May 292014
 

Ephraim Luzzatto (1729 – 1792)
Chana, Graceful Doe

Chana, graceful doe, O how you carry
Triumph o’er ev’ry girl with your looks’ splendor
For sweeter than fine wine’s the love you tender
Which draws forth hearts intent on making merry.

Draw not your beauty’s bow, I pray you spare me,
Against the arrows of your eyes I’m no contender.
Bring a scarf to hide your face, for I surrender;
Of that red wrath I’m weary and I’m wary.

O glory, grace and beauty all completed,
Your place among the cherished chosen earning,
For with all these my heart you have defeated.

Bright sparks fly forth from where your neck curves turning,
The form of loveliness, no blemish meted;
The glare of flame and fire within is burning.

אפרים לוצאטו
חנה איילת חן

 
חַנָּה אַיֶלֶת חֵן אַתְּ כִּי תִתְמֹכִי
כָּבוֹד עַל הַבָּנוֹת בִּצְבִי מַרְאַיִךְ
אַתְּ כִּי מִיֵּין הַטּוֹב טוֹבוּ דוֹדַיִךְ
וּלְהִתְעַנֵּג בָּהֶם כָּל לֵב תִּמְשֹׁכִי.
 
אֶת קֶשֶׁת יִפְעַתֵךְ אַל נָא תִדְרֹכִי
אַל יִמְחַצוּנִי נָא חִצֵּי עֵינַיִךְ
הָבִיאִי הַצָּעִיף כַּסִי פָנַיִךְ
מִן הָאָדֹם הַזֶּה עָיֵף אָנֹכִי.
 
הַהוֹד עִם הֶהַדַר הַחֵן וָיֹפִי
כִּי לִבְחִירֵי חֶמְדָּה עֶדְנָה תִהְיֶינָה
בָּהֵנָּה אַתְּ אֶת לִבָּתִּי תִגֹּפִי.
 
מֵחֶלְקַת צַוָּארֵךְ זִיקוֹת תֵּצֶאנָה
וָצֶלֶם הַנָּאוָה זַכָּה מִדֹּפִי
נֹגַהּ אֵשׁ לֶהָבָה תּוּקַד מִמֶּנָּה.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ḥanáh ‘ayélet ḥein ‘at ki titmókhi
Kavód ʕal ha-banót bitzví mar’áyikh
‘At ki mi-yéin ha-tóv tovú dodáyikh
U-lehitʕanéig bahém kol leiv timshókhi.

‘Et qeset yifʕatéikh ‘al na tidrókhi
‘Al yimḥatzúni na ḥitzéi ʕeináyikh
Haví’i ha-tzaʕíf kasí fanáyikh
Min ha-‘adóm ha-zéh ʕayéif ‘anókhi.

Ha-hód ʕim he-hadár ha-ḥéin va-yófi
Ki livḥiréi ḥemdáh ʕednáh tihyénah
Ba-héinah ‘at ‘et libatí tigófi.

Mei-ḥelqát tzavaréikh ziqót teitzénah
Va-tzélem ha-naváh zakáh mi-dófi
Nógah ‘eish lehaváh tuqád miménah.

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?

Feb 192013
 

Unlike Ephraim, I don’t even know rich people I can rage at (although, if I know my Italian Jewish history, Ephraim Luzzatto was not exactly the salt of the earth). But anyway, my sonnets must be directed at the poor. Either way, I suppose, we’re all gonna die.

Ephraim Luzzatto (1729 – 1792)
For All the Prideful

Villain, abuser, high-headed, conceited,
Burdened with pride you lift up every weighed tread,
Humble yourself! And with trembling and grave dread
Keep this in mind: for the slaughter you’re destined.

Heed well God’s voice; for misfortune incessant
Men like yourself have been chosen and fated,
Then your own soul will be stooped and prostrated,
Suddenly struck with blood, pain most malignant.

Turn back to Him, with new ways he’ll instill you,
Chase after right!1 — for what else d’you engage in?
Hoarding mere wealth, or renown to fulfill you?

Would that you might strongly dwell for the ages,
There in your home on the city’s high hill, true —
You’ll sleep in dust, the day coming presages.

