Feb 052015
 

Shlomo ibn Gabirol (1021? – 1058?)
Black of Hair

Black of hair yet he’s ruddy and bronzed
  Though desired, his bearing’s all pride
As if lust he disdains and forbears
  Neither hoped for nor paid any mind
Have you e’er seen a man hate his loves
  When for rivals he yearns and he pines?
My beloved’s sweet words have more worth
  Than clear emeralds or silver’s bright shine
In dark night may you gaze at his cheek
  And envision the flick’ring of fire.

שלמה אבן גבירול / سليمان ابن جبيرول
שער שחור

 
שְׂעַר שָׁחֹר וְהוּא אָדֹם וּמֻצְהָב / וְחֵשֶׁק לַנְּפָשׁוֹת בּוֹ וְרָהַב
אֲשֶׁר כָּל-חֹֽשְׁקוֹ שָׂנֵא וּבִלַּע / וְלֹא נָתַן רְצוֹן נַפְשׁוֹ וְיָהָב
הֲרָאִיתָ אֱנוֹשׁ יִשְׂנָא אֲהוּבָיו / וְאֶת-מִתְקוֹמֲמָיו חָשַׁק וְאָהַב
יְדִידִי טוֹב דְּבַר-פִּיו מִבְּדֹלַח / וּמִשֹּׁהַם וּמִכֶּסֶף וְזָהָב
בְּחשֶׁךְ לַֽיְלָה הַבֵּט לְלֶחְיוֹ / תְּדַמֶּנּוּ לְלַפִּיד אוֹ לְלָהַב.
י

Jan 202015
 
Berry Sakharof and Rea Mokhiach - Shfal Ruaḥ

Shlomo ibn Gabirol (1021? – 1058?)
Cowed in Spirit

Cowed in spirit, with bended knees and bowed back,
I come to you burdened with great fear and dread.
In your mighty presence, I seem to myself
As a miniscule worm that crawls in the dirt.
Does the fullness of earth, whose expanse knows no end,
Praise you like I do, and what are its means?
The angels on high can’t encompass your splendor —
And that being true, how much less then could I!
The font of my wisdom, my God, I’ll seek out,
Who garners the praise of the souls of all life.

שלמה אבן גבירול / سليمان ابن جبيرول
שפל רוח

 
שְׁפַל רוּחַ, שְׁפַל בֶּרֶךְ וְקוֹמָה,
אֲקַדֶּמְךָ בְּרֹב פַּחַד וְאֵימָה.
לְפָנֶיךָ אֲנִי נֶחְשָׁב בְּעֵינַי
כְּתוֹלַעַת קְטַנָּה בָאֲדָמָה.
מְלֹא עוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר אֵין קֵץ לְגָדְלוֹ,
הֲכָמֹנִי יְהַלֶּלְךָ, וּבַמֶּה?
הֲדָרְךָ לֹא יְכִילוּן מַלְאֲכֵי‑רוֹם ‑
וְעַל אַחַת אֲנִי כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה!
אֲשַׁחֵר אֵל בְּרֵאשִׁית רַעֲיוֹנַי
אֲשׁר לִשְׁמוֹ תְהַלֵּל כֹּל נְשָׁמָה.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Shefál rúaḥ, shefál bérekh ve-qomáh,
‘Aqadémkha be-róv páḥad ve-‘eimáh.
Lefanéikha ‘aní neḥsháv be-ʕeinái
Ke-toláʕat qetanáh ba-‘adamáh.
Meló ʕolám, ‘ashér ein qeitz le-godló,
Ha-khamóni yehalélkha, u-va-méh?
Hadarkhá lo yekhilún mal’akhéi rom —
Ve-ʕal aḥát, ‘aní kámah ve-khámah!
‘Ashaḥéi ‘eil bereishít raʕayonái
‘Ashér lishmó tehaléil kol neshamáh.

Apr 182014
 
Berry Sakharof and Rea Mokhiach - Be-Ḥayeikhem Adumei ha-Sefatot

Shlomo ibn Gabirol (1021? – 1058?)
By Your Lives, You Whose Lips Are Stained with Red

O, by your lives, you whose lips with red are stained,
  Who have drawn along my heart so firmly chained
Turn now to me and remember my fond love
  And like laws and faiths may it be well retained
And upon your hearts may all your oaths remain
  Our birthright from God who covenants ordained
And tell the lord and my tidings bear as well
  To the man, whose words are in his heart ingrained:
“Did you forget our oath the day you left,
  The tearing of the cushions on which we’d lain,
How after I returned a pauper and displaced,
  Like a man sent off to Anathoth disdained?
May God relent and grant us his kind grace,
  And unite us ere we fall to Death’s domain.”

