhis ve-tzóyrkhim,
Menákrim ve-sóyrtim — u-físoym heim póyrkhim.

Va-ashán ho-arúboys, kizkán átik yóymin,
Mistálseil be-hódor ve-níso limróymim.

Ve-ha-kérakh ha-lóyheit ba-kóyl mefapéi’a,
Uv-lév-kol oyn éiton ka-másmeir noytéi’a;

U-vóhir u-mútzok ho-óylom! Zeh kóykhoy —
She-kóyvesh es átzmoy ve-hú khózok mi-tóykhoy.

Mei-róyv ámeitz kóyakh, mei-róyv óytzer óynim
Misbákim ba-yá’ar khasínei alóynim.

Kmoy rútku va-zíkim kol metzúkei ho-óretz
Be-óysoy ho-réga she-khíshvu hispóretz,

Ve-héim khóysrim ve-khóyrgim mi-misgeroyséihem —
Oyd me’át ve-hispóytzeitz ha-kádur mipnéihem!

Jan 182013
 

Bialik describes here – in part – from whence he derived his poetic gift. This poem’s far superior companion piece, “Zohar,” fills out the other part of the equation. But one step at a time. It’s amphibrachic tetrameter, y’all, just like the original. Oh snap.

Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik (1873 – 1934)
My Song

Do you know the way I fell heir to my music? —
There dwelt in my father’s house one lonely poet,
So humble, and hidden, concealed ‘mongst the dishes,
Lamenting in crannies, at home in dark fissures.
This poet knew only one regular chorus,
A single song, constant, a familiar version.
Whenever my heart was struck dumb, and my tongue too
In clouded affliction would cleave to my palate,
And held back choked off in my throat was the sobbing —
He’d come with his song over my empty spirit.

This poet of poverty was called the cricket.

As father prepared as a pauper his Shabbos;
The table lacked challah and wine for the kiddush;
The lamps had been pawned, in their places were smoking
A few skinny candles mashed down into mortar
That set the walls dancing; and then seven children
Each one of them hungry and some of them sleeping,
Encircled the table; our mother, dejected
To hear them sing peace to the ministr’ing angels;
Ashamed of his sin, it seemed, poor and despondent,
Our father takes up the decrepit knife, slicing
A chunk of black bread and a tail of herring —
While we were yet chewing, and ere the brief taste of
That slice dipped in salt from our poor mouths was wiped out —
That slice, black and sour, so bland, almost spoiled —
We broke out in tears as if robbed, wholly wretched,
And sang out zemiros along with our father
With rumbling bellies, with hearts wholly hollow —
And then too the cricket would join in the chorus,
And chirp out zemiros from his dusky cranny.

‘Twas during the rains, in the evening’s twilight,
My father’s house ruled by the still of great sadness,
His body seemed crushed by a reverie, silent,
A dream in lone corners of abomination.
This pressure of need and the still of sheer want,
When seven young souls raise their eyes up in question —
Such desolate corners, a tear stopped from falling;
On top of the oven the tomcat is yowling,
No bread in the basket, the starter — still proofing,
For heat there’s no charcoal or kasha for cooking —
And then from a crack in the wall peeked the cricket
And droned out his melody, dry and so empty,
Which nibbles my heart like a moth; my soul’s hollow.
His song neither raged nor consoled, but lamented,
It knew not of curses — it was desolation;
As desolate as death and as wasted life’s vapor,
And mourning, so endlessly, ceaselessly mourning.

And where from all this came my sigh, do you know?
My mother was widowed; her children were orphaned.
As she rose from mourning the worries received her:
All sources of income were blocked off and sealed.
She looked all around; her whole world had been emptied,
And widow- and orphanhood were all she witnessed.
The tick of the clock even seemed to grow weaker,
The walls of the house seemed to be mutely crying,
With wrath and with mercy each corner fell silent.
“Oh, Lord of the Universe!” sighed out the woman —
“I’m falling – support me! I’m naught but a widow!
Provide for the chicks in my nest – I’ve no strength left!”
Her flesh and her blood then she’d haul to the market.
At night she’d return, if her soul was yet breathing,
Each penny she brought home was gathered with curses,
And soaked in her heart’s blood and dipped in gall, bitter,
And when she came back, a dog worn and beaten —
‘Til midnight her lamp she would never extinguish,
Her deft hands through socks always pulling the needle,
And silent she’d sigh from her pains’ combination.
Each nod of her head and her hands’ every movement
Would cause the lamp’s flame to jump, flick’ring and trembling,
As if to her nodding, “I’m sorry, poor woman!”
A pity, a mother’s heart rotting in anger,
The warmth of her breath carried off upon curses.
And when she laid down, then beneath her weak body
At great length her broken-down bed would groan, creaking
As if from the weight of distress it might buckle —
The whispered Shema, though devoured by sighing,
Crossed over at length to the place I was sleeping.
I heard every break, every joint of her body,
It was to my heart as the sting of scorpion.