אפרים לוצאטו
על כל גאה ורם

 
זֵד, מִסְתּוֹלֵל, יָהִיר וּגְבַה הַמֶּצַח
כִּי בִכְבֵדוּת גָּאוֹן תָּרִים הַצַּעַד,
הָהּ הִכָּנַע! וּבְחַלְחָלָה וָרַעַד
זָכוֹר, כִּי גַם אַתָּה מוּעָד לָרֶצַח.
 
קוֹל מִמָּרוֹם הַסְכֵּת, כִּי אֵיד לָנֶצַח
אֶל גֶבֶר כִּדְמוּתָךְ גָּזַר וַיָּעַד,
וִיחִידָתָךְ אָז תִּשְׁתּוֹחַח מִבַּעַד,
מֻכָּה פִתְאֹם בִּכְאֵב אָנוּשׁ וָנֶצַח.
 
שׁוּב שׁוּב, וּתְהִי אִתָּךְ רוּחַ אַחֶרֶת,
צֶדֶק צֶדֶק תִּרְדוֹף, כִּי מַה הִסְכַּנְתָּ
אִם הוֹן אָצַרְתָּ לָךְ, אוֹ שֵׁם תִּפְאֶרֶת?
 
לוּ שָׁנִים אֶלֶף בִּגְבוּרָה שָׁכַנְתָּ
עַל מוֹשָׁבָךְ אֵיתָן בִּמְרוֹמֵי קֶרֶת,
הִנֵּה יוֹם בָּא, כִי בֶעָפָר יָשַׁנְתָּ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Zeid, mistoléil, yahír ugváh ha-métzaḥ
Ki vikhveidút ga’ón tarím ha-tzáʕad,
Hah hikanáʕ! U-ve-ḥalhaláh va-ráʕad
Zakhór, ki gam ‘atáh muʕád la-rétzáḥ.

Kol mi-maróm haskéit, ki ‘eid la-nétzaḥ
‘El géver kidmutákh gazár va-yáʕad,
Viḥidatákh ‘az tishtoḥáḥ mi-báʕad,
Mukáh pit’óm bikh’éiv ‘anúsh va-nétzaḥ.

Shuv shuv, u-tehí ‘itákh ruáḥ ‘aḥéret,
Tzédek tzédek tirdóf, ki mah hiskánta
‘Im hon ‘atzárta lakh, ‘o sheim tif’éret?

Lu shaním ‘élef bigvuráh shakhánta
ʕal moshavákh ‘eitán bimroméi kéret,
Hinéih yom ba, khi ve-ʕavár yashánta.

  1. Deuteronomy 16:20.
Jan 082013
 

The thrilling conclusion. Are you psyched? I’m cranked, brah. Cycles of Italian Hebrew love poetry. Dude. Yes.

The last five are here, here, here, here, and here.

Now wasn’t that fun?

Ephraim Luzzatto (1729 – 1792)
My Love’s Name

My love’s name I’ll write on trees in the forest,
On ice in the cold, on blossoms in summer;
Indeed, without her form, the light of the sun:
The night will be day and I’ll call the day night,
And without that visage like scarlet and snow
I’ll blanch or I’ll blush while I’m yet in this world.

אפרים לוצאטו
שם יפתי

 
שֵׁם יָפָתִי אֶכְתֹּב עַל עֵץ בַּיַּעַר,
עַל קֶרַח בַּקָּרָה, עַל צִיץ בַּקַּיִץ;
אָכֵן בִּבְלִי צַלְמָהּ, בִּבְלִי אוֹר שֶׁמֶשׁ:
בַּלַּיְלָה יוֹם, בַּיּוֹם אֶקְרָא הַלַּיְלָה,
וּבְלִי מַרְאֶה הַהוּא תוֹלָע וָשֶׁלֶג,
אַלְבִּין, אוֹ אֶתְאַדַּם, עוֹדִי בָאָרֶץ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Sheim yafatí ‘ekhtóv ʕal ʕeitz ba-yáʕar,
ʕal kéraḥ ba-karáh, ʕal tzitz ba-káyitz;
Akhéin bivlí tzalmáh, bivlí ‘or shémesh:
Ba-láilah yom, ba-yóm ‘ekrá ha-láilah,
Uvlí mar’éh ha-hú toláʕ va-shéleg,
‘Albín, ‘o ‘et’adám, ʕodí va-‘áretz.