שלמה אבן גבירול / سليمان ابن جبيرول
בחייכם אדומי השפתות

 
בְּחַיֵּיכֶם, אֲדֻמֵּי הַשְּׂפָתוֹת,
 אֲשֶׁר מָשְׁכוּ לְבָבִי בַּעֲבוֹתוֹת
פְּנוּ אֵלַי וְִזכְרוּ אַהֲבָתִי
 וְשִׁמְרוּהָ כְּמוֹ דִינִים וְדָתוֹת
וְשִׂימוּ עַל לְבַבְכֶם הַשְּׁבוּעוֹת
 בְּכָרְתֵנוּ פְּנֵי אֵל הַבְּרִיתוֹת
וְאִמְרוּ לַגְּבִיר וּשְׂאוּ שְׁלוֹמִי
 לְאִישׁ, נִיבָיו עֲלֵי לִבּוֹ חֲרוּתוֹת:
הֲשָׁכַחְתָּ בְּרִיתִי יוֹם פְּרִידוֹת
 וְלֹא תִזְכֹּר קְרִיעַת הַכְּסָתוֹת
בְּשׁוּבִי אַחֲרֶיךָ רָשׁ וְנִגְרָשׁ
 כְּאִישׁ נִגְרַשׁ וְשֻלַּח לַעֲנָתוֹת?
יְחָנֵּנוּ וְיִתְעַשֵּׁת אֱלֹהִים
 לְהִקָּבֵץ בְּטֶרֶם יוֹם תְּמוּתוֹת.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Be-ḥayeikhéim ‘aduméi ha-sefatót
‘Ashér mashkú levaví ba-ʕavatót
Penú ‘elái ve-zikhrú ‘ahavatí
Ve-shimrúha kemó diním ve-datót
Ve-símu ʕal levavkhém ha-shevuʕót
Bekhortéinu penéi ‘eil ha-beritót
Ve-‘imrú la-gevír u-se’ú shelomí
Le-‘ísh, niváv ʕaléi libo ḥarutót:
Ha-shakháḥta berití yom peridót
Ve-ló tizkór qeriʕát ha-kesatót
Be-shuví ‘aḥarékha rash ve-nigrásh
Ke-‘ísh nigrash ve-shuláḥ la-ʕanatót?
Yeḥanéinu ve-yitʕashéit ‘elohím
Lehiqabéitz be-térem yom temutót.

May 042013
 

Nature poem. Minimal commentary.

Shlomo ibn Gabirol (1021? – 1058?)
My Heart Had a Thought

My heart had a thought as the sun rose above;
Its works were like those of one wise as could be:
The moment the earth prayed it might lend its light
It took the Hyades as a guaranty.

שלמה אבן גבירול / سليمان ابن جبيرول
יחשוב לבבי


יַחְשֹׁב לְבָבִי בַּעֲלוֹת שֶׁמֶש
כִּי מַעֲשֵׂהוּ מַעֲשֵׂה נָבוֹן
עֵת הָאֲדָמָה שָאֲלָה אוֹרוֹ
יִקַּח בְּנֵי-עַיִשׁ לְעֵרָבוֹן.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Yaḥshóv levaví baʕalót shémesh
Ki maʕaséihu maʕaséih navón
ʕeit ha-‘adamáh sha’aláh ‘oró
Yikáḥ benéi-ʕáyish le-ʕeiravón.

Apr 242013
 

One of ibn Gabirol’s nature poems. This one is almost…haiku-like in its unusual brevity.

Shlomo ibn Gabirol (1021? – 1058?)
Do You Not See

Do you not see, my dearest friend,
The skies as beds of a garden?
The host of stars, as if lilies?
The crescent moon as a goblet?

שלמה אבן גבירול / سليمان ابن جبيرول
הלא תראה


הֲלֹא תִרְאֶה מְיֻדָּעִי
שְׁחָקִים כַּעֲרוּגַת גָּן
וְכוֹכָבִים כְּשׁוֹשַׁנִים
וְהַסַּהַר כְּמוֹ אַגָּן?
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ha-ló tir’éh meyudaʕí
Sheḥakím ka-ʕarugát gan
Ve-khokhavím ke-shoshaním
Ve-ha-sáhar kemó ‘agán?

Apr 172013
 

It’s a poem for a bee. Because why not.

Shlomo ibn Gabirol (1021? – 1058?)
Sing Your Song, My Lazy Bee

Sing your song, my lazy bee;
  You make it like “Shema’s” decree
You make distinct and long “Eḥad,”1
  You sprinkle for God’s memory
The honey he put ‘neath your tongue
  To ward off gall, your enemy.
If in your eyes, you seem minute —
  You’ve the worth of firstborn progeny.2
You’re no bug, you’re pure as birds —
  Your charms have lent you purity.

