Jul 282016
 

Apparently he wrote this one about someone who had worn his clothes without permission.

Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
Behold This Base Villain

Behold this base villain, his fate should be bitter;
O Heaven, expose his sins, grant me your favors!
He has his own flocks, yet if lamb were his fancy,
He’d steal from a pauper the fruit of his labors;
His foreskin, he fears, might get worn out and fail him —
Instead he would much rather fuck with his neighbor’s.

עמנואל הרומי
ראו נבל

 
רְאוּ נָבָל יְהִי רַע אַחֲרִיתוֹ
וְשָׁמַיִם יְגַלּוּ אֶת עֲווֹנוֹ
אֲשֶׁר לוֹ צֹאן וְכִבְשַֹת רָשׁ יְאַוֶּה
לְקַחְתָּהּ לוֹ בְחֶמְלָתוֹ לְצֹאנוֹ
וְלוֹ עָרְלָה וְמִיִּרְאַת בְּלוֹתָהּ
יְאַו לִבְעֹל בְּמוֹ עָרְלַת שְׁכֵנוֹ.
י

Jun 122014
 

Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
All You Who Ask

All you who ask why my tent I’ve deserted
Know not that it was what harsh Time demanded;
By him a cup of wormwood I’ve been handed,
‘Til all my own desires were subverted.

I’ve grown so weary of his charms perverted;
For all Time lends, I might say, being candid,
Are sorry days so I might well be branded
As like these camps of God1 I’ve often skirted.

I hate the Time I once appreciated;
I see my spirit bowing, deeply flustered,
To the mount of fools — how I’m frustrated!

Time knew that all its tents I dearly hated,
So for my kikayon a worm2 he’s mustered;
Perhaps, friends, for the best I’m mutilated.

עמנואל הרומי
השואלים איך אהלי נטשתי

 
הַשֹּׁאֲלִים אֵיךְ אָהֳלִי נָטַשְׁתִּי
לֹא תֵדְעוּ כִּי כֵן זְמָן צִוַּנִי
הוּא מַמְּרוֹר עִם לַעֲנָה הִרְוַנִי
עַד מִמְּצוֹא חֶפְצִי אֱמֶת נוֹאַשְׁתִּי
 
קַצְתִּי בְמַחְמַדָּיו וּבוֹ נִבְאַשְׁתִּי
מָה אֹמְרָה עוֹד הַזְּמָן הִלְוַנִי
יָמִים יְמֵי עֶצֶב עֲדֵי הִשְׁוַנִי
אֶל מַחֲנוֹת הָאֵל אֲשֶׁר פָּגַשְׁתִּי
 
אֶשְׂנָא זְמָן תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר קִנֵּאתִי
כִּי אֶחֱזֶה נַפְשִׁי אֲשֶׁר כּוֹרַעַת
אֶל הַר פְּתַיּוּת עַד אֲשֶׁר נַעְנֵיתִי
 
יָדַע זְמָן כִּי אָהֳלָיו שָׂנֵּאתִי
עַל כֵּן לְקִיקְיוֹנִי יְמָן תּוֹלַעַת
אוּלַי יְדִידַי כִּי לְטוֹב עֻנֵּיתִי.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ha-sho’alím ‘eikh ‘ohalí natáshti
Lo tedʕú ki khein zemán tziváni
Hu mamrór ʕim laʕanáh hirváni
ʕad mimtzó ḥeftzí ’emét no’áshti.

Qátzti ve-maḥmadáv u-vó niv’áshti
Mah ‘ómrah ʕod ha-zemán hilváni
Yamím yeméi ʕétzev ʕadéi hishváni
‘El maḥanót ha-‘éil ‘ashér pagáshti.

‘Esná zemán táḥat ‘ashér qinéiti
Ki ‘eḥezéh nafshí ‘ashér koráʕat
‘El har petayút ʕad ‘ashér naʕnéiti.

Yadáʕ zemán ki ‘ohaláv sanéiti
ʕal kein le-qiqyoní yemán toláʕat
‘Ulai yedidái ki le-tóv ʕunéiti.

