Dec 132012
 

I’m painfully tired. But I still could not forsake either of my readers. So the march of daily posts continues with Shlomo Zamir, who we haven’t heard from for awhile, and whose poem “Ukh-she Ne’emar ha-Kol” got a positive message on some Tumblr site. Hooray.

Shlomo Zamir (1929 – )
In the Village

The moon lights up on the horizon
the size of my hand.
A cold wind nips at the earlobe
like a mouse.
The coachman whips with his swishing whip
his pair of running horses.
Scattered in the air, all around,
are chunks of flesh and bone.

שלמה זמיר
בכפר

 
הַסַהַר דוֹלֵק בָּאֹפֶק
בְּגֹדֶל יָדִי.
רוּחַ קָרָה נוֹשֶׁכֶת תְּנוּך-הָאֹזֶן
כּעַכְבָּר.
הָעֶגְלוֹן מַצְלִיף בּשׁוֹטוֹ הַמְאַוֵשׁ
זוּג סוּסָיו הָרָצִים.
נְפֹוצִים בָּאֲוִיר, מִזֶה וּמִזֶה,
נִתְחֵי בָּשָׂר וַעֲצָמוֹת.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ha-sáhar doléik ba-‘ófek
Be-gódel yadí.
Rúaḥ karáh noshékhet tenúkh ha-‘ózen
Ke-ʕakhbár.
Ha-ʕeglón matzlíf be-shotó ha-me’avéish
Zug susím ha-ratzím.
Nefotzím ba-‘avír, mi-zéh u-mi-zéh
Nitḥéi basár u-ʕatzamót.

Oct 202012
 

This pretty much describes Jerusalem, except women in tallit and tefillin tend to get arrested, as opposed to blowing shofars to the clouds. But there’s imagist poetry for you.

Shlomo Zamir (1929 – )
Jerusalem

The crows caw from the mulberry trees
“Re mi fa sol la!”
The street of heretics struggles
with the street of believers.
Believing women, wrapped in tallits and frontlets,
stand on chimneys, sounding shofars to the clouds.
The heretics and believers
hurl stones from the balconies;
And the crows call from tree to tree,
each time they peck a berry:
“Amen! Amen!”

שלמה זמיר
ירושלים

 
עַל הַתּוּתִים מְקַרְקְרִים הָעוֹרְבִים
״רֶה מִי פַא סוֹל לַא!״
רְחוֹב הַכּוֹפְרִים נֶאֱבָק
עִם רְחוֹב הַמַאֲמִינִים.
מַאֲמִינוֹת, עוֹטוֹת טַלִיוֹת וְטוֹטָפוֹת,
עוֹמְדוֹת עַל הָאֲרֻבּוֹת, תּוֹקְעוֹת לָעֲנַנִים בַּשׁוֹפָרִים.
הַכּוֹפְרִים וְהַמַאֲמִינִים
מְיַדִים אֲבָנִים מֵהַמִרְפָּסוֹת;
וְהָעוֹרְבִים קוֹרְאִים מֵעֵץ לְעֵץ,
מִדֵי נַקְרָם תּוּת:
״אָמֵן! אָמֵן!״
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

ʕal ha-tutím mekarkerím ha-ʕorvím
“Reh mi fa sol la!”
Reḥóv ha-kofrím ne’evák
ʕim reḥóv ha-ma’aminím.
Ma’aminót, ʕotót taliyót ve-totafót,
ʕomdót ʕal ‘arubót. tokʕót la-ʕananím ba-shofarím.
Ha-kofrím ve-ha-ma’aminím
Meyadím ‘avaním mei-ha-mirpesót;
Ve-ha-ʕorvím kor’ím mei-ʕéitz le-ʕéitz,
Mi-déi nakrám tut:
“‘Améin! ‘Améin!”

Oct 112012
 

As far as I can tell from Google, font of all the world’s information, Shlomo Zamir has not really been translated outside of a poem or two appearing in the odd collection. The biographical information online is pretty scanty even in Hebrew, but I did find and translate this:

An Israeli writer and poet, born in Iraq in 1929.

Zamir was educated in Jewish general education institutions – including the French “Alliance” school. He arrived in Israel in 1950.

Zamir is a product of different cultures: Anglo-American, French, Hebrew and Arabic. His own poetic style is close to imagist poetry, which demanded that poetry be liberated from rhyme, meter and traditional poetic forms, and instead be organized around images.

His poetry is quite varied in its themes and stands out for its colorfulness. The Israeli poet Hamutal Bar-Yosef1 said regarding his first book, “The Voice Behind the Branch”: “The special way in which Zamir constructs his works is what imparts to his poems their power and impressiveness for the reader…the words are simple, the sentence structure free, without surrendering to any predetermined external rhythm…the hand that produces the images is as steady as that of an arabesque artist.”