שלמה אבן גבירול / سليمان ابن جبيرول
לאטך דברי שירך


לְאִטֵּךְ דַּבְּרִי שִׁירֵךְ, דְּבוֹרָה,
 אֲשֶׁר קִרְיַת “שְׁמַע” מִפִּיךְ יְקֹרָא,
מְיַחֶדֶת וּמַאְרֶכֶת בְּ”אֶחָד”
 וּמַתֶּזֶת בְּזֵכֶר רָם וְנוֹרָא,
אֲשֶׁר נָתַן דְּבַשׁ תַּחַת לְשׁוֹנֵךְ
 וְשָׂם לָךְ לַהֲדֹף אוֹיְבֵךְ מְרֹרָה.
הֲלֹא אִם אַתְּ בְּעֵינַיִךְ קְטַנָּה –
 כְּבוּדָּה אַתְּ וְלָךְ מִשְׁפַּט בְּכוֹרָה.
חֲמוּדוֹת טִהֲרוּ אוֹתָךְ, וְאֵינֵךְ
 כְּשֶׁרֶץ עוֹף אֲבָל צִפּוֹר טְהוֹרָה.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Le’itéikh dabrí shiréikh, devoráh
‘Ashér kiryát shemáʕ mi-píkh yekorá,
Meyaḥédet u-ma’rékhet be-‘eḥád
U-matézet be-zéiker ram ve-norá,
‘Ashér natán devásh táḥat leshonéikh
Ve-sám lakh lahadóf ‘oyvéikh meroráh.
Ha-ló ‘im ‘at be-ʕeináyikh ketanáh —
Kevudáh ‘at ve-lákh mishpát bekhoráh.
Ḥamudót tiharú ‘otákh, ve-‘einéikh
Ke-shéretz ʕof ‘avál tzipór tehoráh.

  1. In the last word of the Shema, (“Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one”) one is required to lengthen the final sound of the final word, eḥad. This custom has fallen out of practice in many communities as the letter dalet has become a voiced alveolar stop in all positions, but originally, in this word-final position it would have been pronounced as a voiced dental fricative, as in the first sound of “this.” Evidently, ibn Gabirol still pronounced it this way (which makes sense) – the point is, the long “dhhhhhhhhhhhh” sound sounds like the buzzing of a bee.
  2. Deuteronomy 21:16
Mar 022013
 

Hey, it’s more piyut. And more Berry. I mean, you know how it is with me and poems drawing heavily on the Song of Songs. Like the Song itself, this poem is built as a dialogue between lovers; unlike the Song itself, this one actually is allegorical.1 The female speaker’s (i.e., Israel’s) lines are set in italics.

Standard Berry streaming music disclaimer: show Berry your love by purchasing and downloading Adumei Ha-Sefatot for a very reasonable 30 NIS/~$8.

Berry Sakharof and Rea Mokhiach - Shalom Lekha Dodi

Shlomo ibn Gabirol (1021? – 1058?)
Peace to You, My Love

O, peace to you, my love, so pure and ruddy!2
  O, peace to you from her with cheeks of pomegranate3
Towards your sister run, hasten you to save her
  And triumph like the son of Jesse o’er Ammon’s Rabbah4

Wherefore, lovely girl, do you try to waken Love5
  And make your voice ring out, cloaked in sounds of bells?
The moment Love desires6 I’ll draw near you with all speed
  And pour myself upon you like the dews of Mount Hermon.

שלמה אבן גבירול / سليمان ابن جبيرول
שלום לך דודי

 
שָׁלוֹם לְךָ דּוֹדִי הַצַּח וְהָאַדְמוֹן
 שָׁלוֹם לְךָ מֵאֵת רַקָּה כְמוֹ רִמּוֹן
לִקְרַאת אֲחוֹתַךְ רוּץ צֵא נָא לְהוֹשִׁיעָהּ
 וּצְלַח כְּבֶן יִשַּׁי רַבַּת בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן
מַה לָּךְ יְפֵהפִיָּה כִּי תְעוֹרְרִי אַהֲבָה
 וּתְצַלְצְלִי קוֹלֵךְ כִּמְעִיל בְּקוֹל פַּעֲמוֹן
הָעֵת אֲשֶׁר תַּחְפֹּץ אַהֲבָה אֲחִישֶׁנָּה
 עִתָּהּ וְעָלַיִךְ אֵרֵד כְּטַל חֶרְמוֹן.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Shalóm lekhá dodí ha-tzaḥ ve-ha-‘admón
Shalóm lekhá mei-‘éit rakáh khemó rimón
Likrát aḥotákh rutz, tzei na lehoshiʕáh
Utzláḥ ke-vén yishái rabát benéi ʕamón
Mah lakh yefeifiyáh ki teʕorerí ‘ahaváh
U-tetzaltzelí koléikh kimʕíl be-kól paʕamón
Ha-ʕéit ‘ashér taḥpótz ‘ahaváh ‘aḥishénah
ʕitáh ve-ʕaláyikh ‘eiréid ke-tál ḥermón.

