Jan 132015
 

Admiel Kosman (1957 – )
I’ll Live Above You, Far, Faraway, in the Realm of the Forms

I’ll live above you, far, faraway, in the realm of the Forms.
And your earth, stretched out underneath me, I won’t see again.
The twin mounts of your breasts I’ll block out with the bridge of my palms
placed over my eyes. I won’t look. I won’t heed. I won’t nourish

my eyes with the world of things seen.
I’ll hover alone, by myself, above you,
far away, in the realm of the Forms.

And your earth,
spread out underneath me,

that same earth
I won’t see again.

אדמיאל קוסמן
אחיה מעלייך, הרחק, בעולם האידיאות

 
אֶחְיֶה מֵעָלַיִךְ, הַרְחֵק, בְּעוֹלָם הָאִידֵיאוֹת.
וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ שֶׁלָּךְ, הַמְּתוּחָה מִתַּחְתַּי, לֹא אֶרְאֶה עוֹד.
אֶת שְׁנֵי הַרְרֵי הַשָּׁדַיִם שֶׁלָּךְ אֶחֱסֹם בְּגִשְׁרֵי הַכַּפּוֹת
שֶׁאֶתֵּן עַל עֵינַי. לֹא אַבִּיט. לֹא אֶרְאֶה. לֹא אָזוּן
 
אֶת עֵינַי בִּגְלִילֵי הַמַּרְאוֹת.
אֲרַחֵף לְבַדִּי לְבַדִּי, מֵעָלַיִךְ,
הַרְחֵק, בְּעוֹלָם הָאִידֵיאוֹת.
 
וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ שֶׁלָּךְ,
הַפְּרוּשָׂה מִתּחְתַּי,
 
אֶת הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת
לֹא אֶרְאֶה עוֹד.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Eḥyéh meiʕaláyikh, harḥéiq, ba-ʕolám ha-‘idéi’ot.
Ve-‘ét ha-‘áretz shelákh, hamtuḥáh mi-taḥtái, lo ‘er’éh ʕod.
‘Et shnéi hareréi ha-shadáyim shelákh ‘eḥesóm be-gishréi ha-kapót
she-‘etéin ʕal ʕeinái. Lo ‘abít. Lo ‘er’éh. Lo ‘azún

‘et ʕeinái bigliléi ha-mar’ót.
‘Araḥéif levadí levadí, meiʕaláyikh,
harḥéiq, ba-ʕolám ha-‘idéi’ot.

Ve-‘ét ha-‘áretz shelákh.
haprusáh mi-taḥtái,

‘et ha-‘áretz ha-zot
lo ‘er’éh ʕod.

Apr 272014
 

I picked up Admiel’s latest, “קטעים אתךָ” (with that very conspicuous qamatz so you wouldn’t be tempted to think he was being heteronormative or anything) while on a recent trip to the homeland, ת”ו. Amusingly, if you look in the inside cover at the publishing information, where Hebrew books’ authors and titles are usually printed in English to help foreign libraries do their cataloging and such, the English title is “You’re Awesome!” I can’t claim to always understand Admiel Kosman’s puckish sense of humor, but along with his capacity for lyrical sensuality and sensitive postmodern spirituality, it’s part of what so endears him to me. Also somewhat amusing is that while the book was put out by his normal publisher, the major Hebrew publishing house Ha-Kibbutz Ha-Me’uḥad, it was funded in part by the national lottery, Mif`al ha-Payis (campaign motto: “You need fortune (payis) in culture.”). This is not entirely surprising given that many of Israel’s schools are funded by and named for the national lottery, but still: what an odd little country we’ve built. Is there something slightly perverse about using the few shekels of the desperate and downtrodden to fund navelgazing poetry? I’m not going to think about it.

I am going to think about, having read this poem, whether Mr. Kosman had seen a certain episode of Sayed Kashua’s hysterical sitcom “Arab Labor,” which made the most lengthily hilarious use of the word “gvuli” since the speakers of proto-West Semitic laid down their first border. I’m going to imagine that he has. In any case, Admiel’s still got it.

Admiel Kosman (1957 – )
I Will Live for Your Sake in a Borderline Place

I will live for your sake in a borderline place,
the most borderline place there can be.

I’ll be hung for your sake
on a note, or the Y
of a graph, on a serif
I’ll hang, on a strip.
An elongated line.

While still me, I’ll be squeezed, breathing hard, and my way
I make clear, for your sake, on the paths of the past. Because
time is so short, my true love, and I need to make haste, while still me,

like a smuggler, sacks,
for your sake, like a thief, like a tout,
to set down, by myself, for your sake,
on the fence made of dust,

of the bounds of my thoughts, when that very same Me, that same Me
that returned, a bright flash, for your sake, within me, like a treasure, a cache,

I again, while still me, elongate,
just for you, elongate,

just for you, elongate

and stretch out, for your sake,
narrow in, on the fringe,

narrow in, for your sake, ‘tween
the paths of the past. For that’s me.

For that’s me. He who goes,
for your sake,
namelessly.

He who goes, for your sake,
with no name, in that place,
the most borderline place there can be.

אדמיאל קוסמן
אחיה בשבילך במקום הגבולי

 
אֶחְיֶה בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ בַּמָקוֹם הַגְּבוּלִי
בְּיוֹתֵר בָּעוֹלָם שֶׁאֶפְשֶׁר.
 