Jan 042013
 

And once again, our saga continues. Things are getting weird here in the fifth poem. The law of the world is inverted, all right.

(The last four are here, here, here and here, although it’s probably just easier to click the dude’s name in the Poets column.)

Ephraim Luzzatto (1729 – 1792)
There’ll Be Warmth in Winter

There’ll be warmth in winter or cold in summer,
If I should keep silent by day or by night;
The fish would then run on the face of the world,
The lizard would rise up and fly to the sun;
Fire would make peace with and cleave unto snow,
Lions dwell in towns, and men in the forest.

אפרים לוצאטו
בחורף חום

 
בַּחֹרֶף חוֹם יִהְיֶה אוֹ קֹר בַּקַּיִץ,
אִם אָנֹכִי אֶשְׁקֹט, אוֹ יוֹם, אוֹ לַיְלָה;
יָרוּצוּ הַדָּגִים עַל כָּל הָאָרֶץ,
הַחֹמֶט יִתְנַשָּׂא, יָעוּף לַשֶּׁמֶשׁ;
הָאֵשׁ בִּבְרִית שָׁלוֹם יִדְבַּק לַשֶּׁלֶג,
אַרְיֵה יָגּוּר בָּעִיר, הָאִישׁ בַּיַּעַר.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ba-ḥóref ḥom yihyéh ‘o kor ba-káyitz,
‘Im ‘anokhí ‘eshkót, ‘o yom, ‘o láilah;
Yarútzu ha-dagím ʕal kol ha-‘áretz,
Ha-ḥómet yitnaséi, yaʕúf la-shémesh;
Ha-‘éish bivrít shalóm yidbák la-shéleg,
‘Aryéh yagúr ba-ʕír, ha-‘ísh ba-yáʕar.

Dec 302012
 

The saga continues. The fourth poem in the cycle. The last three are here, here and here.

Ephraim Luzzatto (1729 – 1792)
How Long Must I Wait

How long must I wait for the coming of night,
For my soul to be cheered by cold flakes of snow?
My strength’s as dry as a tree in the forest,
My bones have been beaten by heat waves and sun;
Yet just as a nomad I’ll wander the world,
Yearning in vain for the first fruits of summer.

אפרים לוצאטו
מתי יבוא

 
מָתַי יָבֹא, מָתַי יָבֹא הַלַּיְלָה,
וִישַׁעַשְׁעוּ נַפְשִׁי אֶגְלֵי הַשֶּׁלֶג?
הִנֵּה כֹחִי יָבֵשׁ כָּעֵץ בַּיַּעַר,
וַיַּךְ אֶת עַצְמוֹתַי שָׁרָב וָשֶׁמֶשׁ;
רַק נָע וָנָד הֵן אֶתְהַלֵּךְ בָּאָרֶץ,
לָרִיק יוֹם יוֹם שׁוֹאֵף בִּכּוּרֵי קַיִץ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Matái yavó, matái yavó ha-láilah,
Vishaʕasheʕú nafshí ‘egléi shéleg?
Híneih khoḥí yavéish ka-ʕéitz ba-yáʕar,
Va-yákh ‘et ʕatzmotái sharáv va-shémesh;
Rak naʕ va-nád hein ‘ethaléikh ba-‘áretz,
La-rík yom yom sho’éif bikuréi káyitz.

Dec 272012
 

This is the third poem of a six poem cycle in which each poems’ lines end with one of the same six words (world, forest, snow, summer, night and sun), with each following poem using the last word of the previous poem in its opening line. The first two are here and here.

Ephraim Luzzatto (1729 – 1792)
I Was Like Beeswax

I was like beeswax, or like butter, or snow,
Which all melt away in the heat of the sun,
I waited for spring, instead came the summer,
For I had inverted the law of the world;
I seemed a blaze at the edge of the forest,
Whose fires grew stronger from night unto night.