  1. Oh snap.
  2. Song of Songs 5:10.
  3. Song of Songs 4:3.
  4. Ezekiel 21:25, Jeremiah 49:2.
  5. Song of Songs 2:7.
  6. Same as above.
Feb 172013
 

Someone told me recently – I think they were trying to “help” – that back in the day, nobody had time to be depressed (too busy being heilike yidden or dying of cholera or something). But then there’s ibn Gabirol. If it quacks like a duck, and it wallows incessantly in its own despair like a duck…

Shlomo ibn Gabirol (1021? – 1058?)
So Great Is My Pain

So great is my pain, my wound mortally bleak,
My strength’s taken flight and the spirit is weak,
No refuge or haven exists for my soul,
No place that might offer the respite I seek.
For three things upon me were joined to destroy
My tormented soul and diminished physique:
The weight of my sins, and the host of my pains,
And solitude too – who could stand against three?
My God, are my bones made of copper or steel?
Or am I the serpent, or am I the sea?1
For troubles surround me at every stage,
As if they had all been bequeathed unto me,
And you only search out my own sins,2 as if
Not one other man might deserve your decree!
Behold all the toil of your servant, his strife,
His soul’s a trapped bird, Lord — if only you’d see:
Forever I’d be as a servant to you,
And never ’til death would I ask to be free.

שלמה אבן גבירול / سليمان ابن جبيرول
כאבי רב

 
כְּאֵבִי רַב וּמַכָּתִי אֲנוּשָׁה
וְכֹחִי סָר וְעַצְמוּתִי חֲלוּשָה,
וְאֵין מִבְרָח וְאֵין מָנוֹס לְנַפְשִׁי,
וְאֵין מָקוֹם תְּהִי לִי בוֹ נְפִישָׁה.
שְׁלֹשָה אֻסְּפוּ עָלַי לְכַלוֹת
שְׁאֵר גּוּפִי וְרוּחִי הָעֲנוּשָׁה:
גְּדֹל עָוֹן וְרֹב מַכְאוֹב וּפֵרוּד –
וּמִי יוּכַל עֲמֹד לִפְנֵי שְׁלֹשָה?
הֲיָם אָנִי וְאִם תַּנִין, אֱלֹהַי,
וְכִי בַרְזֵל עֲצָמַי אוֹ נְחוּשָׁה?
אֲשֶׁר כֹּל עֵת יְסֻבּוּנִי תְלָאוֹת,
כְּאִלוּ הֵם מְסוּרִים לִי יְרֻשָּׁה,
וְתִדְרשׁ לַעֲוֹנִי רַק, כְּאִלּוּ
לְךָ אֵין עַל בְּנֵי אָדָם דְּרִישָׁה!
רְאֵה נָא בַעֲמַל עַבְדָּךְ וְעָנְיוֹ
וְכִי נַפְשׁוֹ כְּמוֹ דָאָה יְקוּשָׁה –
וְאֶהְיֶה לָךְ לְעוֹלָמִים לְעֶבֶד
וְלֹא אֶשְׁאַל עֲדֵי נֶצַח חֲפִישָׁה.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ke’eiví rav u-makatí ‘anusháh
Ve-khoḥí sar ve-ʕatzmutí ḥalusháh,
Ve-‘éin mivraḥ ve-‘éin manós le-nafshí,
Ve-‘éin makóm tehí li vo nefisháh.
Shelosháh ‘usfú ʕalái lekhalót
She’éir gufí ve-ruḥí ha-ʕanusháh:
Gedól ʕavón ve-róv makh’óv u-feirúd —
U-mí yukhál ʕamód lifnéi shelosháh?
Ha-yám ‘aní ve-‘ím tanín, ‘elohái,
Ve-khí varzél ʕatzamái ‘o neḥusháh?
‘Ashér kol ʕeit yesubúni tela’ót,
Ke’ílu heim mesurím li yerusháh,
Ve-tidrósh la-ʕavon rak, ke-‘ílu
Lekhá ein ʕal benéi ‘adám derisháh!
Re’éih na va-ʕamál ʕavdákh ve-ʕonyó
Ve-khí nafshó kemó da’áh yekusháh —
Ve-‘ehyéh lakh le-ʕolamím le-ʕéved
Ve-ló ‘esh’ál ʕadéi nétzaḥ ḥafisháh.

  1. Job 7:12.
  2. Job 10:6.
Feb 112013
 

True, I rarely translate piyut (although if I wanted to, I could translate one a day until I turned 120 and still probably not run out). There is a method to my madness here, though. My Hebrew professor recently had me read through the Avodah portion of the Musaf service for Yom Kippur, which describes in almost loving detail the (frankly somewhat wacky) special sacrifices and communal services on Yom Kippur in Jerusalem when the Temple still stood. It brought to mind this ibn Gabirol piyut, which deals directly with the loss of the various accouterments of Yom Kippur worship (and general worship) in the Temple, and is in fact added to the Yom Kippur Musaf after the Avodah in several Sephardic liturgies.

Oh, and of course, Berry Sakharof did a version of it on his ibn Gabirol album, which helped. It may be a piyut about animal sacrifice and sin expiation, but our favorite Israeli post-punk imbues it with a dirgelike arrangement and dispassionate delivery perfect for a song about a more modern and fitting topic (say, heroin). He also moves the opening line to the end, which I approve of. Again, if you dig it, show Berry your love by purchasing and downloading the album here for a very reasonable 30 NIS/~$8.