אֶתָּלֶה בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ עֲלֵי
תָּו, אוֹ אֲנָךְ, עֲלֵי תָּג,
עֲלֵי פַּס. עֲלֵי קַו מָאֳרָךְ.
 
וּבְעוֹדִי, אֶדָּחֵס, מִתְנַשֵּׁם, מְפַלֵּס
אֶת דַּרְכִּי, בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ, בְּשְׁבִילֵי הֶעָבָר, הֵן
הַזְּמַן כֹּה קָצָר, אֲהוּבָה, וְעָלַי לְמַהֵר, בְּעוֹדִי,
 
כְּמוֹ מַבְרִיחַ, שַׂקִּים,
בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ, כְּגַנָּב, כְּסַפְסָר,
לְהַנִּיחַ, עַצְמִי, בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ,
עַל גֶּדֶר הֶעָפָר,
 
שֶׁל גְּבוּלוֹת דִּמְיוֹנִי, כְּשֶׁאוֹתוֹ הָאֲנִי, הָאֲנִי
שֶׁחָזַר, מִתְנוֹצֵץ, בְּתוֹכִי, כְּאוֹצָר,
 
וְשׁוּב, בְּעוֹדִי, מִתְאָרֵך,
עֲבוּרֵךְ, מִתְאָרֵך,
 
עֲבוּרֵךְ, מִתְאָרֵך
 
וְנִמְתָּח, בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ,
מִתְגַּדֵּר, עַל הַסְּפָר,
 
מִתְגַּדֵּר, בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ, בֵּין
שְׁבִילֵי הֶעָבָר. זֶה אֲנִי.
 
זֶה אֲנִי. הַהוֹלֵךְ,
בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ,
אַלְמוֹנִי.
 
הַהוֹלֵךְ, בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ,
אַלְמוֹנִי, בַּמָקוֹם הַגְּבוּלִי
בְּיוֹתֵר בָּעוֹלָם שֶׁאֶפְשֶׁר.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Eḥeyéh bishviléikh ba-maqóm ha-gvulí
be-yotéir ba-ʕolám she-‘efshár.

‘Etaléh bishviléikh ʕaléi
tav, ‘o ‘anákh, ʕaléi tag,
ʕaléi pas. ʕaléi qav mo’arákh.

Uv-ʕodí, ‘edaḥéis, mitnashéim, mefaléis
‘et darkí, bishviléikh, bishviléi he-ʕavár. Hein
ha-zmán koh qatzár, ‘ahuváh, ve-ʕalái lemahéir, be-ʕodí,

Kmó mavríaḥ, saqím,
bishviléikh, ke-ganáv, ke-safsár,
lehaníaḥ, ʕatzmí, bishviléikh,
ʕal gedér he-ʕafár,

shel gvulót dimyoní, kshe-‘otó ha-‘aní, ha-‘aní
she-ḥazár, mitnotzéitz, bishviléikh, be-tokhí, ke-‘otzár,

Ve-shúv, be-ʕodí, mit’aréikh,
ʕavuréikh, mit’aréikh,

ʕavuréikh, mit’aréikh

ve-nimtáḥ, bishviléikh,
mitgadéir, ʕal ha-sfár,

mitgadéir, bishviléikh, bein
shviléi he-ʕavár. Zeh ‘aní.

Zeh ‘aní. Ha-holéikh,
bishviléikh,
‘almoní.

Ha-holéikh, bishviléikh,
‘almoní, ba-maqóm ha-gvulí
be-yotéir ba-ʕolám she-‘efshár.

Feb 142013
 

This is the way the book ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

Admiel Kosman (1957 – )
For Sweetly Sweet Is Death

for sweetly sweet is Death
and slowly slowly Death
if out my mouth slipped Death
and tied me to the tree

for sweetly sweet is Death
and leaning towards me’s Death
my lips are kissed by Death
but his heart comes inbetween

out out you bitter Death1
and hold me tightly Death
come and tie a ring of death
to the heart shocked still in me

break me hit me Death
make me ill2 O Death
please a rod of iron, Death
take skulls and shatter free

אדמיאל קוסמן
כי מתוק מתוק המוות

 
כְּי מָתוֹק מָתוֹק הַמָּוֶת
וּלְאַט לְאַט הַמָּוֶת
אִם יָצָא מִפִּי הַמָּוֶת
וְקָשַׁר אוֹתִי לָעֵץ
 
כְּי מָתוֹק מָתוֹק הַמָּוֶת
וְרוֹכֵן אֵלַי הַמָּוֶת
מְנַשֵׁק אוֹתִי הַמָּוֶת
רַק לִבּוֹ לְפִיו חוֹצֵץ
 
צֵא צֵא מַר מָוֶת
הַחֲזֵק אוֹתִי הַמָּוֶת
בּוֹא וּקְשֹׁר טַבַּעַת מָוֶת
עַל לִבִּי הַמִּשְׁתָּבֵץ
 
שְׁבֹר הַכֵּה אוֹתִי הַמָּוֶת
הַחֲלֵה אוֹתִי הַמָּוֶת
אָנָּא מוֹט בַּרְזֶל הַמָּוֶת
קַח גֻּלְגֹּלֶת וְרוֹצֵץ
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ki matók matók ha-mávet
U-le’át le’át ha-mávet
‘Im yatzá mi-pí ha-mávet
Ve-kashár ‘otí la-ʕeitz

