May 132014
 

This one is really kind of clever, in a couple of ways. First of all, it’s a fine example of good-natured poetic fuckery, the poet’s equivalent of that trick the more literate among us all learned in school, how to write 500 words on an essay question’s prompt without ever actually approaching the question (I assume every teacher realizes what’s going on immediately, but just gives it a pass because anyone who can successfully pull it off is already writing beyond their grade level, and chutzpadik to boot).

The second is that Immanuel has been asked to write an ottava rima, which he does indeed, but he refers to the style as writing “`al ha-sheminit,” (lit. “on the eighth”), a direction found at the beginning of a couple Psalms, probably in reference either to an eight-stringed instrument or some kind of harmony arrangement for the Levitical choir. Both sheminit and ottava (“octave”) come from the same root in their respective languages, the number eight.

Anyway, according to the superscription, apparently a young man asked the poet to compose a poem in ottava rima, without specifying a theme. It would seem, given the flippant tone of the resulting poem, that Immanuel is not terribly impressed with the form (and this generation thinks it invented metatextuality).

Immanuel Frances (1618? – 1710?)
On the Eight

A poem my son requested on the eight:
I took to write some paper, ink, a pen.
And while I yet expended my thoughts’ weight,
I looked and saw I’d made the rhyme by then!
The rest with God’s help I will quick create,
According to his wishes and his yen.
For even if two lines are all you’ve spun,
On the eight, your poem’s already done.

עמנואל פראנשיס
על השמינית

 
עַל־הַשְּׁמִינִית שִׁיר בְּנִי שׁוֹאֵל
אֶקַּח לְכָתְבוֹ עֵט נְיָר וּדְיוֹ.
אָמְנָם בְּעוֹד שֶׁחַבְּרוֹ אוֹאֵל
אֶרְאֶה וְהִנֵּה נַעֲשָׂה חֶצְיוֹ.
גַּם הַשְּׁאָר אַעַשׂ בְּעֶזְרַת אֵל
עַל־קַו שְׁאֵלָתוֹ וּמַאְוַיּוֹ.
כִּי אִם־שְׁתֵּי שִׁטּוֹת לְבָד אוּלָם
עַל־הַשְּׁמִינִית שִׁיר כְּבָר נִשְׁלָם.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

ʕal ha-sheminít shir bení sho’éil
‘Eqáḥ le-khotvó ʕeit neyár u-dyó.
‘ómnam be-ʕód she-ḥabró ‘o’éil
‘Er’éh ve-hinéih naʕasáh ḥetzyó.
Gam ha-she’ár ‘aʕás be-ʕezrát eil
ʕal qav she’eilató u-ma’vayó.
Ki ‘im shetéi shitót levád ‘ulám
ʕal ha-sheminít shir kevár nishlam.

Apr 162013
 

As it turns out, Immanuel, God gave them speaking tongues so they could one day run Aish Discovery seminars. To everything there is a season.

Immanuel Frances (1618? – 1710?)
If All That Comes Between

If all that comes between a beast
And man is the power to speak —
What made God give a speaking tongue
To stupid boors whose minds are weak?

עמנואל פראנשיס
אם ההבדל

 
אִם הַהֶבְדֵּל בֵּין בַּעַל חָי
אֶל הָאָדָם הוּא הַדִּבּוּר —
לָמָּה הָאֵל נָתַן לָשׁוֹן
דּוֹבֶרֶת לַטִּפֵּשׁ וָבוּר?
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Im ha-hevdéil bein báʕal ḥai
‘el ha-‘adám hu ha-dibúr —
Lámah ha-‘éil natán lashón
dovéret la-tipéish va-vúr?

Mar 282013
 

Would that we all had such problems.

Immanuel Frances (1618? – 1710?)
Whenever Hannah

Whenever Hannah in bright light adrape I view,
Naomi — Glory! — through my mem’ry races —
And though my spirit for sweet Hannah blazes,
My soul’s afire for Naomi’s shape anew!