Berry Sakharof and Rea Mokhiach - Uv-khen Hayah le-Ayin

Shlomo ibn Gabirol (1021? – 1058?)
And So It Came to Naught

And so it came to naught:
Every eye’s delight.
No holy palace, no earthly dwellings,
No Sanhedrin’s court, no priestly chambers,
No sanctuary, and no hanging-hooks,
No fats reserved, no sacrifices,
No immersion, and no choice portions,
No expiation, and no confessions,
No holy altar, and no libations,
No fine flour, no valuations,1
No woven curtain, no caper bushes,2
No fragrant incense, no burning embers,
No blood poured out, and no smoky pillars,
No priestly vestments, and no grand splendors,
No beast sent to death, no wildernesses,
No scapegoat sent forth and no Azazel.

שלמה אבן גבירול / سليمان ابن جبيرول
ובכן היה לאין

 
וּבְכֵן הָיָה לְאַיִן
מַחְמַד כָּל עָיִן
לֹא אַרְמוֹן וְלֹא בִירָה
לֹא גָזִית וְלֹא דִירָה
לֹא הֵיכָל וְלֹא וָוִים
לֹא זֶבַח וְלֹא חֲלָבִים
לֹא טְבִילָה וְלֹא יָדוֹת
לֹא כֹפֶר וְלֹא לְהִתְוַדּוֹת
לֹא מִזְבֵּחַ וְלֹא נְסָכִים
לֹא סֹלֶת וְלֹא עֲרָכִים
לֹא פָרֹכֶת וְלֹא צְלָפִים
לֹא קְטֹרֶת וְלֹא רְצָפִים
לֹא שְׁפִיכָה וְלֹא תִימֹרֶת
לֹא שְׁמוֹנָה וְלֹא תִפְאֶרֶת
לֹא מִדְבָּר וְלֹא הָאוֹזֵל
לֹא שָׂעִיר וְלֹא עֲזָאזֵל
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Uv-khéin hayah le-‘áyin
Maḥmád kol ʕáyin
Lo ‘armón ve-ló viráh
Lo gazít ve-ló diráh
Lo heikhál ve-ló vavím
Lo zévaḥ ve-ló ḥalavím
Lo teviláh ve-ló yadót
Lo khófer ve-ló lehitvadót
Lo mizbéiaḥ ve-ló nesakhím
Lo sólet ve-ló ʕarakhím
Lo farókhet ve-ló tzelafím
Lo ketóret ve-ló retzafím
Lo shefikháh ve-ló timóret
Lo shemonáh ve-ló tif’éret
Lo midbár ve-ló ha-‘ozéil
Lo saʕír ve-ló ʕazazéil.

  1. Of the worth of a person or animal to be dedicated to the Temple.
  2. Caper bushes have three different “fruits” which must be tithed (to the Temple). Which is a lot.
Jan 202013
 

This here is basically your boy’s theme song lately. My own frequent dialogues with my soul, the impossible bitch, tend to be along these lines. I guess my shtick was already old a millennium ago.

The concluding thirteen lines of this poem are in Arabic. I’m not 100% confident on the transliteration. If you want to fix it, I would be pleased. Go ahead, make my terrible day.

And yes, once again, I’ve attached Berry Sakharof’s version for your listening pleasure. This one’s pretty killer. Of course, the poem is very long and partly in Arabic, so Berry only does the first section (until “‘al titʕarvi” – “don’t get yourself involved”). Honestly, I’m with Berry on this one – maybe it’s not as much as of a tour de force, but it’s a perfectly effective poem if you end it right there. If you like it, once again, buy it.

Berry Sakharof and Rea Mokhiach - Mah Lakh Yeḥidah

Shlomo ibn Gabirol (1021? – 1058?)
Wherefore, My Soul

Wherefore, my soul, do you now sit
As silent as a captive king,
Why fold your wings of joy,1
Why drag this wing of woes?
How long shall your heart mourn,
How long shall you draw tears?
You cling to grief as if
To hew a grave within.
Hush, my soul, by God, be still —
Be still, restrain your tears,
But stand and wait, look out ’til He
Who sits above looks down and sees!
Just close your door behind your back,
And hide until the anger’s passed.
‘Twould be so easy in your eyes;
If you should thirst or hunger,
Your reward will multiply,
And in the end you’ll prosper.
So shut yourself off from this world —
Don’t get yourself involved.

Wherefore, O traitorous Earth,
Do you strut about so wanton?
My soul’s revolted by your charms —
In vain you try to court me,
Don’t offer gifts, for by the morrow
You’ll take back all you’ve given!
Run back, my soul, to God,
Run back, and make your poor heart glad,
Before him plead your sorry case,
In his sight draw out a tear,
And perhaps he’ll cast you from this pit
In which you now reside,
Amongst these boorish fools
Whom you hate and so despise.
If you write — they cannot tell
If you’re writing or erasing;
If you speak — they cannot tell
If you’re right or if you’re lying!
The day you part from them
Give thanks and make an offering,
The day you witness worthy men,
Then count yourself among them.