Ki matók matók ha-mávet
Ve-rokhéin ‘eilái ha-mávet
Menashéik ‘otí ha-mávet
Rak libó le-fív ḥotzéitz

Tzei tzei mar mávet
Haḥazéik ‘otí ha-mávet
Bo ukhsór tabaʕát mávet
ʕal libí ha-mishtavéitz

Shvór hakéih ‘otí ha-mávet
Haḥaléih ‘otí ha-mávet
‘Ána mot barzél ha-mávet
Kaḥ gulgólet ve-rotzéitz

  1. As has been helpfully pointed out to me, the phrase mar mavet can mean “a drop of death” (my original translation), “the bitterness of death” (cf. 1 Samuel 15:32), or “Mister Death.” Kosman seems to be playing with all three meanings.
  2. This verb can also mean “to sweeten” or “to arouse someone’s compassion”.
Dec 272012
 

So I had to hem and haw for awhile over whether to translate kshe-nigmor as “when we’re done” or “when we come,” since in the Holy Tongue, in which the universe and all its wonders were uttered into being, the verb ligmor (“to finish”) also means “to arrive at one’s sexual climax” (I’m trying to keep it clinical. This is a family website. I actually had a crass joke all set to go, but people with actual religious ordination read this site. My goal is that in print I should be no crasser than R’ Yehuda al-Harizi זצ”ל, which actually gives me a lot of wiggle room). In the end, I went with “when we’re done,” because although Herr Kosman does indeed seem to be talking about coming, “when we’re done” gets the post-coital point across well enough, and preserves the “ambiguity,” such as it is, in the Hebrew verb. Yes, this is how I spend my time. Hi.

So, uh. Admiel Kosman’s id, superego and religion are all, like, super mixed up (to use the proper academic terminology). He’s actually pretty Catholic for a Jew.

Admiel Kosman (1957 – )
Instructions on the Box

Obliterate us when we’re done.
And let some pure air in.
If so it will be necessary
to obliterate us here. Right
here on the bench.

Obliterate us when we’re done.
When the last depleted, weakened word is on
our lips. Like the wings of birds. For him it would be
easy. He’d need only to obliterate
us just like that. In our clothes.
The moment that we’re done.

Obliterate us. Just like that. When we’re done.
The setting sun. The last notes of
a violin’s melody. The day now wipes away
the last remains of light. And it would be
beneath the fruit trees in the yard. The instant
that we’re done. And it would be beneath
the fruit trees in the yard. For him it would be
oh so easy,

so very easy! With a puff of breath, or with a word.
He’d only need a fingertip to move us
easily, rightward, leftward. Forward, straight.

Get up — annihilate, exterminate, obliterate
and just like that, still in our clothes. Cut the head
off at the neck.

Get up and shake it off.
And don’t recall a thing.

אדמיאל קוסמן
הוראות על הקופסה

 
לְהַשְׁמִיד אוֹתָנוּ כְּשֶׁנִּגְמֹר.
וּלְהַזְרִים לְכָאן אֲוִיר טָהוֹר.
צָרִיךְ יִהְיֶה אִם כָּךְ כְּבָר
לְהַשְׁמִיד אוֹתָנוּ כָּאן. יָשָׁר
עַל הַסַּפְסָל.
 
לְהַשְׁמִיד אוֹתָנוּ כְּשֶׁנִּגְמֹר.
כְּשֶׁהַמִּלָּה הָאַחֲרוֹנָה רָפָה וּמְדֻלְדֶּלֶת עַל
שְׂפָתֵינוּ. כְּמוֹ כַּנְפֵי צִפּוֹר. יִהְיֶה לוֹ
קַל מְאֹד. הוּא יִצְטָרֵךְ רַק לְהַשְׁמִיד
אוֹתָנוּ כָּכָה. בִּבְגָדֵינוּ.
בָּרֶגַע שֶׁנִּגְמֹר.
 
לְהַשְׁמִיד אוֹתָנוּ. כָּכָה. כְּשֶׁנִּגְמֹר.
שְׁקִיעָה. צְלִילִים אַחֲרוֹנִים שֶׁל
נְגִינַת כִּנּוֹר. הַיּוֹם מוֹחֶה שְׁיָרִים
אַחֲרוֹנִים שֶׁל אוֹר. וְזֶה יִהְיֶה
מִתַּחַת לַעֲצֵי הַפְּרִי שֶׁבֶּחָצֵר. מִיָּד
כְּשֶׁנִּגְמֹר. וְזֶה יִהְיֶה מִתַּחַת לַעֲצֵי הַפְּרִי
שֶׁבֶּחָצֵר. וְזֶה יִהְיֶה
לוֹ קַל. הוֹ קַל,
 
קַל כָּל כָּךְ! בְּהֶבֶל פֶּה. בְּמַאֲמָר.
הוּא יִצְטָרֵךְ אֶת קְצֵה הַזֶּרֶת לְהָזִיז
קַלּוֹת, יָמִינָה, שְׂמֹאלָה. קָדִימָה וְיָשָׁר.
 
לָקוּם וּלְהַצְמִית וּלְהַכְרִית וּלְהַשְׁמִיד
וְכָכָה בַּבְּגָדִים שֶׁלָּנוּ. לְהַתִּיז
אֶת הַצַּוָּאר.
 