I’m passing o’er these two thoughts, agape – just two!
Today, I’m all for Hannah’s lady graces,
Yet of Naomi’s rule there linger traces.
Is there a place, O Love, I could escape you?

For as the way that steel by steel is sharpened,
Twofold the bite of Lust by Lust increases,
And so my thoughts with gloomy fear have darkened!

To you, O Love, hands spread, I make obeisance:
Oh, give me two twin hearts and I’d be heartened,
Or else please cleave my heart into two pieces!

עמנואל פראנשיס
עת אחזה חנה

 
עֵת אֶחֱזֶה חַנָּה בְּאוֹר זוֹרֵחַ,
עֵת נָעֳמִי אַזְכִּיר כְּלִיל תִּפְאֶרֶת —
נַפְשִׁי בְּעַד חַנָּה הֲכִי בּוֹעֶרֶת,
וּלְנָעֳמִי רוּחִי כְּאֵשׁ קוֹדֵחַ!
 
בִּשְׁתֵּי סְעִפִּים הִנְנִי פּוֹסֵחַ:
חַנָּה כְּהַיּוֹם בִּי תְהִי לִגְבֶרֶת,
גַּם נָעֳמִי בִּי מִתְּמוֹל שׂוֹרֶרֶת.
אָן, אַהֲבָה, מִמֵּךְ אֱהִי בּוֹרֵחַ?
 
הָהּ, כִּי כְּמוֹ בַּרְזֶל בְּבַרְזֶל יָחַד,
חֵשֶׁק בְּחֵשֶׁק חֻדְּדוּ כִּפְלַיִם,
עַל כֵּן סְעִפַּי פָּחֲדוּ שָׁם פַּחַד!
 
לָךְ, אַהֲבָה, אֹמַר פְּרוּשׂ כַּפַּיִם:
אוֹ לִי שְׁנֵי לִבּוֹת תְּנִי גַם יַחַד,
אוֹ אֶת לְבָבִי בַּתְּרִי לִשְׁנָיִם!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

ʕeit ‘eḥezéh ḥanáh be-‘ór zoréiaḥ
ʕeit naʕomí ‘azkír kelíl tif’éret —
Nafshí be-ʕád ḥanáh hakhí boʕéret,
U-le-naʕomí ruḥí ke-‘éish kodéiaḥ!

Bishtéi seʕipím hinení poséiaḥ:
Ḥanáh ke-ha-yóm bi tehí ligvéret,
Gam naʕomí bi mi-temól soréret.
‘An, ‘ahaváh, mi-méikh ‘ehí boréiaḥ?

Hah, ki kemó barzél be-varzél yáḥad,
Ḥéishek be-ḥéishek ḥudedú kifláyim,
ʕal kein seʕipái paḥadú sham páḥad!

Lakh, ‘ahaváh, ‘omár perús kapáyim:
‘O li shenéi libót tení gam yáḥad,
‘O ‘et levaví batrí lishnáyim!

Mar 192013
 

Hey, look! My neurons fired in unison long enough for me to translate a poem! Is it St. Swithin’s Day already?!

Immanuel Frances (1618? – 1710?)
Gorgeous Girl, Within My Breast

O gorgeous girl, within my breast long have you been a rooted tree —
Why is it then you murder me and make of me a mockery,
That struck with your affections without dressing for my injury,
A mouse inside a cat’s cruel jaws in your hands I’ll forever be?

עמנואל פראנשיס
יפהפיה, בתוך חיקי

 
יְפֵהפִיָּה, בְּתוֹךְ חֵיקִי כְּבָר הָיִית כְּעֵץ שָׁתוּל,
וְלָמָּה זֶה תְּמִיתִינִי, וְעִמִּי תַּעֲשִׂי הִתּוּל,
אֲשֶׁר מֻכֶּה אֲהַבַיִךְ בְּלִי חֻבְשָׁה, בְּלִי חִתּוּל,
אֱהִי הַיּוֹם בְּיָדַיִךְ כְּמוֹ עַכְבָר בְּפִי חָתוּל?
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Yefeifiyáh, be-tókh ḥeikí kevár hayít ke-ʕéitz shatúl,
Ve-lámah zeh temitíni, ve-ʕimí taʕasí hitúl,
‘Ashér mukéh ‘ahaváyikh belí ḥuvsháh, belí ḥitúl,
‘Ehí ha-yóm be-yadáyikh kemó ʕakhbár be-fí ḥatúl?