אפרים לוצאטו
הייתי כדונג

 
הָיִיתִי כַדּוֹנַג, חֶמְאָה, אוֹ שֶׁלֶג,
כִּי יִמַּסּוּ הִמֵּס מִחוּם הַשֶּׁמֶש,
חִכִּיתִי הָאָבִיב, וַיָבוֹא קַיִץ,
כִּי בִגְלָלִי הוּמַר מִשְׁפַּט הָאָרֶץ;
דָּמִיתִי אֵשׁ לוֹהֵט בִּקְצֵה הַיַּעַר,
וַיִרֶב הַמּוֹקֵד לַיְלָה מִלַּיְלָה.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Hayíti kha-donág, ḥem’áh, ‘o shéleg,
Ki yimasú himéis mi-ḥúm ha-shémesh,
Ḥikíti ha-‘avív, ve-yavó káyitz,
Ki viglalí humár mishpát ha-‘áretz;
Damíti ‘eish lohéit bi-ketzéh ha-yáʕar,
Va-yirév ha-mokéid láilah mi-láilah.

Dec 242012
 

This is the second poem of a six poem cycle in which each poems’ lines end with one of the same six words (world, forest, snow, summer, night and sun). I posted the first one yesterday or the day before or something. I become nocturnal whenever I have any time off and it’s the middle of winter, so my sense of time has become completely unmoored. Like Ephraim Luzzatto, I too flee the bright sun.

Ephraim Luzzatto (1729 – 1792)
I Drew So Far in Flight

I drew so far in flight from this, my bright sun
My steps were appraised by the wilds of the world;
Here and there I wandered by day and by night,
On mountains, in valleys, in field, in forest,
The winter, the springtime, harvest and summer,
Through streams and through torrents, through hail and through snow.

אפרים לוצאטו
רחקתי במנוסה

 
רָחַקְתִּי בִמְנוּסָה מִזֶּה הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ
וָאָמָד בִּצְעָדַי מֶרְחַב הָאָרֶץ;
תָּעִיתִי כֹה וָכֹה יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה,
בָּהָר, אוֹ בַבִּקְעָה, שָׂדֶה, אוֹ יַעַר,
הַחֹרֶף, הָאָבִיב, קָצִיר, וָקַיִץ,
אֶל זֶרֶם, אֶל מָטָר, בָּרָד, וָשֶׁלֶג.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Raḥákti vi-menusáh mi-zéh ha-shémesh
Ve-‘amád bi-tzeʕadái merḥáv ha-‘áretz;
Taʕíti khoh va-khóh yomám ve-láilah,
Ba-hár, ‘o va-bikʕáh, sadéh, ‘o yáʕar,
Ha-ḥóref, ha-‘avív, katzír, va-káyitz,
‘El zérem, ‘el matár, barád va-shéleg.

Dec 222012
 

This one has a pleasing rhythm, but doesn’t really rhyme. A translator’s dream. This is the first poem of a six poem cycle in which each poem’s lines end with one of the same six words (world, forest, snow, summer, night and sun). In Hebrew, all these words happen to have a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one, but sadly, that only works for “forest” and “summer” in English.

Ephraim Luzzatto (1729 – 1792)
Fair Is My Love

Fair is my love amongst the girls of the world,
Yet more foreign than the beasts of the forest,
And yet harder than flint, and colder than snow,
She sparked in my heart the dryness of summer;1
There’s darkness before me, and thick clouds, and night,
Yet before me she’ll sit as bright as the sun.