לָקוּם וּלְנַעֵר.
וְלֹא לִזְכֹּר דָּבָר.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Lehashmíd ‘otánu kshe-nigmór.
U-lehazrím le-khán ‘avír tahór.
Tzaríkh yihyéh ‘im kakh kevár
lehashmíd ‘otánu kan. Yashár
ʕal ha-safsál.

Lehashmíd ‘otánu kshe-nigmór.
Ke-she-ha-miláh ha-aḥaronáh rafáh u-meduldélet ʕal
sfatéinu. Kemó kanféi tzipór. Yihyéh lo
kal me’ód. Hu yitztaréikh rak lehashmíd
‘otánu kákhah. Bivgadéinu.
Be-régaʕ she-nigmór.

Lehashmíd ‘otánu. Kákhah. Kshe-nigmór.
Shkiʕáh. Tzlilím ‘aḥaroním shel
neginát kinór. Ha-yóm moḥéh shyarím
‘aḥaroním shel ‘or. Ve-zéh yihyéh
mi-táḥat la-ʕatzéi ha-prí she-ba-ḥatzéir. Miyád
kshe-nigmór. Ve-zéh yihyéh mi-táḥat la-ʕatzéi
ha-prí she-ba-ḥatzéir. Ve-zéh yihyéh
lo kal. Ho kal,

kal kol kakh! Be-hével peh. Be-ma’amár.
Hu yitztaréikh ‘et ketzéih ha-zéret lehazíz
kalót, yemínah, smólah, kadímah ve-yashár.

Lakúm u-lehatzmít u-lehakhrít u-lehashmíd
ve-khákhah babgadím shelánu. Lehatíz
‘et ha-tzavár.

Lakúm u-lenaʕéir.
Ve-ló lizkór davár.

Dec 152012
 

Well, after my obscure little joke at Mr. Kosman’s expense, I have to redeem myself. So once again, a poem from Higaʕnu Leilohim. I had to offset this one. He loves the long lines, that Kosman. There are some rhymes going on here with galut – metikut – reikut and yaveish – mevakeish – loḥeish, but English just doesn’t work that way sometimes. English.

Admiel Kosman (1957 – )
We Heard Two Little Spoons of Sugar

We heard two little spoons of sugar conversing in the void. We stirred.
From the edges of the cup we heard again, as if from exile, the crying and the praying
of the grains of sweetness. They were scattered, they were reading, deeply felt, hosts of
verses to the emptiness. And again

we stirred. This time the movement was more sharp, and cruel too, like a knife.
We came down with the spoon into the water and struck a blow. On the head. Like
with fish. But in vain. The voice was very hoarse. And lost. So very dry.
And beaten down. And still, the-too-weak-voice-of-God would rise up from below. Beseeching.
As if groaning, as if whispering.

אדמיאל קוסמן
שמענו שתי כפיות סוכר

 
שָׁמַעְנוּ שְׁתֵּי כַּפִּיּוֹת סֻכָּר מְשׂוֹחֲחוֹת בָּרִיק. עִרְבַּבְנוּ.
שׁוּב שָׁמַעְנוּ מִקַּצְוֵי הַכּוֹס כְּמוֹ מִגָּלוּת, אֶת הַבְּכִיָּה, אֶת הַתְּפִלָּה,
שֶׁל גַּרְגְּרֵי הַמְּתִיקוּת. מְפֻזָּרִים הָיוּ, קוֹרְאִים הָיוּ, בְּרֶגֶשׁ רַב, פְּסוּקִים
רַבִּים אֶל הָרֵיקוּת. וְשׁוּב
 
עִרְבַּבְנוּ. הַפַּעַם הַתְּנוּעָה הָיְתָה חַדָּה, וְאַכְזָרִית כְּמוֹ סַכִּין.
יָרַדְנוּ עִם הַכַּף יָשָׁר אֶל תּוֹךְ הַמַּיִם וְחָבַטְנוּ. עַל הָרֹאשׁ. כְּמוֹ
בְּדָגִים. אֲבָל לַשָּׁוְא. הַקּוֹל הָיָה מְאֹד צָרוּד. אָבוּד. כָּזֶה יָבֵשׁ.
חָבוּט. וַעֲדַיִן, קוֹל־אֱלֹהִים־חַלָּשׁ־מְאֹד הָיָה עוֹלֶה מִלְּמַטָּה. מְבַקֵּשׁ.
כְּמוֹ גוֹנֵחַ אוֹ לוֹחֵשׁ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Shamáʕnu shtei kapiyót sukár mesoḥaḥót ba-rík. ʕirbávnu.
Shuv shamáʕnu mi-katzvéi ha-kós kemó mi-galút, ‘et ha-bekhiyáh, ‘et ha-tefiláh,
Shel gargeréi ha-metikút. Mefuzarím hayú, kor’ím hayú, be-régesh rav, pesukím
Rabím ‘el ha-reikút. Ve-shúv

ʕirbávnu. Ha-páʕam ha-tenuʕáh haytáh ḥadáh, ve-‘akhzarít kemó sakín.
Yarádnu ʕim ha-káf yashár ‘el tokh ha-máyim ve-ḥavátnu. ʕal ha-rósh. Kemó
Be-dagím. ‘Avál la-sháv. Ha-kól hayáh me’ód tzarúd. ‘Avúd. Ka-zéh yavéish.
Ḥavút. Ve-ʕadáyin, kol ‘elohím ḥalásh me’ód hayáh ʕoléh mi-lemátah. Mevakéish.
Kemó gonéiaḥ ‘o loḥéish.

