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.

Dec 102013
 

Have I mentioned that you’re going to die?

David Vogel (1891 – 1944)
Far Away from Us Is the Ship

Far away from us is the ship,
the water will blacken to night —
but ours is to row and to row.

Two old-timers said in their heart:
at a summer day’s height
the grandchildren play
gleeful as cubs of a lion —
but ours is to know rest is better
than the torment of years.

For heaven will blue unto morning —
let the children keep sleeping,
until the black ship passes by.

דוד פוגל
רחוקה ממנו הספינה


רְחוֹקָה מִמֶּנוּ הַסְּפִינָה,
הַמַּיִם יַשְׁחִירוּ לַלַּיְלָה —
אַךְ לָנוּ חֲתֹר וַחֲתֹר.

שְׁנַיִם יְשִׁישִׁים אָמְרוּ בְלִבָּם:
בְּעֶצֶם יוֹם קַיִץ
יְשַׂחֲקוּ הַנְּכָדִים
כְּגורֵי אֲרָיוֹת צוֹהֲלִים —
אַךְ לָנוּ טוֹבָה הַמְּנוּחָה
מִסֵּבֶל הַשָּׁנִים.

כִּי יַכְחִיל הַשַּׁחַק לַבֹּקֶר —
תְּנוּ לִילָדִים עוֹד תְּנוּמָה,
עַד תַּעֲבֹר הַסְּפִינָה הַשְּׁחוֹרָה.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Reḥoqáh miménu ha-sefináh,
ha-máyim yashḥíru la-láilah —
‘akh lánu ḥatór va-ḥatór.

Shenáyim yeshishím ‘amrú ve-libám:
be-ʕétzem yom qáyitz
yesaḥaqú ha-nekhadím
ke-guréi ‘arayót tzohalím —
‘akh lánu továh ha-menuḥáh
mi-séivel ha-shaním.

Ki yakhḥíl ha-sháḥaq la-bóker —
Tenú liladím ʕod tenumáh,
ʕad taʕavór ha-sefináh ha-sheḥoráh.

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.
Sep 282013
 

The return of one of Soul and Gone’s favorite poets. Draw your own conclusions about Soul and Gone’s relations to melancholy, sensitive, completely nocturnal outsider poets utterly unable to function within normal society.

David Vogel (1891 – 1944)
Here You Sit Beside Me

Here you sit beside me,
Our shadows have outgrown us.

The lamp goes out,
The joy already came, already went.

Our heart will grieve,
We’ll sit here melancholy,
Like children greatly punished.

Here you sit beside me,
Our shadows have outgrown us.

דוד פוגל
הנך יושבה על ידי


הִנָּךְ יוֹשְׁבָה עַל יָדִי,
צְלָלֵינוּ גָדְלוּ מֶנּוּ.

הַנֵּר כָּבֶה,
הָאשֶׁר כְּבָר בָּא וּכְבָר הָלָךְ.

לִבֵּנוּ יִדְאַב,
נוּגִים נֵשֵׁבָה,
כִּילָדִים עֲנָשָׁם הָרַב.

הִנָּךְ יוֹשְׁבָה עַל יָדִי,
צְלָלֵינוּ גָדְלוּ מֶנּוּ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Hinákh yoshváh ʕal yadí,
Tzelaléinu gadlú ménu.

Ha-néir kavéh,
Ha-‘ósher kevár ba ukh-vár halákh.

Libéinu yid’áv,
Nugím neishéivah,
Kiladím ʕanashám ha-ráv.

Hinákh yoshváh ʕal yadí,
Tzelaléinu gadlú ménu.

May 102013
 

Has it really been almost a month since our last Vogel? Impossible. Neruda, you silver-tongued devil.

David Vogel (1891 – 1944)
Tell Me, Girl

Tell me, girl,
why don’t you go out with your friends
towards the hill,
to watch the setting sun in silence?

True, the day’s already ebbed
trembling restrained recoils from the world.

Slow despair sinks rosy-hued inside each heart.

Why sit so dim
upon the window
your eye treading down the bridge?

דוד פוגל
אמרי לי, עלמה


אִמְרִי לִי, עַלְמָה,
לָמָּה לֹא תֵצְאִי עִם רַעֲיוֹתַיִךְ
אֶל הַגִּבְעָה,
לִרְאוֹת דּוּמָם בַּהֲלוֹךְ הַשָּׁמֶשׁ?

הֵן כְּבָר רַד הַיּוֹם
רְעָדָה נֶעֱצֶרֶת סוֹלְדָה בַתֵּבֵל.

יָגוֹן וָרֹד אַט יִשְׁקַע בַּלְּבָבוֹת.

לָמָּה תֵשְׁבִי כֵהָה
עַל הַחַלּוֹן
וְעֵינֵךְ תָּרָד אֶת הַגָּשֶׁר?
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Imrí li, ʕalmáh,
lámah lo teitz’í ʕim raʕayotáyikh
‘el ha givʕáh,
lir’ót dumám ba-halókh ha-shámesh?

Hein kevár rad ha-yóm
Reʕadáh neʕetzéret soldáh va-teivéil.

Yagón varód ‘at yishkáʕ ba-levavót.

Lámah teishví kheiháh
ʕal ha-ḥalón
ve-ʕeinéikh tarád ‘et ha-gásher?

Apr 162013
 

If I got a full, decent night’s sleep, who on earth would translate David Vogel poetry on the Internet? You need me! You all need me!

David Vogel really is fantastic, though. Let’s just all quietly make a gentleman’s agreement not to psychoanalyze why I think so.

David Vogel (1891 – 1944)
Among Yearnings of Nighttime

Among yearnings of nighttime
silent and soft
I will come to you.

In the shadow of youth’s recollections
I’ll hide —
and you’ll never see me.

Perhaps in your sleep
I’ll be entwined in your dream, pure-white and virginal.

In the guise of a fly, wings asparkle
I will stand still and quiet
on the swell of your pale, dreaming breast.

Still and quiet I’ll stand. —

דוד פוגל
בין געגועי הלילה


בֵּין גַּעְגּוּעֵי הַלַּיְלָה
הַחֲרִישִׁים, הָרַכִּים,
אָבֹא אֵלָיִךְ.

בְּצֵל זִכְרוֹן נְעוּרִים
אֵחָבֵא —
וְאַתְּ לֹא תִרְאִינִי.

אוּלָם בְּנוּמֵךְ
אֶתְרַקֵּם בַּחֲלוֹמֵךְ הַבְּתוּלִי, הַצָּחוֹר.

בִּדְמוּת זְבוּב־רִקְמָה
אֶעֱמֹד לִי דוּמָם
עַל גִּבְעַת שָׁדֵךְ הַחִוֵּר, הַחוֹלֵם.

דּוּמָם אֶעֱמֹדָה. —
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Bein gaʕguʕéi ha-láilah
ha-ḥarishím, ha-rakím,
‘avó ‘eiláyikh.

Be-tzéil zikhrón neʕurím
‘eiḥavéi —
ve-‘át lo tir’íni.

‘Ulám be-numéikh
‘etrakem ba-ḥaloméikh ha-betulím ha-tzaḥór.

Bidmút zevúv-rikmáh
‘eʕemód li dumám
ʕal givʕat shadéikh ha-ḥivéir, ha-ḥoléim.

Dumám ‘eʕemódah.