אפרים לוצאטו
זאת רעיתי נאוה

 
זֹאת רַעְיָתִי נָאוָה בִבְנוֹת הָאָרֶץ,
זָרָה גַם נָכְרִיָּה מִחַיְתוֹ יָעַר,
מֵחַלָּמִישׁ קָשָׁה, קָרָה מִשֶּׁלֶג,
הִבְעִירָה בִלְבָבִי חַרְבוֹנֵי קַיִץ;
יֵשׁ חֹשֶׁךְ עִמָּדִי, עָנָן, וָלַיְלָה,
עוֹד מִמֻּלִי תֵשֵׁב בָּרָה כַשֶּׁמֶשׁ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Zot raʕyatí na’váh vi-venót ha-‘áretz,
Zaráh gam nokhriyáh mi-ḥayetó yáʕar,
Mei-ḥalamísh kasháh, karáh mi-shéleg,
Hivʕírah vi-levaví ḥaronéi káyitz;
Yeish ḥóshekh ʕimadí, ʕanán, ve-láilah,
ʕod mi-mulí teishéiv baráh kha-shémesh.

  1. Psalm 32:4
Dec 202012
 

A Jewish sonnet to…Cupid? Kefiroh! Avoydos elilim! And the poet’s brother was such a tzaddik too! May our doyr never see such reshoyim and their melitzoys among the oholei Toyreh, rachmono litzlan.

Ephraim Luzzatto (1729 – 1792)
For Fierce as Death Is Love

O brothers! O lads! If you would survey
The lovely blind boy there before you opposed,
Uncover your eyes and look well, I pray,
For he’s hiding arrows in the folds of his clothes.

How soft are his lips, fairly dripping are they;
All pleasure and joy and delight from them flows.
Yet his thoughts are perverse; they encompass, I say
All treason, all evil, all guiles, all woes!

For I too have long since been drawn to him,
And he who had mocked me a year and half
Graciously granted me my lustful whim.

But just as before, he then drew with a start
His most dreadful bow, shooting me with a laugh,
And see how the wound has spread out in my heart!

אפרים לוצאטו
כי עזה כמוות אהבה

 
אַחַי הַבַּחוּרִים, אִם נָא תַשְׁקִיפוּ
הַיֶּלֶד הָעִוֵּר נָאוֶה מִנֶּגֶד,
גַּלּוּ אֶת עֵינֵיכֶם וּרְאֹה הוֹסִיפוּ,
כִּי הוּא מַסְתִּיר חִצִּים תַּחַת הַבֶּגֶד.
 
הֵא שִׂפְתוֹתָיו רַכּוּ, הַטֵּף יַטִּיפוּ
כָּל-עֹנֶג, כָּל-שָׂשׂוֹן, כָּל-טוּב, כָּל-מֶגֶד.
רַק שַׁרְעַפָּיו זָרִים, הַקֵּף יַקִּיפוּ
כָּל-אָוֶן, כָּל-מִרְמָה, כָּל-רִיב, כָּל-בֶּגֶד.
 
גַּם אָנֹכִי מֵאָז אֵלָיו נִקְרֵאתִי,
אַף הוּא כִמְצַחֵק בִּי שָׁנָה וָחֵצִי,
חָנַנִי בִנְדָבָה מַה הִתְאַוֵּיתִי.
 
אוּלָם כִּתְמוֹל שִׁלְשׁוֹם דָּרַךְ עַד רֶגַע
קַשְׁתּוֹ הַנּוֹרָאָה וַיּוֹר בִּי חֵצִי,
וּרְאוּ כִי בִלְבָבִי פָשָׂה הַנֶּגַע.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Aḥái ha-baḥurím, ‘im na tashkífu
Ha-yéled ha-ʕivéir navéh mi-néged,
Galú ‘et ʕeineikhém u-re’óh hosífu,
Ki hu mastír ḥitzím táḥat ha-béged.

Hei siftotáv rakú, hatéif yatífu
Kol ʕóneg, kol sasón, kol tuv, kol méged.
Rak sharʕapáv zarím, hakéif yakífu
Kol ‘áven, kol mirmáh, kol riv, kol béged.

Gam ‘anokhí mei’áz ‘eiláv nikréiti,
‘Af hu khi-metzaḥéik bi shanáh va-ḥéitzi,
Ḥanáni vi-nedaváh mah hitavéiti.

‘Ulám ki-temól shilshóm darákh ʕad régaʕ
Kashtó ha-nora’áh va-yór bi ḥeitzí,
U-re’ú khi vi-levaví fasáh ha-négaʕ.