Nov 062012
 

Admiel Kosman makes you work for it. From Higaʕnu Leilohim.

Admiel Kosman (1957 – )
We Were Sky Blue and Transparent

We were sky blue and transparent
and beautiful limitless.
And our brilliance spread out and flowed.
Our nakedness –
had a strange gleam.
The day wasn’t there.
And screamed into its light: night, night,
the night wasn’t there
And it yearned: day, day,

we listened to the beating of a great rhythm,
and we were beautiful limitless. Sky blue
and transparent the bodies.
And our brilliance spread out and flowed.
The trees brought forth summer fruit,
heavy and ripe, blazing
in speckled gold.

The day wasn’t there,
and it screamed: trickery!
The night wasn’t there,
utterly lost in the ways of the world,
unrecognized, unknown,
and we, my wife,
were beautiful,
marvelous, and our brilliance
spread out and flowed.
We didn’t speak. Naked we lay
beside the bodies.
And the water burbled
beside us in a murmur,
as if we were transparent.

From the blue mountains’ peak
they saw us,
a few yearning watchers of air saw,

that here we are, beautiful limitless. That our nakedness
grows and grows, that there’s no stranger with us,
and nothing not there, and that the day already touches the night,
when our brilliance spreads out and flows.

אדמיאל קוסמן
היינו תכולים ושקופים

 
הָיִינוּ תְּכֻלִּים וּשְׁקוּפִים
וְיָפִים לְלֹא גְבוּל.
וְזִיוֵנוּ פָּשַׁט וְנָהַר.
לְעֵירֻמֵּנוּ —
הָיָה בֹּהַק מוּזָר.
הַיּוֹם הָיָה חָסֵר.
וְצָעַק בְּאוֹרוֹ: לַיְלָה, לַיְלָה,
הַלַּיְלָה הָיָה חָסֵר.
וְהִתגַּעְגַּע: יוֹם, יוֹם.
 
הִקְשַׁבְנוּ לַפְּעִימוֹת קֶשֶׁב רַב,
וְהָיִינוּ יָפִים לְלֹא גְבוּל. תְּכֻלִּים
וּשְׁקוּפִים הָיוּ הַגּוּפִים.
וְזִיוֵנוּ פָּשַׁט וְנָהַר.
הָעֵצִים הִבְשִׁילוּ פֵּרוֹת־
קַיִץ כְּבֵדִים, לוֹהֲטִים
בְּצָהֹב מְנֻמָּר.
 
הַיּוֹם הָיָה חָסֵר,
וְצָעַק: תַּעְתּוּעַ!
הַלַּיְלָה הָיָה חָסֵר,
אָבוּד לְגַמְרֵי בְּדַרְכֵי הָעוֹלָם,
לֹא מֻכָּר, לֹא יָדוּעַ,
וְאֲנַחְנוּ, אִשְׁתִּי,
יָפִים הָיִינוּ
לְהַפְלִיא, וְזִיוֵנוּ
פָּשַׁט וְנָהַר.
לֹא דִבַּרְנוּ. עֵירֻמִּים נַחְנוּ
עַל יַד הַגּוּפִים.
וְהַמַּיִם פִּכּוּ
עַל יָדֵנוּ בְּלַחַשׁ
כְּאִלּוּ הָיִינוּ שְׁקוּפִים.
 
מִפִּסְגַּת הֶהָרִים הַכְּחֻלִּים
רָאוּ אוֹתָנוּ,
כַּמָּה צוֹפֵי־אֲוִיר גַּעְגּוּעִיִּים,
 
שֶׁהִנֵּה, אֲנַחְנוּ יָפִים לְלֹא גְבוּל. שֶׁעֵירֻמֵּנוּ
הוֹלֵךְ וְגוֹבֵר, וְשֶׁאֵין אִישׁ זָר אִתָּנוּ,
וְאֵין גַּם אֶחָד חָסֵר, וְשֶׁהַיּוֹם כְּבָר נוֹגֵעַ בַּלַּיְלָה,
כְּשֶׁזִּיוֵנוּ פּוֹשֵׁט וְנוֹהֵר.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Hayínu tekhulím u-shekufím
Ve-yafím leló gevúl.
Ve-zivéinu pashát ve-nahár.
Le-ʕeiruméinu —
Hayáh bóhak muzár.
Ha-yóm hayáh ḥaséir.
Ve-tzaʕák be-‘oró: láilah, láilah,
Ha-láilah hayáh ḥaséir.
Ve-hitgaʕgaʕ: yom, yom.

Hikshávnu la-peʕimót késhev rav,
Ve-hayínu yafím leló gevúl. Tekhulím
U-shekufím hayú ha-gufím.
Ve-zivéinu pashát ve-nahár.
Ha-ʕeitzím hivshílu peirót
Káyitz keveidím, lohatím
Be-tzahóv menumár.

Ha-yóm hayáh ḥaséir,
Ve-tzaʕák: taʕtúaʕ!
Ha-láilah hayáh ḥaséir,
‘Avúd le-gámrei be-darkhéi ha-ʕolám,
Lo mukár, lo yadúaʕ,
Ve-‘anáḥnu, ‘ishtí,
Yafím hayínu
Lehaflí, ve-zivéinu
Pashát ve-nahár.
Lo dibárnu. ʕeirumím náḥnu
ʕal yad ha-gufím.
Ve-ha-máyim pikú
ʕal yadéinu be-láḥash
Ke-‘ílu hayínu shekufím.