  1. Judging from the context in which this sonnet appears in Immanuel’s Mahberot, he’s referring to the Jewish communities the narrator moves through, which he seems to view as being uniformly full of idiots.
  2. A reference to the story of Jonah and his beloved shady kikayon.
Jun 072014
 

Words to live by.

Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
They Asked Me

They asked me, “What’s good in a man?”
  I said, “Wisdom within him is best.”
“Without that,” I said, “then richness,
  In his gold’s glory’s mask to be dressed.”
“Without that,” I said, “then firm friends
  Should secret the faults in his breast.”
“Without that,” I said, “then silence
  Conceals the hate in his chest.”
“Without that,” I said, “then the grave
  Shall cover his head and the rest.”

עמנואל הרומי
שאלוני ומה טוב באדם

 
שְׁאֵלוּנִי ״וּמָה־זֶה טוֹב בְּאָדָם״
 הֲשִׁיבוֹתִי ״בְּשֵׂכֶל יִהְיֶה בּוֹ״
״וְאִם אֵין זֶה״ עֲנִיתִים ״הָעֲשִׁירוּת
 לְהִתְהַדֵּר בְּמַסֵּכַת זְהָבוֹ״
״וְאִם אֵין זֶה״ עֲנִיתִים ״הַחֲבֵרָה
 כְשֵֹרָה תַּעֲלִים מוּמֵי לְבָבוֹ״
״וְאִם אֵין זֶה״ עֲנִיתִים ״הַשְּׁתִיקָה
 לְכַסּוֹת אֶת זְדוֹן־לִבּוֹ בְּקִרְבּוֹ״
״וְאִם אֵין זֶה” עֲנִיתִים ״הַקְּבוּרָה
 תְּהִי סֻכָּה עֲלֵי רֹאשׁוֹ וְרֻבּוֹ.״
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

She’eilúnu u-máh zeh be-‘adám
Hashivóti be-séikhel yihyéh bo
Ve-‘ím ‘ein zeh ʕanitím ha-ʕashirút
Lehithadéir be-maseikhát zehavó
Ve-‘ím ‘ein zeh ʕanitím ha-ḥaveiráh
Khesheiráh taʕalím muméi levavó
Ve-‘ím ‘ein zeh ʕanitím ha-shtiqáh
Lekhasót ‘et zedón libó be-qirbó
Ve-‘ím ‘ein zeh ʕanitím ha-qevuráh
Tehí sukáh ʕaléi roshó ve-rubó.

May 232014
 

Immanuel: the original douchebag.

Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
Why Stare Here, Cursed Servant

Why stare here, cursed servant / through my window left ajar
Your dark skin you won’t whiten / ’til you somehow whiten tar.

עמנואל הרומי
מה לך פה שפחה נחרפת

 
מַה־לָךְ פֹּה שִׁפְחָה נֶחְרֶפֶת / וּבְעַד אֶשְׁנַבִּי נִשְׁקָפֶת
לֹא תַלְבִּינִי שַׁחְרוּת עוֹרֵךְ / עַד תַּלְבִּינִי אֶת הַזָּפֶת.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Mah lakh shifḥáh neḥréfet / u-ve-ʕad ‘eshnabí nishqáfet
Lo talbíni shaḥrút ʕoréikh / ʕad talbíni ‘et ha-záfet.

May 202014
 
Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
See the Groom

See the groom, all furnace-faced as if from Cush / The glowing bride, who shines and sparkles bright
Give thanks to Him who brings the light to darkness / And also brings the dark unto the light.

עמנואל הרומי
ראו חתן

 
רְאוּ חָתָן פְּנֵי כִבְשָׁן כְּכוּשָׁן / וְזִיו כַּלָה אֲשֶׁר יִזְרַח וְיֵאוֹר
וְהוֹדוּ אֶל אֲשֶׁר גּוֹלֵל לְאוֹר מִ־ / פְּנֵי חשֶׁךְ וְחשֶׁךְ לְאוֹר.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Re’ú ḥatán penéi khivshán ke-khushán / ve-zív kaláh ‘ashér yizráḥ ve-yei’ór
Ve-hodú ‘el ‘ashér goléil le-‘ór mi- / pnéi ḥóshekh ve-ḥóshekh mipnéi ‘or.