At dawn with the crow of the cock she arises,
And takes up the housework as always in silence.
From my darkened room, from my place in the cradle,
Her enfeebled body I saw through the doorway,
By paltry light over a lump of dough leaning,
With poor slender hands she’d be kneading and kneading.
The bench shakes and totters from under the basin —
A whisper in silence, a sigh borne of ruin
Slips out with each dip of the hand in the dough bowl,
Uprooted and carried to me from the kitchen:
“Oh Lord of the Universe, brace me, support me!
I’ve no strength! I’ve no life! I’m only a woman!”
And to me my heart now says “Here I am,” knowing
That into the dough her own eyes’ tears were dripping.
In each morning’s loaves she baked hot for her children,
From each piece of dough, from the bread of her weeping —
Her deep sigh rose through all the bones of my body.

חיים נחמן ביאליק
שירתי


הֲתֵדַע מֵאַיִן נָחַלְתִּי אֶת-שִׁירִי? –
בְּבֵית אָבִי הִשְׁתַּקַּע מְשׁוֹרֵר עֲרִירִי,
צָנוּעַ, מִסְתַּתֵּר, הַנֶּחְבָּא אֶל-כֵּלִים,
מִתְלוֹנֵן בִּנְקִיקִים, שְׁכַן סְדָקִים אֲפֵלִים.
וַיֵּדַע הַמְשׁוֹרֵר רַק פִּזְמוֹן קָבוּעַ,
שִׁיר תָּמִיד יְחִידִי וּבְנֻסָּח יָדוּעַ.
וּמִדֵּי נֶאֱלַם לְבָבִי, וּלְשׁוֹנִי
מִמַּכְאוֹב נֶעְכָּר אֶל-חִכִּי דָבֵקָה,
וּבְכִי עָצוּר מָעוּךְ הִתְאַפֵּק בִּגְרוֹנִי –
וּבָא הוּא בְשִׁירוֹ עַל-נַפְשִׁי הָרֵיקָה.

זֶה הָיָה הַצְּרָצַר מְשׁוֹרֵר הַדַּלּוּת.

בַּעֲשׂוֹת אָבִי חֹל אֶת-שַׁבַּתּוֹ מֵעֹנִי;
מְחֻסָּר הַשֻּׁלְחָן יֵין קִדּוּשׁ גַּם-חַלּוֹת;
הַמְּנוֹרוֹת חֲבוּלוֹת, בִּמְקוֹמָן עֲשֵׁנִים
מְעוּכִים בַּטִּיט נֵרוֹת רָזִים אֲחָדִים
מַרְקִידֵי הַכְּתָלִים; וְשִׁבְעָה יְלָדִים,
כֻּלָּמוֹ רְעֵבִים וּקְצָתָם יְשֵׁנִים,
יָסֹבּוּ הַשֻּׁלְחָן; אִמֵּנוּ עֲגוּמָה
לְקוֹל תִּתָּם שָׁלוֹם לְמַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת;
וּכְאָשֵׁם עַל-חֶטְאוֹ עָנִי וּנְכֵה-רוּחַ
בּוֹצֵעַ אַבִינוּ בְּשַׂכִּין פְּגוּמָה
עַל-פַּת לֶחֶם שָׁחֹר וּזְנַב דָּג מָלוּחַ –
עוֹדֶנּוּ לוֹעֲסִים וּבְטֶרֶם תִּכָּרֵת
הַפְּרוּסָה הַטְּבוּלָה בְּמֶלַח מִפִּינוּ,
הַפְּרוּסָה הַחֲמוּצָה, הַפְּגוּמָה, הַתְּפֵלָה,
נְעַלְּעֶנָּה בִדְמָעוֹת כַּעֲלוּבִים וּגְזוּלִים,
וּזְמִירוֹת נַעֲנֶה בְקוֹל אַחֲרֵי אָבִינוּ
מִבֶּטֶן הוֹמִיָּה, מִלְּבָבוֹת חֲלוּלִים –
אָז נִטְפַּל הַצְּרָצַר גַּם-הוּא לַמַּקְהֵלָה,
וַיְצַרְצַר בִּזְמִירוֹת מִסְּדַק הָאֲפֵלָה.