So there you go.

Shlomo Zamir (1929 – )
And When All Has Been Said

And when all has been said,
You’ll remain to be said;
And when, with violin, the last waltz has been sung,
You’ll remain to be sung.

I sense all your feelings and musings;
Sometimes, in my room, when a wound gapes in my body
and bleeds,
I know that your dress was torn.

שלמה זמיר
וכשנאמר הכל

 
וּכְשֶׁנֶאֱמַר הַכֹּל,
תִּשְׁתַּיְרִי אַתְּ לְהֵאָמֵר;
וּכְשֶׁיוּשַׁר בְּכִנוֹר הַוַאלְס הָאַחֲרוֹן,
תִּשְׁתַּיְרִי אַתְּ לְהוּשֵׁר.
 
אֲנִי חָשׁ בְּכָל רְגָשַׁיִךְ וְהִרְהוּרַיִךְ;
עִתִּים, בְּחֶדְרִי, כְּשֶׁנִפְעַר פֶּצַע בְּגוּפִי
וְשוֹתֵת דָם,
אֲנִי יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁשִׂמְלָתֶךְ נִקְרְעָה.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ukh-she-ne’emár ha-kól
Tishtayerí ‘at lehei’améir;
Ukh-she-yushár be-khinór ha-váls ha-‘aḥarón,
Tishtayerí ‘at lehushéir.

‘Aní ḥash be-khól regasháyikh ve-hirhuráyikh;
ʕitím, be-ḥedrí, keshé-nifʕár pétzaʕ be-gufí
Ve-shotéit dam,
‘Aní yodéiʕa she-simlatéikh nikreʕah.

  1. I know her!
Oct 102012
 

Like a lot of mystical piyut, this poem is framed as a conversation between two lovers (the model for which is of course the Song of Songs). And like any good mystical poetry, whether by Jewish Kabbalists or Muslim Sufis, the ecstasy of the divine encounter is expressed as a heady combination of the frankly erotic, the puzzlingly esoteric, and the slightly drunken. Since English isn’t gendered in the manner of Hebrew, I’ve set the female speaker’s lines in italics.

Shalom Shabazi (1619 – 1720?)
Graceful Doe

A graceful doe supports me in exile
And here in her bosom she’ll lodge me.
To drink from her cup I am always prepared,
She mingles her wine with my lees.
Before me, my friends, drink and be drunk,
Rouse the reason that’s sleeping within me.
There in her palace sits the daughter of kings,
Her table ready for those who are with me.
For every lover there comes a time to part,
But with ardor my love shall recall me.
He adorns his lady with grace and with kindness,
In paths of grace and of kindness he leads me.

For my beloved I spread out the clouds of the heavens,
My desire she never denies me.
Fifty are her gates, solid and firm, and with
The favor of Leah her wisdom sustains me.
She arouses Rachel’s love for her children,
Unto the tenth kingdom’s secret she’ll raise me.
God, hasten to bring unto thine people salvation,
And may my tongue be made pure within me.
Thy great peace shall encompass those whole of heart,
The sons of the pure man, a charm unto thee.