Mi-pisgát he-harím ha-keḥulím
Ra’ú ‘otánu,
Kámah tzoféi ‘avír gaʕguʕi’ím,

She-hinéi, ‘anáḥnu yafím leló gevúl. She-ʕeiruméinu
Holéikh ve-govéir, ve-she-‘éin ‘ish zar ‘itánu,
Ve-‘éin gam ‘eḥád ḥaséir, ve-she-ha-yóm kevár nogéiaʕ ba-láilah,
Ke-she-zivéinu poshéit ve-nohéir.

Oct 082012
 

If it hasn’t become apparent by now, I’m quite fond of Admiel Kosman. I’m also currently reading through the collection that bears this poem’s title for an independent study, so expect to see plenty more of Israeli poetry’s favorite heretical dos. If you don’t like it, well, you could always go back to the other Hebrew poetry in parallel translation blogs.

The highly conversational tone in the translation is quite deliberate. The Hebrew features, shall we say, a rather “dudely” cant – which is what makes this poem so particularly memorable.

Admiel Kosman (1957 – )
We Got to God

We got to God.
Totally by accident. Actually, we bumped into him.
We were halfway there, on the mountainside,
the donkeys bearing all the baggage,
and suddenly, where the road curves, when we turned to look,
we bumped into him.

He was looking for us too,
like a precious stone, he said, a pearl,
something that you’d lost.
When just like that, by accident,
completely random, halfway there, we got
to our intended land.
That is, we got to God.
And we found such reprieve from life.
It was totally by accident, that is,
halfway there, as we came down the mountain,
the donkeys and their bundles stood aside,
leaning forward and bent-kneed, at the narrow curve.
You couldn’t bear the heat.

At the path’s edge we bumped into him. To and fro. Standing in the middle.
To and fro. Too tall to say, fine as a hair, in the corner,
at the edge, we bumped into him, desperate, searching for
the precious stone, the pearl.

As far as we were concerned, we were halfway there and set to quit.
It could be we saw a pit. It could be we saw a pit of water,
and for a brief moment, we let ourselves step off the path.

But you couldn’t bear the heat, and the world burnt like a furnace.
And then, it seemed the sky before us was opened with a zipper.
And it fed our scorched eyes

with what no living soul nor mortal being had seen
since God created man to dominate and
rule over all this parched land.

אדמיאל קוסמן
הגענו לאלוהים

 
הִגַּעְנוּ לֵאלֹהִים.
לְגַמְרֵי בְּמִקְרֶה. לְמַעֲשֶׂה, נִתְקַלְנוּ בּוֹ.
הָיִינוּ בַּחֲצִי הַדֶּרֶךְ, בְּמוֹרַד הָהָר,
עִם כָּל מִטְעַן הַחֲמוֹרִים הָרַב,
וּלְפֶתַע, בְּעִקּוּל הַדֶּרֶךְ, כְּשֶׁהִטִינוּ לְהַבִּיט,
נִתְקַלְנוּ בּוֹ.
 
גַּם הוּא חִפֵּשׂ אוֹתָנוּ,
כְּמוֹ אֶבֶן יְקָרָה, אָמַר, כְּמוֹ מַרְגָּלִית,
מַמָּשׁ כְּמוֹ אֲבֵדָה.
כְּשֶׁכָּכָה, בְּמִקְרֶה לְגַמְרֵי,
בְּאַקְרַאי גָּמוּר, הָיִינוּ בַּחֲצִי הַדֶּרֶךְ, והִגַּעְנוּ
אֶל הָאָרֶץ הַיְּעוּדָה.
כְּלוֹמַר, הִגַּעְנוּ לֵאלֹהִים.
וּמָצָאנוּ מְנוּחָה גְמוּרָה מִן הַחַיִּים.
הָיָה זֶה לְגַמְרֵי בְּמִקְרֶה, דְּהַיְנוּ,
בַּחֲצִי הַדֶּרֶךְ, כְּשֶׁיָּרַדְנוּ מִן הָהָר,
הַחֲמוֹרִים וְהַשַּׂקִּים עָמְדוּ לְבַד,
שְׁמוּטִים וּכְפוּפֵי-בֶּרֶךְ, בָּעִקּוּל הַצַּר.
הַחֹם הָיָה כָּבֵד מִנְּשֹא.
 
בִּקְצֵה הַשְּׁבִיל נִתְקַלְנוּ בּוֹ. הוֹלֵךְ וּבָא. מַמָּשׁ בָּאֶמְצַע הוּא עָמַד.
הוֹלֵךְ וּבָא. לְאֵין שִׁעוּר גָּבוֹהַּ, דַּק כְּמוֹ שַׂעֲרָה, בְּקֶרֶן הַזָּוִית,
בִּקְצֵה הַשְּׁבִיל, נִתְקַלְנוּ בּוֹ, בְּחִפּוּשָׂיו הַנּוֹאָשִׁים,
אַחַר הָאֶבֶן הַיְקָרָה, אַחַר הַמַּרְגָּלִית.
 