בִּהְיוֹת יְמֵי סַגְרִיר וּבְנֶשֶׁף הַלָּיְלָה,
בִּשְׁלֹט בְּבֵית אָבִי דְּמִי קַדְרוּת גְּדוֹלָה,
וַחֲלָלוֹ הַמְדֻכָּא כְּמוֹ הֹזֶה וְדוֹמֵם
וְחוֹלֵם חֲלוֹם עָגוּם בִּכְנַף שִׁקּוּץ שׁוֹמֵם.
זֹה עָקַת הַדַּחֲקוּת, דְּמִי דַלּוּת מְנֻוֶּלֶת,
בִּנְשֹׂא שֶׁבַע נְפָשׁוֹת עַיִן שׁוֹאֶלֶת –
זָוִיּוֹת שׁוֹמֵמוֹת, דִּמְעָה נֶעֱצָרֶת;
עַל-גַּבֵּי הַכִּירָה הֶחָתוּל מְיַלֶּלֶת,
בַּסַּל אֵין פַּת-לֶחֶם, שְׂאוֹר – בַּמִּשְׁאָרֶת,
לַחֲמָם אֵין גַּחֶלֶת, וּגְרִיסִין בַּסִּיר –
אָז הֵצִיץ הַצְּרָצַר מִנִּקְרַת הַקִּיר
וַיְנַסֵּר שִׁירָתוֹ הַיְבֵשָׁה, הָרֵיקָה,
כָּעָשׁ קוֹסְסָה לִבִּי, נִשְׁמָתִּי בּוֹקֵקָה.
לֹא-זָעֲפָה שִׁירָתוֹ, לֹא-נִחֲמָה, בָּכָתָה,
גַּם-קֹב לֹא יָדָעָה – שׁוֹמֵמָה הָיָתָה;
שׁוֹמֵמָה כַמָּוֶת, כַּהֲבֵל חַיֵּי תְפֵלָה,
וַאֲבֵלָה, בְּלִי אַחֲרִית וְתִכְלָה אֲבֵלָה.