שלום שבזי / سالم الشبزي
איילת חן

 
אַיֶלֶת חֵן בְּגָלוּת תִּסְמְכֵנִי
וּבַלַּיְלָה בְּתוֹךְ חֵיקָהּ מְלוֹנִי
לְכוֹס יֵינָהּ אֲנִי תָּמִיד מְזוּמָּן
וְנִתְעָרַב חֲמַד יֵינָהּ בְּיֵינִי
שְׁתוּ דוֹדִים לְעוּמָּתִי וְשִׁכְרוּ
וְהָעִירוּ לְשֵׂכֶל רַעֲיוֹנִי
בְּהֵיכַל בַּת מְלָכִים הַכְּבוּדָה
וְשׁוּלְחָנָהּ מְזוּמָּן לַהֲמוֹנִי
זְמָן הִפְרִיד לְכָל רֵעִים וְדוֹדִים
אֲבָל דּוֹדִי בְּאַהֲבָה יִזְכְּרֵנִי
יְקַשֵּׁר חֵן וְחֶסֶד עַל גְּבֶרֶת
בְּמַעְגַּל חֵן וְחֶסֶד יִמְשְׁכֵנִי
מְפַרְשֵׁז בַּעֲנַן עָבֵי שְׁחָקִים
לְרַעְיָתִי וְהִיא תָפִיק רְצוֹנִי
שְׁעָרֶיהָ חֲמִשִּׁים הֵם קְבוּעִים
זְכוּת לֵאָה בְּבִינָה תִסְעֲדֵנִי
תְּעוֹרֵר אַהֲבַת רָחֵל לְבָנִים
בְּסוֹד מַלְכוּת עֲשִׂירִית תַּעֲלֵנִי
אֱלֹהִים חִישׁ לְעַמֶּךָ יְשׁוּעָה
בְּעֵת רָצוֹן תְּצַחְצֵחַ גְּרוֹנִי
שְׁלוּמֵי לֵב בְּרוֹב שָלוֹם תְּסוֹבֵב
בְּנֵי אִישׁ תָּם סְגוּלַת אַב הֲמוֹנִי
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Ayélet ḥein be-galút tismekhéini
U-ve-láilah be-tókh ḥeikáh meloní
Le-khós yeináh ‘aní tamíd mezumán
Ve-nitʕaréiv ḥemád yeináh be-yeiní
Shetú dodím le-ʕumatí ve-shikhrú
Ve-haʕíru le-séikhel raʕayoní
Be-heikhál bat melakhím ha-kevudáh
Ve-shulḥanáh mezumán la-hamoní
Zemán hifríd le-khól reiʕím ve-dodím
‘Avál dodí be-‘ahaváh yizkeréini
Yekashér ḥein ve-ḥesed ʕal gevéret
Be-maʕgál ḥein ve-ḥesed yimshekhéini
Mefarshéiz ba-ʕanán ʕavéi sheḥakím
Le-raʕyatí ve-hí tafík retzoní
Sheʕaréha ḥamishím heim kevuʕím
Zekhút lei’áh be-vináh tisʕadéini
Teʕoréir ‘ahavát raḥeil le-vaním
Be-sód malkhút ʕasirít taʕaléini
‘Elohím ḥish le-ʕamékha yeshuʕáh
Be-ʕéit ratzón tetzaḥtzéiaḥ geroní
Sheluméi leiv be-róv shalóm tesovéiv
Benéi ‘ish tam segulát ‘av hamoní

Sep 292012
 

Im Tahpetzah

The rabbi-king of the Yemeni-Jewish poet-kabbalists, Shabazi writes in an elliptical, allusive and highly condensed style that can make translation an interesting puzzle. I’ll admit to not fully understanding the line “galgal ve-‘adrikhal melavim lo” – the words can be translated easily enough, but I have the feeling I’m missing some key allusion or context. If anyone out there knows, please share.

This particular piyut happens to have been recorded by the occasionally compelling Israeli pan-Jewish world music collective the Idan Raichel Project. Click the thingy below to hear it – this partial version of “Im Taḥpetzah” starts at the nineteenth line (“luḥót shnáyim heim be-yósher nikhtevú“) and runs through the twenty-sixth (“kabéitz pezuréinu ‘ashér nitpazrú“). I must admit that the Zionist in me always appreciated how Raichel’s version ends with the poem’s plaintive supplication for the ingathering of the exiles, which also serves Raichel’s cross-Diasporic mélange well. As befits Yemenite piyut, the Yemeni-Israeli singers of Raichel’s “Im Taḥpetzah” deliver it in the particularly badass Yemenite liturgical accent, which is a treat (although who told them they could have a shva carry stress?). Have fun.

Idan Raichel - Im Taḥpetzah

Shalom Shabazi (1619 – 1720?)
If You Should Desire

If you should desire, son of man, to know the most select secrets
Obtain for yourself a fellow, and dear friends
So that your heart might live, and your soul rejoice
That discernment and spirit might be one
Clothe yourself in humility from youthful days onward
Despise the counsel of those prideful in their ignorance
Your good name shall go forth and you shall gain your desire
Seek truth in the volumes the sages composed
The doctrine of the wise, received from their ancestors
On the day they encircled and thronged about Sinai, in their wisdom
The father of all prophets ascended to the heights
Towards the fog his footsteps hurried
Graciously accompanied by the heavenly sphere and the Architect
He ascended on high and opened every closed gate
Facing toward Sinai, my tribes were assembled
And the angels on high advanced with banners
Whirling flames came down from the Presence
Thunder, lightning and cloud were joined
Two tablets are they, written forthrightly
On which are ten commandments, examined and witnessed
They heard my voice, but you will not
The commandments flow from the mouth of the Mighty; and so was kept the Torah
Blessed is he who has merited to behold his congregation
Purity lies within the Torah, and from it souls prosper
Recall, Lord of All, the grace of your Torah
Gather your dispersed, who were scattered
Straighten our way for the sake of your kindness
For loving-kindness overwhelms those who fear you