May 082014
 

This one I think we can definitely all relate to. I wonder if this is the ur-“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”

Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
Every Man Who Hires a Jewish Servant

O, every man who hires a Jewish servant
  He hires himself a lord within his dwelling
To mine I offered but my little finger
  And soon enough my arm he was requesting
“Come in, and here’s a place to sit,” I told him
  He asked me for a cushion for reclining
I told him, “Eat from all I have to offer,”
  With his sweet words he asked me what’s for drinking
I told him, “Sleep,” he asked me for a courtyard
  With brass and iron fences for surrounding
I gave him bread, he drank my fine wine freely
  But quail and manna, that was more his craving
In finest vests and cloaks I duly dressed him
  He asked for bells to grace his garments’ fringing1
And so I raise my voice as if a shofar
  As if a king and his viziers commanding
That when you buy the servant buy a rod too,
  A strap as well for all his evildoing.

עמנואל הרומי
כל הקונה עבד עברי

 
כָּל־הַקּוֹנֶה עֶבֶד עִבְרִי / קוֹנֶה אָדוֹן לוֹ בִּגְבוּלָיו
נָתַתִּי אֶל־עַבְדִּי זֶרֶת / בִּקֵּשׁ אַמָּה לוֹ בִּמְשָׁלָיו
אָמַרְתִּי ״סוּרָה וּשְׁבָה־פֹּה״ / בִּקֵּשׁ כַּר לָשֶׁבֶת עָלָיו
אָמַרְתִּי ״אָכְלָה מִצֵּידִי״ / בִּקֵּשׁ לְשְׁתּוֹת עִם טוֹב מִלָּיו
אָמַרְתִּי ״לִין״ בִּקֵּשׁ חָצֵר / בַּרְזֶל וּנְחשֶׁת מִנְעָלָיו
אוֹכִילֵהוּ פַת אַשְׁקֶנּוּ / יֵין רִקְחִי בִּקֵּשׁ מָן וּשְׂלָו
הִלְבַּשְׁתִּיהוּ אֵפוֹד וּמְעִיל / בִּקֵּשׁ רִמּוֹנִים עַל־שׁוּלָיו
לָכֵן אָרִים קוֹל כַּשּׁוֹפָר / מִטַּעַם מֶלֶךְ וּגְדֹלָיו
לִקְנוֹת עִם־הָעֶבֶד מַקֵּל / וּרְצוּעָה לִפְרִי מַעְלָלָיו.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Kol ha-qonéh ʕéved ʕivrí / qonéh ‘adón lo bigvuláv
Natáti ‘el ʕavdí zéret / biqéish ‘amáh lo bimshaláv
‘Amárti súrah u-shváh poh / biqéish kar lashévet ʕaláv
‘Amárti ‘ókhlah mi-tzeidí / biqéish lishtot ʕim tov miláv
‘Amárti lin biqéish ḥatzéir / barzél unḥóshet minʕaláv
‘Okhiléihu fat ‘ashqénu / yein riqḥí biqéish man u-sláv
Hilbashtíhu ‘eifód umʕíl / biqéish rimoním ʕal shuláv
Lakhéin ‘arím qol ka-shofár / mi-táʕam mélekh ugdoláv
Liqnot ʕim ha-ʕéved maqéil / urtzuʕáh lifrí maʕlaláv.

  1. Immanuel is playing around here with the priestly uniform described in the Torah – the word I’ve translated as “bells” is “pomegranates,” evidently some sort of round decoration that were supposed to be stitched to the fringes of the priestly garments.
Sep 232013
 

Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
Two Years Have Gone By

Two years have gone by since the day that I married
My husband, alive yet; and I know no pleasure.
May he die by lightning, or thunder, whichever;
As princess of beauties I’ll once more be carried.