וְאֵי מִזֶּה תָבֹא אַנְחָתִי יָדָעְתָּ?
אִמִּי נִתְאַלְמְנָה, בָּנֶיהָ נִתְיַתְּמוּ;
עַד-קָמָה מֵאֶבְלָהּ הַדְּאָגָה קִדְּמַתָּה:
נִסְתַּתְּמוּ כָּל-מְקוֹרֵי פַרְנָסָה, נִסְתַּתְּמוּ.
הִבִּיטָה מִסְּבִיבָהּ: נִתְרוֹקֵן עוֹלָמָהּ,
וְאַלְמֹן וִיתֹם בַּאֲשֶׁר עֵינָהּ נִבָּטָה.
גַּם-קוֹל הָאֻרְלֹגִין כְּמוֹ הֻמַּךְ מֵעָתָּה,
גַּם-כָּתְלֵי הַבַּיִת כְּמוֹ בוֹכִים בִּדְמָמָה,
וּבְזַעַף וּבְחֶמְלָה כָּל-זָוִית הֶחֱרִישָׁה.
“רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל-עוֹלָם! – נֶאֱנְחָה הָאִשָּׁה –
סָמְכֵנִי בַּל-אֶפֹּל, אַלְמָנָה אָנֹכִי;
פַּרְנֶס-נָא אֶפְרֹחַי כְּתוֹלָעִים – מַה-כֹּחִי?”
אָז תּוֹצִיא הַשּׁוּקָה אֶת-חֶלְבָּהּ וְדָמָהּ.
בָּעֶרֶב הִיא שָׁבָה כָּל-עוֹד בָּהּ נְשָׁמָה,
כָּל-פְּרוּטָה הֵבִיאָה נֵאָרָה בַמְּאֵרָה,
רְקוּקָה בְדַם-לִבָּהּ וּטְבוּלָה בִמְרֵרָה,
וּבְשׁוּבָהּ רְצוּצָה כְּכַלְבָּה מֻדָּחָהּ –
עֲדֵי חֲצוֹת הַלַּיְלָה לֹא כִבְּתָה אֶת-נֵרָהּ
וְיָדֶיהָ בַפֻּזְמָק בַּמַּחַט שָׁלָחָה,
וְדוּמָם מִתַּמְצִית מַכְאוֹבָהּ נֶאֱנָחָה.
וּלְכָל-מְנוֹד רֹאשָׁהּ וּלְכָל-תְּנוּעַת יָדָהּ
שַׁלְהֶבֶת הַנֵּר הִזְדַּעֲזָעָה, חָרָדָה,
כְּמוֹ נָדָה לָהּ: צַר-לִי עָלַיִךְ, אֻמְלָלָה!
חֲבָל עַל לֵב אֵם אֲשֶׁר-יִמַּק בִּקְצָפָה,
עַל-חֹם הֶבֶל פִּיךְ שֶׁיִּנָּדֵף בִּקְלָלָה.
וּבְשָׁכְבָהּ – זְמַן רַב תַּחַת גּוּפָהּ הָרָפֶה
נֶאֶנְחָה, נֶאֶנְקָה מִטָּתָהּ הַפְּרוּקָה,
כְּמוֹ חִשְּׁבָה הִתְמוֹטֵט מִנֵּטֶל הַמְּצוּקָה –
וּלְחִישָׁה שֶׁל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע בַּאֲנָחוֹת טְרוּפָה
זְמַן רַב עוֹד הִגִּיעָה אֵלַי עַל-מִשְׁכָּבִי.
שָׁמַעְתִּי כָל-שֵׁבֶר כָּל-פֶּרֶק מִגּוּפָהּ,
וַיְהִי כַּעֲקִיצַת עַקְרַבִּים לִלְבָבִי.

בַּשַּׁחַר עִם-קְרִיאַת הַגֶּבֶר הִיא קָמָה,
בִּמְלֶאכֶת הַבַּיִת עוֹסֶקֶת בִּדְמָמָה.
מֵחֶדְרִי הָאָפֵל, מִתּוֹךְ הָעֲרִיסָה,
בְּעַד הַפֶּתַח רָאִיתִי אֶת-גּוּפָהּ הַקָּלוּשׁ,
לְאוֹר נֵר דַּל תִּכַּף עַל-גַּבֵּי הָעִסָּה
וְיָדָהּ הַדַּקָּה שָׁם תָּלוּשׁ וְתָלוּשׁ.
יִתְנוֹדֵד הַסַּפְסָל תַּחַת הָעֲרֵבָה –
וּלְחִישָׁה חֲרִישִׁית וַאֲנָחָה חֲרֵבָה
עַל כָּל-טְבִיעַת יָד, עַל כָּל-לִישָׁה וְלִישָׁה,
נֶעֱקֶרֶת וּבָאָה מִן-הַחֶדֶר הַשֵּׁנִי:
“רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל-עוֹלָם, חַזְּקֵנִי וְסָמְכֵנִי!
מַה-כֹּחִי, מָה חַיָּי? וַאֲנִי בִלְתִּי אִם-אִשָּׁה.”
וּלְבָבִי לִי אוֹמֵר וְיוֹדֵעַ הִנֵּנִי,
כִּי-נָטְפָה לַבָּצֵק גַּם דִּמְעַת עֵינֶיהָ.
וּבְחַלְּקָהּ פַּת שַׁחֲרִית חַמָּה לִילָדֶיהָ
מִמַּאֲפֵה בְצֵקָהּ, מִלֶּחֶם דִּמְעָתָהּ –
וָאֲעַלַּע, וַתָּבֹא בַעֲצָמַי אַנְחָתָהּ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ha-séida mei-áyin nokhálti es shíri?
Bveis óvi hishtáka meshóyrer aríri,
Tzonúa, mistáteir, ha-nékhbo el kéilim,
Mislóynein binkíkim, shkhan sdákim aféilim.
Va-yéida hamshóyrer rak pízmoyn kovúa,
Shir tómid yekhídi uvnúsakh yodúa.
U-mi-déi nélam levóvi, ulshóyni
Mi-mákhoyv nékar el khíki dovéikoh,
Uvkhí ótzur mó’úkh hisápeik bigróyni —
U-vó hu ve-shíroy al náfshi ho-réikoh.