Rise up, you poor and stormy thing,
Rise up and stand up firm,
Rise up, be wary how you’re seen,
And make yourself a name.
Forsake your father and your mother,
And love your Rock alone,
Rise up and in his footsteps run,
As fleet as hinds or hawks.
If you should find distress or strife —
Fear not, don’t storm against them,
If peaks or valleys you should stride,
Or ride the great waves of the sea.
Put Spain behind your back,
Set out and don’t delay,
‘Til you walk the earth of Babylon,
And Egypt and the Blessed Land —
There stride with all your strength,
There rise, be made sublime!

Why, you poor and stormy thing,
Do you fade away lamenting?
Because you left your people, or
Are you pining for your homeland?
Put these two things behind your eyes —
Then no longer will you ache:
For God’s own shadow covers you
Should you leave or should you settle,
For I’ll be thought a stranger
‘Til I’m rotting in my grave.
Remember, three were made to live
As strangers, think on them:
The Steadfast2 and the Honest3 and the Envoy;4
All had to flee the hands of foes,
And shelter in their flight they found
In God, the Rider on the Clouds! 5
Behind me, may my rivals’ land
Be named to fit King David’s curse.6
May sulfur, salt and also flame
Consume the bounty of its earth.
May you not last, O land of foes,
A day past when I leave you!
I have no stake within your midst,
Should you narrow or be widened.
My heart’s desire to wander forth —
Oh, when shall it draw near?
For I’ve been bound between these bulls,
Woe to me for what befalls me!
Woe to all these happy men
Who fail to understand my thoughts!
Woe to me, who dwells amidst,
Who’s tied so tightly to them!
Woe to stubborn Time as well —
How it’s caused me wonder!
Woe to this abode of mine
In which are choked my dreams!
In which I’ve stayed, a man apart,
‘Til I must weigh migration!
My stubborn ways give my words voice —
But Allah knows my faith!

שלמה אבן גבירול / سليمان ابن جبيرول
מה לך יחידה

 
מַה לָּךְ יְחִידָה, תֵּשְׁבִי
דוּמָם כְּמֶלֶךְ בַּשְּׁבִי,
כַּנְפֵי רְנָנִים תֶּאְסְפִי
וּכְנַף יְגוֹנִים תִּסְחֲבִי?
כַּמָּה לְבָבֵךְ יֶאֱבַל,
כַּמָּה דְמָעוֹת תִּשְׁאֲבִי?
דָּבַקְתְּ בִּיגוֹן עַד אֲשֶׁר
קֶבֶר בְּתוֹכוֹ תַחְצְבִי.
דֹמִּי, יְחִידָתִי, לְאֵל,
דֹמִּי וְאַל תֵּעָצְבִי,
עִמְדִי וְצַפִּי עַד אֲשֶׁר
יַשְׁקִיף וְיֵרֶא יוֹשְׁבִי!
סִגְרִי דְלָתֵךְ בַּעֲדֵךְ,
עַד יַעֲבָר-זַעַם חֲבִי.
יֵקַל בְּעֵינַיִךְ מְאֹד,
אִם תִּצְמְאִי אוֹ תִרְעֲבִי,
יִרֶב שְׂכָרֵךְ עַד מְאֹד
וּבְאַחֲרִיתֵךְ תֵּיטְבִי.
הִנָּזְרִי מֵאַחֲרֵי
תֵבֵל וְאַל תִּתְעָרְבִי!
 
מַה לָּךְ אֲדָמָה בוֹגְדָה
תִּתְהַלְּכִי וּתְסוֹבֲבִי?
נַפְשִׁי בְּיָפְיֵךְ מָאֲסָה –
לַשָּׁוְא עָלַי תַּעְגְבִי,
אַל תִּתְּנִי, כִּי מָחֳרָת
תִּקְחִי אֶת אֲשֶׁר תִּתְּנַדְּבִי!
שׁוּבִי יְחִידָתִי, לְאֵל,
שׁוּבִי וְלִבֵּךְ שׁוֹבֲבִי,
הִתְחַנֲנִי אֵלָיו, וְגַם
דִּמְעָה לְפָנָיו שַׁאֲבִי,
אוּלַי יְצַו וִישַׁלְּחֵךְ
מִבּוֹר, אֲשֶׁר בּוֹ תִשְׁכְּבִי,
מִבֵּין אֲנָשִׁים בּוֹעֲרִים
שֶׁתִּשְׂנְאִי וּתְתַעֲבִי.
אִם תִּכְתְּבִי – לֹא יֵדְעוּ
אִם תִּמְחֲקִי אוֹ תִכְתְּבִי,
אִם תּאֹמְרִי – לֹא יֵדְעוּ
אִם תִּצְדְּקִי אוֹ תִכְזְבִי!
יוֹם תֵּצְאִי מֵהֶם – תְּנִי
תוֹדָה וְזֶבַח קָרְבִי,
יוֹם תֵּצְאִי לִרְאוֹת אֱנוֹשׁ,
אָז כֶּאֱנוֹשׁ תִּתְחַשְׁבִי.
 