Day in and day out, Death’s name I have harried
For long has my soul longed to change my life’s flavor
I know not the end of this raging disfavor
Oh, curse that cruel day to his house I was ferried.

My neighbor, I see, in months no more than thirty
Three times a dead husband has already buried
The women say, “She must be so happy, surely!”

She’s cursed gods and men who live holy and purely
A bitch dog who lives amongst fierce lions serried
And yet ‘mongst their number she breeds pups securely.

עמנואל הרומי
זה לי שנתים


זֶה לִי שְׁנָתַיִם אֲשֶׁר נָשָֹאתִי
בַּעַל וְעוֹדוֹ חַי וְאֵין לִי נֹעַם
יָמוּת בְּחֵץ בָּרָק וּמִקּוֹל רַעַם
אָז בֵּין בְּנוֹת הַחֵן אֱהִי שָֹרָתִי.

הַמָּוְתָה יוֹם יוֹם אֲנִי קָרָאתִי
כִּי נִכְסְפָה נַפְשִׁי לְשַׁנּוֹת טַעַם
לֹא אֵדְעָה מָה אַחֲרִית הַזַּעַם
יוּאָר וְיאֹבַד יוֹם בְּבֵיתוֹ בָאתִי.

אֶרְאֶה שְׁכֵנְתִּי בֵּין שְׁלשִׁים חֹדֶשׁ
שָׁלשׁ פְּעַמִים בַּעֲלִים קָבָרָה
כָּל הַשְּׁכֵנוֹת אוֹמְרוֹת אַשְׁרֵיהָ.

הִיא חִלְּלָה אֵלִים וְשָׂרֵי קֹדֶשׁ
הִיא כַלְּבִיָּא בֵּין אֲרָיוֹת גָּרָה
וּבְתוֹךְ כְּפִירִים רִבְּתָה גוּרֶיהָ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Zeh li shenatáyim ‘ashér nasáti
Báʕal ve-ʕodó ḥai ve-‘éin li nóʕam
Yamút be-ḥéitz barák u-mi-kol ráʕam
‘Az bein benót ha-ḥein ‘ehí saráti.

Ha-mávtah yom yom ‘aní karáti
Ki nikhsefáh nafshí leshanót táʕam
Lo ‘eidʕáh mah ‘aḥarít ha-záʕam
Yu’ár ve-yovád yom be-veitó váti.

‘Er’éh shekheintí bein shloshím ḥódesh
Shalósh peʕamím baʕalím kavárah
Kol ha-shekheinót ‘omrót ‘ashréiha.

Hi ḥileláh ‘eilím ve-saréi kódesh
Hi khalviyá bein ‘arayót gárah
U-ve-tókh kefirím ribtáh guréha.

May 112013
 

Hey, I know that guy!

Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
The Day That I Called on My Friend

The day that I called on my friend to give aid,
  Quick as a bird from his nest he drew near;1
The day that I called him that he might aid me,
  He fell silent as snakes that seal off the ear.2.
Like the dog of a man who makes works out of iron,
  Whose home and hearth are the forge he appears:
Who sleeps and who naps through the sound of the hammer;
  Who wakes up at mealtime — his teeth he can hear!

עמנואל הרומי
דוד יום קראתיהו

 
דּוֹד יוֹם קְרָאתִיהוּ לְעֶזְרָתוֹ
 גָּז חִיש כְּצִפּוֹר מִמְּרוֹם קִנּוֹ
אַךְ יוֹם לְעֶזְרָתִי קְרָאתִיהוּ
 הֶחְרִישׁ כְּפֶתֶן יַאֲטֵם אָזְנוֹ
נִדְמֶה לְכֶלֶב אִישׁ חֲרַשׁ בַּרְזֶל
 בֵּית הוֹלְמִים שִׁבְתּוֹ וּמִשְׁכָּנוֹ
יִישַׁן לְקוֹל פַּטִּישׁ וְיֵרָדֵם
 יִיקַץ לְעֵת אֹכֶל לְקוֹל שִׁנּוֹ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Dod yom keratíhu le-ʕezrató
Gaz ḥish ke-tzipór mi-meróm kinó
‘Akh yom le-ʕezratí keratíhu
Heḥerísh ke-féten ya’atéim ‘oznó
Nidméh le-khélev ‘ish ḥarásh barzél
Beit holmím shivtó u-mishkanó
Yishán le-kól patísh ve-yeiradéim
Yikátz le-ʕeit ‘ókhel le-kól shinó.