Mar 082013
 

Immanuel Frances (1618? – 1710?)
Epitaphs

Another in Memory of a Woman with a Jealous Husband:
Run quick, friends, to witness this wonder today,
For here some man’s put in the ground his dear wife;
No longer will jealousy rule o’er his life,
For down with the worms it’s been hidden away.

עמנואל פראנשיס
ציוני קבר

 
אחרת לאשת איש קנאי ובשמה
רוּצוּ, קִרְאוּ פֶּלֶא גָדוֹל, רֵעִים!
פֹּה אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אֶת אִשְׁתּוּ קָבַר,
גַּם לֹא עָלָיו רוּחַ קִנְאָה עָבַר,
כִּי תִסָּתֵר הַיּוֹם עִם תּוֹלָעִים!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Rútzu, kir’ú péle gadól, reʕím!
Poh ‘ish plóni ‘et ‘ishtó kavár,
Gam lo ʕaláv rúaḥ kin’áh ʕavár,
Ki tisatéir ha-yóm ʕim tolaʕím!

Mar 072013
 

Immanuel Frances (1618? – 1710?)
Epitaphs

In Memory of a Miser:
Hungry, despite all the wealth I had hoarded,
I came to this pit, but never felt shorted;
For after, I know, all men breathe their last breath
Not one of them eats in the shadow of death.

עמנואל פראנשיס
ציוני קבר

 
לכלי ובשמו
רָעֵב, וְאִם הוֹן רַב כְּבָר גָּנַזְתִּי,
בָּאתִי לְשׁוּחָה זֹאת, וְלֹא רָגַזְתִּי,
כִּי אֵדְעָה כִּי אַחֲרֵי הַמָּוֶת
לֹא יֹאכְלוּ אִישִׁים בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Raʕéiv, ve-ím hon rav kevár ganázti,
Báti le-shuḥáh zot, ve-ló ragázti,
Ki ‘eidʕáh ki ‘aḥaréi ha-mávet
Lo yokhlú ‘ishím be-géi tzalmávet.

Mar 062013
 

Immanuel Frances (1618? – 1710?)
Epitaphs

In Memory of a Woman with a Jealous Husband:
If you’re viewing this grave, these words on my shrine,
Be very careful, sirs, not to draw near it;
If he saw a man here, that husband of mine
Would be overcome by jealousy’s spirit.

עמנואל פראנשיס
ציוני קבר

 
לאשת איש קנאי ובשמה
רוֹאִים בְּצִיּוּן זֶה, אֲשֶׁר אֶצְלִי,
הִשָּׁמְרוּ לָכֶם קְרֹב אֵלָיו,
כִּי אִם אֱנוֹשׁ פֹּה יֶחֱזֶה בַּעְלִי,
רוּחַ קְנָאוֹת יַעֲבֹר עָלָיו.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ro’ím be-tziyún zeh, ‘ashér ‘etzlí,
Hishamrú lakhém keróv ‘eiláv,
Ki ‘im ‘enósh poh yeḥezú baʕlí,
Rúaḥ kena’ót yaʕavór ʕaláv.

Mar 042013
 

Immanuel Frances (1618? – 1710?)
Epitaphs

For a Cheat:
An epitaph for a cheat, who here, one believes,
Was brought down to the pit, but some say instead
That he yet lives on, and so clever deceives
For reasons unknown, and just seems to be dead.