אֲנַחְנוּ מִצִּדֵּנוּ כְּבָר הָיִינוּ בַּחֲצִי הַדֶּרֶךְ וְהִטִּינוּ לַחֲזֹר.
אוּלַי רָאִינוּ בּוֹר. אוּלַי רָאִינוּ בּוֹר שֶׁל מַיִם,
וְהִטִּינוּ אֶת עַצְמֵנוּ מִן הַשְּׁבִיל לְרֶגַע קָט.
 
אֲבָל הַחֹם הָיָה כָּבֵד מִנְּשֹא, וְהָעוֹלָם בָּעַר כְּמוֹ כִּבְשָׁן.
וְאָז, כְּמוֹ נִפְתְּחוּ כָּל הַשָּׁמַיִם לְפָנֵינוּ בִּמְשִׁיכַת רוֹכְסָן.
וְזַנּוּ אֶת עֵינֵינוּ הַשְּׂרוּפוֹת
 
בְּמַה שֶּׁלֹּא רָאָה אֱנוֹשׁ וּבֶן תְּמוּתָה מֵאָז
בָּרָא הָאֱלֹהִים אָדָם לִשְׁלֹט
עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה הַיְבֵשָׁה הַזֹּאת.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Higáʕnu leilohím.
Le-gámrei be-mikréh. Le-maʕaséh, nitkálnu bo.
Hayínu ba-ḥatzí ha-dérekh, be-morád ha-hár,
ʕim kol mitʕán ha-ḥamorím ha-rav,
u-le-fétaʕ, be-ʕikúl ha-dérekh, keshe-hitínu lehabít,
nitkálnu bo.

Gam hu ḥipéis ‘otánu,
kemó ‘éven yekaráh, ‘amár, kemó margalít,
mamásh kemó ‘aveidáh.
Keshe-kákha, be-mikréh le-gámrei,
be-‘akrái gamúr, hayínu ba-ḥatzí ha-dérekh, ve-higáʕnu
‘el ha-‘áretz ha-yeʕudáh.
Kelomár, higáʕnu leilohím.
U-matzánu menuḥáh gemuráh min ha-ḥayím.
Hayáh zeh le-gámrei be-mikréh, deháynu,
ba-ḥatzí ha-dérekh, keshe-yarádnu min ha-hár,
ha-ḥamorím ve-ha-sakím ʕamdú levád,
shemutím u-khefuféi bérekh, ba-ʕikúl ha-tzár.
Ha-ḥom hayáh kavéid minsó.

Biktzéh ha-shvíl nitkálnu bo. Holéikh u-vá. Mamásh ba-‘émtzaʕ hu ʕamád.
Holéikh u-vá. Le-‘éin shiʕúr gavó’ah, dak kemó saʕaráh, be-kéren ha-zavít,
biktzéh ha-shvíl, nitkálnu bo, be-ḥipusáv ha-no’ashím,
‘aḥár ha-‘éven ha-yekaráh, ‘aḥár ha-margalít.

‘Anáḥnu mi-tzidéinu kevár hayínu ba-ḥatzí ha-dérekh ve-hitínu laḥazór.
‘Ulái ra’ínu bor. ‘Ulai ra’ínu bor shel máyim,
ve-hitínu ‘et ʕatzméinu min ha-shvíl le-régaʕ kat.

‘Avál ha-ḥom hayáh kavéid minsó, ve-ha-ʕolám baʕár kemó kivshán.
Ve-‘áz, kemó nifteḥú kol ha-shamáyim lefanéinu bimshikhát rokhsán.
Ve-zánu ‘et ʕeinéinu ha-serufót

be-máh she-ló ra’áh ‘enósh u-vén temutáh mei-‘áz
bará ha-‘elohím ‘adám lishlót
ʕal penéi ha-‘adamáh ha-yeveisháh ha-zot.

Oct 052012
 
ס’איז שװער צו זײַן אַ פרומער פאָעט.י

Admiel Kosman (1957 – )
Deserter

You’re a deserter.
Don’t try to obscure it.
You dig and scatter behind you along your escape route
heaps of words to cover
your tracks.

You’ve remained, as always, the virtuoso
of words. Words, those same words
that smuggle you away from us on their backs to unreckoned
distances. That steal away with you, with growing panic, over the border
like a fleeing camel train.

You’re a deserter.
We’ll rip the painted mask of hypocrisy
off your face, we’ll hang you in the light of day,
we’ll expose your shame in public.

You bury your head in the hot sand,
and warble to us, innocent as a child,
the ostrich’s excuses.

You’re a deserter.
Deserter.
You know well that the truth,
the truth is with us. But the hardships
of the twisting road, the searing sun, the sands, the desert
that stretches on like endless waters,
the swollen feet, the snakes,
they all serve to show you, like a Greek chorus pointing out to you, all
as one,
the fata morgana of the Land of the Plain.*

אדמיאל קוסמן
עריק

 
אַתָּה עָרִיק.
אַל תְּנַסֶּה לְטַשְׁטֵשׁ זֹאת.
אַתָּה חוֹפֵר וְזוֹרֶה לְאָחוֹר בְּדֶרֶךְ מְנוּסָתְךָ
עֲרֵמוֹת שֶׁל מִלִּים לְכַסּוֹת
אֶת עִקְּבוֹתֶיךָ.
 