  1. Psalm 90:10.
  2. Psalm 58:5
Jan 222013
 

Flight-light-white-bright and rise-skies-guise-eyes may seem like the romantic sonnet equivalent of rhyme-biter’s rhymes, to use the technical prosodic term, but I actually didn’t go too far off the Hebrew-original reservation. After several hundred years of English sonnetry, this may seem a little played out, but remember, few are as dope as Immanuel, who was doing it when it was still so fresh and so clean-clean.

Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
Who’d Believe, O My Fawn

Who’d believe, O my fawn, that your two eyes take flight
And cloaked in a whirlwind towards heaven they rise?
For I see them at dusk, in the evening skies,
And I see them by day, in your face’s clear light.

My spirit is hung on your earrings, so bright,
For in them I see Egypt’s sorcery’s guise.
And I’ll always see you, desire of my eyes,
In the stars of your dawn, and your teeth, so hail-white!

I ask, graceful doe, that you tell me outright:
Are your eyes heaven’s stars, taken captive by day,
And by night once more unto the heavens then thrust?

Or are they the stars’ likeness, while your face’s light
Is the like of the spheres up on high? I daresay
Beside you, all the does are mere droplets and dust.

עמנואל הרומי
מי האמין עפרה

 
מִי הֶאֱמִין עָפְרָה אֲשֶׁר עֵינַיִךְ
הֵם יַעֲלוּ בַסַּעֲרָה שָׁמַיִם
כִּי אֶחֱזֵם שַׁחַק בְּבֵין עַרְבַּיִם
וָאֶחֱזֵם יוֹמָם בְּאוֹר פָּנַיִךְ.
 
חַיַּי תְּלוּיִים בַּעֲגִיל אָזְנַיִךְ
כִּי אֶחֱזֶה בּוֹ מַעֲשֵׂה מִצְרַיִם
עוֹד אֶחֱזֶה בָּךְ תַּאֲוַת עֵינַיִם
עַל כּוֹכְבֵי שַׁחְרֵךְ בְּרַד שִׁנַּיִךְ.
 
אֶשְׁאַל צְבִיַּת חֵן הֲאִם עֵינַיִךְ
הֵם כּוֹכְבֵי שַׁחַק וְתִקְחִים בִּשְׁבִי
יוֹמָם וְלַיְלָה יַעֲלוּ בַשַּׁחַק?
 
אוֹ הֵם דְּמוּת כּוֹכָב וְאוֹר פָּנַיִךְ
דִּמְיוֹן גְּלִילֵי רוֹם? אֲשֶׁר כָּל הַצְּבִ־
יּוֹת לָךְ כְּמוֹ מַר מִדְּלִי וּכְשַׁחַק!
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Mi he’emín ʕofráh ‘ashér ʕeináyikh
Heim yaʕalú va-saʕaráh shamáyim
Ki ‘eḥezéim sháḥak be-véin ʕarbáyim
Va-‘eḥezéim yomám be-‘ór panáyikh.

Ḥayái teluím ba-ʕagíl ‘oznáyikh
Ki ‘eḥezéh bo maʕaséih mitzráyim
ʕod ‘eḥezéh bakh ta’avát ʕeináyim
ʕal kokhvéi shaḥréikh berád shináyikh.

‘Esh’ál tzeviyát ḥein ha-‘ím ʕeináyikh
Heim kokhvéi sháḥak ve-tikḥím bishví
Yomám ve-láilah yaʕalú va-sháḥak?

‘O heim demút kokháv ve-‘ór panáyikh
Dimyón geliléi rom? ‘Ashér kol ha-tzeví-
yot lakh kemó mar midlí u-khe-sháḥak!