קוּמִי, עֲנִיָּה סֹעֲרָה,
קוּמִי וְגַם הִתְיַצְּבִי,
קוּמִי וְגוּרִי בַּאֲשֶׁר
תִּוָּדְעִי, תִּנָּקְבִי.
קוּמִי וְשִׁכְחִי אָב וְאֵם,
צוּרֵךְ לְבַדּוֹ אֶהֱבִי,
קוּמִי וְרוּצִי אַחֲרָיו,
קַלָּה כְנֶשֶׁר אוֹ צְבִי.
אִם תִּמְצְאִי מָצוֹק וְצַּר –
אַל תִּפְחֲדִי, אַל תִּרְהֲבִי,
אִם תִּדְרְכִי עֵמֶק וְהַר,
אִם בָּמֳתֵי יָם תִּרְכְּבִי.
שִׂימִי סְפָרַד אַחֲרֵי
גֵוֵךְ וְאַל תִּתְעַכְּבִי,
עַד תִּדְרְכִי צֹעַן וְגַם
בָּבֶל וְאֶרֶץ הַצְּבִי –
שָׁם תִּדְרְכִי כָל עֹז, וְשָׁם
תִּנָּשְׂאִי, תִּשָׂגְבִי!
 
לָמָּה, עֲנִיָּה סֹעֲרָה,
תִּכְלִי וְלָמָּה תִדְאֲבִי?
הַעַל נְטֹשׁ עַמֵּךְ, וְאִם
עַל בֵּית מְגוּרֵךְ תִּדְאֲבִי?
שִׂימִי שְׁתֵּי אֵלֶּה לְמוּל
עֵינֵךְ – וְאָז לֹא תִכְאֲבִי:
כִּי צֵל אֱלוֹהַּ בַּעֲדֵךְ –
אִם תֵּלְכִי אוֹ תֵשְׁבִי,
כִּי גֵר אֲנִי נֶחְשָׁב, עֲדֵי
עַצְמִי בְקֶבֶר תִּרְקְבִי.
זִכְרִי שְׁלֹשָׁה נִתְּנוּ
לָגוּר, וּבָהֶם חַשְּׁבִי:
אֵיתָן וְאִישׁ תָּמִים וְצִיר
נָס מִפְּנֵי יַד אוֹיְבִי,
חָסוּ בְגָלוּתָם בְּשֵׁם
צוּר בָּעֲרָבוֹת רוֹכְבִי!
אֶרֶץ יְרִיבַי, אַחֲרַי
תּוּאַר בְּקִלְלַת בֶּן-לְבִי.
גָּפְרִית וְגַם מֶלַח וְאֵשׁ
תֹּאכַל יְבוּלָהּ בַּעֲבִי.
אִי-לָךְ אֶרֶץ שׁוֹרֲרַי,
יוֹם אַחֲרֵי תֵעָזְבִי!
אֵין לִי בְּקִרְבֵּךְ נַחֲלָה
אִם תֵּצְרִי אוֹ תִרְחֲבִי.
תַּאְוַת לְבָבִי לַנְּדוֹד –
עַד אָן וּמָתַי תִּקְרְבִי
הֵן בֵּין שְׁוָרִים נֶאֱסַר
לַהְפַה’ עַלַי מַא חַלַּבִי!
לַהְפַה’ עַלַי קַוְםִ גַ’דֻּו
לַם יַשְעַרֻו מַאְרַבִי,
לַהְפַה’ עַלַי מֻכְתִ’י בִהִם
וַעַלַי עַטִ’ים תַנַשֻּבִי,
לַהְפַה’ עַלַי זַמַאן אַבַי
קַד טַאלַ פִיהִ תַעַגֻּ’בִי,
לַהְפַה’ עַלַי סַקְעִ אלַּדִ’י
קַד צַ’אקַ פִיהִ מֻטְלִבִי,
בַקַיְתֻ פִיהִ מֻפְרִדַא
חַתַּי אסְתַבַדַּ תַגַרֻּבִי,
חַלַּ אלְגַ’פַא מַקַאלַתִי
אַללַּהֻ יַעְלַםֻ מַדְ’הַבִי!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Mah lakh yeḥidáh, teishví
Dumám ke-mélekh ba-sheví,
Kanféi renaním te’esfí
Ukhnáf yegoním tisḥaví?
Kámah levavéikh ye’evál,
Kámah demaʕót tish’aví?
Davákt bigón ʕad ‘ashér
Kéver be-tokhó taḥtzeví.
Dómi, yeḥidatí, le-‘éil,
Dómi, ve-‘al teiʕatzví,
ʕimdí ve-tzapí ʕad ‘ashér
Yashkíf ve-yeiré yoshví!
Sigrí delatéikh baʕadéikh,
ʕad yaʕavór záʕam, ḥaví.
Yeikál be-ʕeináyikh me’ód,
‘Im titzme’í ‘o tirʕaví,
Yirév sekharéikh ʕad me’ód
U-ve-‘aḥaritéikh teitví.
Hinazrí mei-‘aḥaréi
Teivéil ve-‘al titʕarví!