עמנואל פראנשיס
ציוני קבר

 
לאיש רמאי
צִיּוּן לְאִישׁ רַמַּאי, אֲשֶׁר פֹּה בֶּאֱמֶת
הוּרַד לְתוֹךְ שׁוּחָה, אֲבָל יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים
כִּי הוּא יְהִי עוֹד חַי וְעָרוֹם יַעֲרִים
הַיּוֹם לְסִבַּת מָה וּמִתְרָאֶה כְּמֵת.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Tziyún le-‘ísh ramái, ‘ashér poh be-’emét
Hurád le-tókh shuḥáh, ‘avál yeish ‘omrím
Ki hu yehí ʕod ḥai ve-ʕaróm yaʕarím
Ha-yóm le-sibát mah u-mitra’éh ke-méit.

Mar 032013
 

A little Song of Songs, a little Pirkei Avot, a little nod to the Andalusian school, a little Hebrew love poetry, who could ask for anything more?

Immanuel Frances (1618? – 1710?)
How Lovely, My Fawn

How lovely, my fawn, are your footsteps and footfalls
  Whenever you dance, or but tread on your pathways.
There my heart’s thoughts shall discover their comfort
  There nest my senses, in your garments’ fringes.
Indeed in my eyes have grown pleasant your paces
  ’Til deep in my body to you I would whisper:
“Oh, please may it be that today, my gazelle,
  I roll myself grey in the dust of your footprints!”

עמנואל פראנשיס
יפו פעמיך ומנעליך

 
יָפוּ פְעָמַיִךְ וּמַנְעָלַיִךְ,
 עָפְרָה, בְּעֵת רָקְדֵךְ וּבִשְׁבִילַיִךְ,
שָׁם מַחְשְׁבוֹת לִבִּי מְנוּחָה יִמְצְאוּ,
 שָׁם קִנְּנוּ חוּשַׁי וּבֵין שׁוּלָיִךְ.
אָכֵן צְעָדַיִךְ בְּעֵינַי נָעֲמוּ
 עַד כִּי בְקִרְבִּי אֹמְרָה אֵלָיִךְ:
מִי יִתְּנֵנִי־נָא וּמִתְאַבֵּק אֱהִי
 הַיּוֹם, צְבִיָּה, בַּעֲפַר רַגְלָיִךְ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Yafú feʕamáyikh u-manʕaláyikh,
ʕofráh, be-ʕéit rokdéikh u-vishviláyikh,
Sham maḥshevót libí menuḥáh yimtze’ú,
Sham kinenú ḥushái u-véin shuláyikh.
‘Akhéin tzeʕadáyikh be-ʕéinai naʕamú
ʕad ki ve-kirbí ‘omráh ‘eiláyikh:
Mi yitnéini na u-mit’abéik ‘ehí
Ha-yóm, tzeviyáh, be-‘ʕafár ragláyikh.

Mar 012013
 

I’ve found even more of these. I enjoy them greatly. They combine two of my favorite diversions: morbidness and mockery.

Immanuel Frances (1618? – 1710?)
Epitaphs

In Memory of a Drunk:
My mouth, ’til my passing, plain water eschewed,
My thirst I slaked only with wine all my years;
Therefore, dear reader, I humbly beseech you
Don’t spill on my gravesite your watery tears.

עמנואל פראנשיס
ציוני קבר

 
לשכור ובשמו
מַיִם מִפִּי עַד יוֹם מוֹתִי כָּלִאתִי
וָאַרְוֶה צִמְאוֹנִי תָמִיד בַּיָּיִן;
לָכֵן פָּנֶיךָ, הַקּוֹרֵא, חִלִּיתִי,
אַל תִּשְׁפֹּךְ עַל קִבְרִי מֵי דִּמְעַת עָיִן.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Le-shikór u-vishmó:
Máyim mi-pí ʕad yom motí kalíti
Va-‘arvéh tzim’oní tamíd ba-yáyin;
Lakhéin panékha, ha-koréi, ḥilíti,
‘Al tishpókh ʕal kivrí mei dimʕát ʕáyin.