Jan 032013
 

See, it wasn’t all bawdiness, wine and the wittiest of sinat ḥinam. He had a sweet side too. As a paean to a passing girl, I like to think of it as a medieval Italian Hebrew “Girl from Ipanema,” only somewhat more vivid.

Immanuel of Rome (1261 – 1328)
If That Doe of a Girl

If that doe of a girl had proudly walked by
So that even God’s sons could witness her light
Towards her glory God’s stars would smolder in spite
She’d drag with a hook all the hosts on high

If she’d walked on her path hunched over and squat
The dwellers of dust would make haste to draw near
Their corpses would live and the dead would show cheer
‘Til ‘twixt the dead they would divide a new lot.1

And so with great wisdom this beauty decides
To walk the same path that she walks, to abide
For she’s always stood firm in reason’s domain

Not due to some flaw, some lack of virtue inside
For she is all beauty, yet chooses to stride
Upon the heights of grace; and so, she will reign.

עמנואל הרומי
לו קוממיות הלכה היעלה

 
לוּ קוֹמְמִיּוּת הָלְכָה הַיַּעֲלָה
עַד־כִּי מְאוֹרֶיהָ בְּנֵי־אֵל יֶחֱזוּ
לִקְרַאת כְּבוֹדָהּ כּוֹכְבֵי־אֵל רָגְזוּ
תִּמְשֹׁךְ בְּחַכָּה כָּל־גְּדוּדֵי מַעֲלָה.
 
אוֹ אִם שְׁחוֹחַ הָלְכָה עַל־מַעֲלָ־
תָהּ שֹׁכְנֵי־עָפָר לְמֻלָהּ נֶחְפְּזוּ
יִחְיוּ נְבֵלָתָם וּמֵתִים עָלְזוּ
עַד־בֵּין עֲצוּמִים יַחְלְקוּ עוֹד נַחֲלָה.
 
עַל־כֵּן יְפֵיפִיָה בְּחָכְמָה בָחֲרָה
לֵכֶת עֲלֵי־דֶרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר הִיא הוֹלְכָה
כִּי הִיא בְּפֶלֶךְ הַתְּבוּנָה תּוֹמְכָה
 
לֹא מִפְּנֵי מוּם בָּהּ וּמַעְלָה חָסְרָה
כִּי הִיא כְּלִילַת הַיֹּפִי אַף־דוֹרְכָה
עַל־בָּמֳתֵי הַחֵן וְעַל־כֵּן מוֹלְכָה.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Lu komemiyút halkháh ha-yaʕaláh
ʕad ki me’oréha benéi ‘eil yeḥezú
Likrát kevodáh kokhevéi ‘eil ragzú
Timshókh be-ḥakáh kol gedudéi maʕaláh.

‘O ‘im sheḥóaḥ halkháh ʕal maʕalá-
tah shokhnéi ʕafár le-muláh neḥpezú
Yiḥyú neveilatám u-meitím ʕalzú
ʕad bein ʕatzumím yaḥlekú ʕod naḥaláh.

ʕal kein yefeifiyáh be-ḥokhmáh vaḥaráh
Léikhet ʕaléi dérekh ‘ashér hi holkháh
Ki hi be-félekh ha-tevunáh tomkháh

Lo mi-penéi mum bah u-maʕláh ḥasráh
Ki hi kelilát ha-yófi ‘af dorkháh
ʕal bamotéi ha-ḥéin ve-ʕal-kéin molkháh.

  1. I’m not totally sure about this line. I think Immanuel may be playing with Isaiah 53:12 and the potential double meaning of the word ʕatzumim. Usually, as in Isaiah, it means “mighty” or “strong,” (“he will divide the spoils with the strong”). But it can also could potentially mean “those with closed eyes,” as in “the dead.” I think the idea here is that since the girl in question is so beautiful that she can wake the dead, the revived will have a new inheritance (or portion, or lot – naḥalah) divided amongst them – that is, a new “lease on life” (or lot in life). I could be wrong.