שלום שבזי / سالم الشبزي
אם תחפצה

 
אִם תַּחְפְּצָה בֶן אִישׁ לְסוֹדוֹת נִבְחֲרוּ
תִּקְנֶה לְךָ חָבֵר וְרֵעִים יָקְרוּ
בַּעְבוּר יְחִי לִבָּךְ וְתִשְׂמַח נַפְשְׁךָ
שֵׂכֶל וְהַנֶּפֶשׁ בְּטוֹב יִתְחַבְּרוּ
וּלְבַשׁ עֲנָוָה מִיְּמֵי בַּחְרוּתְךָ
וּמְאַס עֲצַת רֵיקִים אֲשֶׁר יִתְיָהֲרוּ
שֵׁם טוֹב לְךָ יֵצֵא וְתַשִּׁיג חֶפְצְךָ
חַפֵּשׂ בְּמַסֶּכְתּוֹת גְּאוֹנִים חִבְּרוּ
מִשְׁנַת חֲכָמִים מֵאֲבוֹתָם קִבְּלוּ
יוֹם סָבְבוּ סִינַי בְּשִׁכְלָם נָהֲרוּ
עָלָה אֲבִי כָל הַנְּבִיאִים עַד מְרוֹם
אֶל הָעֲרָפֶל פְּעָמָיו מִהֲרוּ
וְגַלְגַּל וְאַדְרִיכַל מְלַוִּים לוֹ בְּחֵן
עָלָה וּפָתַח כָּל שְׁעָרִים נִסְגְּרוּ
נוֹכַח פְּנֵי סִינַי שְׁבָטַי נִקְהֲלוּ
גַּם מַלְאֲכֵי מַעְלָה דְּגָלִים עָבְרוּ
אֵשׁ יָרְדָה מֵהַשְּׁכִינָה סָחֲרָה
קוֹלוֹת וּבְרָקִים וְעָנָן נֶחְבְּרוּ
לוּחוֹת שְׁנַיִם הֵם בְּיוֹשֶׁר נִכְתְּבוּ
בָּם דִּבְּרוֹת עֶשֶׁר בְּעֵדוּת נֶחְקְרוּ
שָׁמְעוּ לְאָנֹכִי וְלֹא יִהְיֶה לְךָ
מִפִּי גְבוּרָה הֵם וְתוֹרָה שָׁמְרוּ
בָּרוּךְ אֲשֶׁר זִכָּה עֲדָתוֹ לַחֲזוֹת
תּוֹרָה תְמִימָה בָה נְפָשׁוֹת כָּשְׁרוּ
זָכְרָה אֲדוֹן הַכֹּל לְחֵן תּוֹרָתְךָ
קַבֵּץ פְּזוּרֵינוּ אֲשֶׁר נִתְפַּזְּרוּ
יַשֵּׁר דְּרָכֵינוּ לְמַעַן חַסְדְּךָ
כִּי עַל יְרֵאֶיךָ חֲסָדִים גָּבְרוּ
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Im taḥpetzáh, ben ‘ish, le-sodót nivḥarú
Tiknéh lekhá ḥavéir u-reiʕím yakrú
Baʕvúr yeḥí libákh ve-tismáḥ nafshekhá
Séikhel ve-ha-néfesh be-tóv yitḥabrú
U-levásh ʕanaváh mi-yeméi baḥrutekhá
U-me’ás ʕatzát reikím ‘ashér yityaharú
Sheim tov lekhá yeitzéi ve-tasíg ḥeftzekhá
Ḥapéis be-masekhtót ge’oním ḥibrú
Mishnát ḥakhamím mei-‘avotám kiblú
Yom savevú sinái be-sikhlám naharú
ʕaláh ‘aví khol ha-nevi’ím ʕad maróm
‘El ha-ʕarafél peʕamáv miharú
Ve-galgál ve-‘adrikhál melavím lo be-ḥéin
ʕaláh u-fatáḥ kol sheʕarím nisgerú
Nokháḥ penéi sinái shevatái niqhalú
Gam mal’akhéi máʕlah degalím ʕavrú
‘Eish yardáh mei-ha-shekhináh saḥaráh
Kolót u-verakím ve-ʕanán neḥberú
Luḥót shnáyim heim be-yósher nikhtevú
Bam dibrót ʕéser be-ʕeidút neḥkerú
Shamʕú le-‘anokhí ve-ló yihiyéh lekhá
Mi-pí ha-gevuráh heim ve-toráh shamrú
Barúkh ‘ashér zikáh ʕadató laḥazót
Toráh temimáh bah nefashót kashrú
Zakhráh ‘adon ha-kól le-ḥein toratekhá
Kabéitz pezuréinu ‘ashér nitpazrú
Yashéir derakhéinu lemáʕan ḥasdekhá
Ki ʕal yerei’ékha ḥasadím gavrú