Mah lakh ‘adamáh vogdáh
Tithalkhí u-tesovaví?
Nafshí be-yofyéikh ma’asáh —
La-sháv ʕalái taʕgeví,
‘Al titní, ki maḥarát
Tikḥí ‘et ‘ashér titnadví!
Shúvi, yeḥidatí, le-‘éil,
Shúvi ve-libéikh shovaví,
Hitḥananí ‘eláv, ve-gám
Dimʕáh lefanáv sha’aví,
‘Ulái yetzáv vishalḥéikh
Mi-bór, ‘ashér bo tishkeví,
Mi-béin ‘anashím boʕarím
She-tisne’í u-tetaʕaví.
‘Im tikhteví — lo yedʕú
‘Im timḥekí ‘o tikhteví,
‘Im tomrí — lo yedʕú
‘Im titzdekí ‘o tikhzeví!
Yom teitz’í mei-hém — tení
Todáh ve-zévaḥ korví,
Yom teitz’í lir’ót ‘enósh,
‘Az ke-‘enósh titḥashví.

Kúmi, ʕaniyá soʕaráh,
Kúmi ve-gám hityatzví,
Kúmi ve-gúri ba’ashér
Tivadʕí, tinakví.
Kúmi ve-shikheḥí ‘av ve-‘éim
Tzuréikh levadó ‘eheví,
Kúmi ve-rútzi ‘aḥaráv,
Kaláh khe-nésher ‘o tzeví.
‘Im timtze’í matzók ve-tzár —
‘Al tifḥedí, ‘al tirhaví,
Im tidrekhí ʕéimek ve-hár,
‘Im bamotéi yam tirkeví.
Sími sefarád ‘aḥaréi
Geivéikh ve-‘al titʕakví,
ʕad tidrekhí tzoʕán ve-gám
Bavél ve-‘éretz ha-tzeví —
Sham tidrekhí khol ʕoz, ve-shám
Tinas’í, tisagví!

Lámah, ʕaniyáh soʕaráh,
Tikhlí ve-lámah tid’aví?
Ha-ʕal netósh ʕaméikh, ve-‘ím
ʕal beit meguréikh tid’aví?
Sími shtei éileh le-múl
ʕeinéikh — ve-‘áz lo tikh’aví:
Ki tzeil ‘elóah baʕadéikh —
‘Im telkhí ‘o teishví,
Ki geir ‘aní neḥsháv, ʕadéi
ʕatzmí ve-kéver tirkeví.
Zikhrí shelosháh nitnú
Lagúr, u-vahém ḥashví:
‘Eitán ve-‘ísh tamím ve-tzír
Nas mipnéi yad oyeví,
Ḥasú ve-galutám be-shéim
Tzur ba-ʕaravót rokhví!
‘Éretz yerivái, aḥarái
Tu’ár be-kilelát ben leví.
Gofrít ve-gám mélaḥ ve-‘éish
Tokhál yevuláh ba-ʕaví.
‘I lakh ‘eretz shorarái,
Yom ‘aḥaréi teiʕazví!
‘Ein li be-kirbéikh naḥaláh
‘Im teitzrí ‘o tirḥaví.
Ta’vát levaví la-nedód —
ʕad ‘an u-matái tikreví?
Hein bein shevarím ne’esár
Láhfa ʕálai maa ḥalábi!
Láhfa ʕálai qawmi jáddu
Lam yasʕáru ma’rábi,
Láhfa ʕálai múkhthi bíhim
Wa-ʕálai ʕáṭṭim tanasúbi,
Láhfa ʕálai zamáan ‘ábai
Qad ṭaala fíihi taʕjjúbi,
Láhfa ʕálai saqʕí ‘alládhi
Qad ṣaq fíihi múṭlibi,
Baqáytu fíihi mufridáa
Ḥáttai ‘astabáda tagharrúbi,
Ḥálla ‘al-jafáa maqáalati
‘Alláhu yáʕlamu madhhábi!

  1. Job 39:13. Renením means both “joys” and a kind of bird, as in Job.
  2. Abraham.
  3. Jacob.
  4. Moses.
  5. Psalm 68:4.
  6. Schirmann thinks בן-לבי, which is unclear, should be emended to בן-לביא, the “son of the lion,” and be read as a reference to David, King of Judah (whose symbol was, of course, the lion). The “curse of David,” he supposes, is to be found in 1 Samuel 1:21. It seems reasonable enough to me.