Zeh hóyoh hatzrótzar meshóyrer ha-dálus.

Ba’asóys óvi khoyl es shabáso mei-óni;
Mekhúsar ha-shúlkhon yein kídush gam kháloys;
Hamnóyroys khavúloys, bimkóymon ashéinim
Me’úkhim ba-tít néyroys rózim akhádim
Markídei haksóylim; ve-shívoh yelódim,
Kulómoy re’éivim uktzósom yeshéinim,
Yosóybu ha-shúlkhon; iméinu agúmoh,
Le-kóyl títam shóloym le-málakhey ha-shóreys;
Ukhósheim al khétoy óni unkhéi rúakh
Boytzéia avínu be-sákin pegumóh
Al pas lékhem shákhor uznáv dog molúakh —
Oydénu loyásim uvtérem tikáreis
Ha-prúsoh hatvúloh be-mélakh mi-pínu,
Ha-prúsoh hakhmútzoh, hapgúmoh, hatféiloh,
Ne’alénoh vidmó’oys kalúvim ugzúlim,
Uzmíroys náneh be-kóyl ákhrei ovínu
Mi-béten homíyoh, milvóvoys khalúlim —
Oz nítpal hatzrótzar gam hu la-makhéiloh,
Vaitzártzar bizmíroys misdák ho-aféiloh.

Bihyóys yeméi ságrir uvnéshef ha-láiloh,
Bishlóyt be-véis óvi demí kádrus gedóyloh,
Vakhlóloy hamdúko kmóy hóyzeh ve-dóymeim
Ve-khóyleim khlóym ógum bikhnáf shíkutz shóymeim.
Zoy ókas ha-dákhkut, demí dálus menuvéles,
Binsóy shéva nefóshoys áyin shoyéles —
Zovíyoys shoyméimoys, dímoh ne’etzóres;
Al gábei ha-kíroh he-khótul meyaléles,
Ba-sál ein pas lékhem, se’óyr — ba-mishóres,
Lákhmom ein gakhéles, ugrísin ba-sír —
Oz héitzitz hatzrótzar mi-níkras ha-kír
Vaináseir shirósoy haivéishoh, ho-réikoh,
Ko-ósh kóysesoh líbi, nishmósi boykéikoh.
Loy zófoh shirósoy, loy níkhmoh, bokhósoh,
Gam koyv loy yodó’oh — shoyméimoh hoyósoh;
Shoyméimoh kha-móves, ka-havéil kháyei tféiloh,
Vavéiloh, bli ákhris ve-síkhloh avéiloh.

Ve-éi mi-zéh sóvoy ankhósi yodóto?
Ími nisálmnoh, boného nisyátmu;
Ad kómoh mei-évloh hadógoh kidmátoh:
Nistátmu kol mkóyrei farnósoh, nistátmu.
Hibítoh misvívoh: nisróykein oylómoh,
Ve-álmoyn visóym ba’ashér éinoh nibótoh.
Gam koyl ha-urlóygin kmóy húmakh mei-ótoh,
Gam kóyslei ha-báyis kmóy vóykhim bidmómoh,
Uvzá’af uvkhémloh kol zóvis hekhríshoh.
“Ribóynoy shel óylom!” ne’énkhoh ho-íshoh —
“Somkhéini bal époyl, almónoh onóykhi;
Párnes-no efráykhai ke-toló’im — mah kóykhi?”
Oz tóytzi ha-shúkoh es khélboh ve-dómoh.
Bo-érev hi shóvoh kol oyd boh neshómoh,
Kol prútoh heivíoh neióroh vaméiroh,
Rekúkoh ve-dám líboh utvúloh vimréiroh,
Uvshúvoh retzútzoh ke-khálboh mudókhoh —
Adéi khtzóys ha-láiloh loy khíbtoh es néiroh
Ve-yadého va-púzmok ba-mákhat sholókhoh,
Ve-dúmom mi-támtzis makhóyvoh nenókhoh.
Ulkhól menóyd róyshoh ulkhól tnúas yódoh
Shalhéves ha-néir hizdazó’oh, khoródoh,
Kmóy nódoh loh, “Tzar li oláyikh, umlóloh!”
Khvál al leiv eim ashér yímak biktzófoh,
Al khoym hével pikh she-yinódeif biklóloh.
Uvshókhvoh — zman rav tákhas gúfoh ho-rófeh
Ne’énkhoh, ne’énkoh mitótoh haprúkoh,
Kmóy khíshvoh hismóyteit mi-néitel hamtzúkoh —
Ulkhíshoh shel krías shma banókhoys terúfoh
Zman rav oyd higíoh eilái al mishkóvi.
Shomáti khol shéiver kol pérek mi-gúfoh,
Vayhí ka-akítzas akrábim lilvóvi.