נִשְׁאַרתָּ, כְּתָמִיד, הַוִּירְטוּאוֹז
שֶל הַמִּלִּים. הַמִּלִּים, אוֹתָן הַמִּלִּים
הַמַּבְרִיחוֹת אוֹתְךָ עֲדַיִן עַל גַּבָּן מֵאִתָּנוּ לְמֶרְחַקִּים
לֹא-מִשֹׁעָרִים. גּוֹנְבוֹת אִתְּךָ בְּבֶהָלָה גּוֹבֶרֶת אֶת הַגְּבוּל
כְּמוֹ שַׁיֶּרֶת-גְּמַלִּים-נִמְלֶטֶת.
 
אַתָּה עָרִיק.
אֲנַחְנוּ נִקְרַע אֶת מַסֵּכַת הַצְּבִיעוּת
מֵעַל פָּנֶיךָ, אֲנַחְנוּ נוֹקִיעַ אוֹתְךָ לַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, נְגַלֶּה
אֶת קְלוֹנְךָ בָּרַבִּים.
 
אַתָּה טוֹמֵן אֶת רֹאשְׁךָ בַּחוֹל הַחַם,
וּמְזַמֵּר לָנּו, תָּמִים כְּיֶלֶד,
אֶת תֵּרוּצֵי הַיְעֵנִים.
 
אַתָּה עָרִיק.
עָרִיק.
אַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ זֹאת הֵיטֵב, שֶׁהָאֱמֶת,
הָאֱמֶת עִמָּנוּ. אַךְ קְשָׁיֵי-
הַדֶּרֶךְ הַנִּפְתֶּלֶת, הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ הַצּוֹרֶבֶת, הַחוֹלוֹת, הַמִּדְבָּר
הַנִּמְשָׁךְ כְּמַיִם-לְלֹא-סוֹף,
הָרַגְלַיִם הַבְּצֵקוֹת, הַנְּחָשִׁים,
כֻּלָּם מוֹרִים לְךָ, כּמְוֹ מַקְהֵלַת-זֶמֶר-יְוָנִית הַמַּצְבִּיעָה, כֻּלָּהּ
כְּאַחַת,
עַל הַפָטָה-מוֹרְגָנָה שֶׁל אֶרֶץ הַכִּכָּר.
י

* See Gen. 19:28.

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Atah ʕarík.
‘Al tenaséh letashtésh zot.
‘Atah ḥoféir ve-zoréh le-aḥór be-dérekh menusatkhá
ʕareimót shel milím lekhasót
‘Et ʕikvotékha.

Nish’árta, ke-tamíd, ha-virtu’óz
Shel ha-milím, ‘otán ha-milím
Ha-mavriḥót ‘otkhá ʕadáyin ʕal gabán me’itánu le-merḥakím
lo-mishoʕarím. Gonvót ‘itkhá be-vehaláh govéret ‘et ha-gevúl
Kemó shayéret-gemalím-nimlétet.

‘Atáh ʕarík.
‘Anáḥnu nikráʕ ‘et maseikhát ha-tzeviʕút
Mei-ʕál panékha, ‘anáḥnu nokíʕa ‘otkhá la-shémesh, negaléh
‘et kelonkhá ba-rabím.

‘Atáh toméin ‘et roshkhá ba-ḥól va-ḥam,
U-mezaméir lánu, tamím ke-yéled,
‘Et teirutzéi ha-yeʕeiním.

‘Atah ʕarík.
ʕarík.
‘Atáh yodéiʔa zot heitéiv, she-ha-’emét,
Ha-’emét ʔimánu. ‘Akh keshayéi
Ha-dérekh ha-niftélet, ha-shémesh ha-tzorévet, ha-ḥolót, ha-midbár
Ha-nimshákh ke-máyim-leló-sof,
Ha-ragláyim ha-betzeikót, ha-neḥashím,
Kulám morím lekhá, kemó maqheilát-zémer-yevanít ha-matzbiʕáh, kuláh
ke-‘aḥát,
ʕal ha-fátah morgánah shel ‘éretz ha-kikár.

Sep 282012
 

Admiel Kosman (1957 – )
A Moment

They evoke me now, my wife,
in a single breath, along with day
and night. I’m evoked along
with the sun, the moon, the host of stars.
They evoke me now in a single breath
with the soft air that turns the cosmos.

אדמיאל קוסמן
רגע אחד

 
מַזְכִּירִים אוֹתִי כָּעֵת, אִשְׁתִּי,
בִּנְשִימָה אַחַת, בְּיַחַד עִם הַיּוֹם
וְעִם הַלַיְלָה. אֲנִי נִזְכָּר בְּיַחַד
עִם הַשֶׁמֶשׁ, הַיָּרֵחַ, צְבָא הַכּוֹכָבִים.
מַזְכִּירִים אוֹתִי כָּעֵת בִּנְשִימָה אַחַת
עִם הָאֲוִיר הָרַךְ הַמְסַבֵּב אֶת הַיְקוּם.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Mazkirím ‘otí ka-ʕéit, ‘ishtí,
Binshimáh ‘aḥát, be-yáḥad ʕim ha-yóm
Ve-ʕím ha-láilah. ‘Aní nizkár be-yáḥad
ʕim ha-shémesh, ha-yaréiaḥ, tzevá ha-kokhavím.
Mazkirím ‘otí ka-ʕéit binshimáh ‘aḥát
ʕim ha-‘avír ha-rákh ha-mesavéiv ‘et ha-yekúm.