Ba-shákhat im krías ha-géver hi kómoh,
Bimlékhes ha-báyis oysékes bidmómoh.
Mei-khédri ho-ófeil, mi-tóykh ho-‘arísoh,
Bad ha-pésakh ro’ísi es gúfoh ha-kólush,
Le-óyr neir dal tíkaf al gábei ho-ísoh
Ve-yódoh ha-dákoh shom tólush ve-tólush.
Yisnóydeid ha-sáfsol tákhas ho-aréivoh —
Ulkhíshoh kharíshis vanókhoh kharéivoh
Al kol tvías yod, al kol líshoh ve-líshoh,
Nekéres u-vó’oh min ha-khéder ha-shéini:
“Ribóynoy shel óylom! Khazkéini ve-somkhéini!
Mah kóykhi, moh kháyai? Vaní vílti im íshoh.”
Ulvóvi li óymeir ve-yoydéia hinéini,
Ki nótfoh la-bótzeik gam dímas einéiho.
Uvkhálkoh pas shákhris khámoh lilodého
Mi-máfei vetzéikoh, mi-lékhem dimósoh —
Va-ála, va-távoy vatzómai ankhósoh.

Jan 162013
 

I am terribly ill. But if I saw a blank spot on that stupid sidebar calendar after this long, it would eat away at me. So here, from the very depths of my disorientation, is a (short) translation.

Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik (1873 – 1934)
I Lurked Through the Night

I lurked through the night at your chamber
So desolate were you, not speaking;
With bewildered eyes at the window
Your spirit, astray, you were seeking —

You sought recompense for the faith of your youth1
And yet, my beloved, you failed to see it,
For like a dove trembling weak at your window
Struggled and doubted my spirit.

חיים נחמן ביאליק
הלילה ארבתי


הַלַּיְלָה אָרַבְתִּי עַל-חַדְרֵךְ
וָאֶרְאֵךְ שֹׁמֵמָה הֶחֱרַשְׁתְּ;
בְּעֵינַיִךְ הַנְּבוּכוֹת בַּחַלּוֹן
נִשְׁמָתֵךְ הָאֹבְדָה בִּקַּשְׁתְּ –

בִּקַּשְׁתְּ אֶת-גְּמוּל חֶסֶד נְעוּרָיִךְ –
וְאַתְּ לֹא-רָאִית, אֲהוּבָתִי,
כִּי כְּיוֹנָה חֲרֵדָה בְּחַלּוֹנֵךְ
הִתְחַבְּטָה, הִתְלַבְּטָה נִשְׁמָתִי.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ha-láiloh orávti al khádreikh
Vo-éreikh shoyméimoh hekhrásht;
Be-eináyikh hanvúkhoys ba-kháloyn
Nishmóseikh ho-óyvdoh bikásht —

Bikásht es gmúl khésed ne’uráyikh —
Ve-at lo ró’is, ahuvósi,
Ki ke-yóynoh kharéidoh be-khalóyneikh
Hiskhábtoh, hislábtoh nishmósi.

  1. Jeremiah 2:2: “Thus says the Lord: I remember the devotion (“faith”) of your youth, the love of your betrothal, how you followed after me in the desert, in a land unsown.” Probably my favorite verse of the Bible outside of the Song of Songs!