May 092014
 

Can it have been more than a year since our last ibn Ezra tajnis? That’s unpossible!

Anyway, while the meaning of this one is clear (he likes wine! A lot!), the words pidyon and kofer are sort of difficult to translate, both being related to the Temple service. Pidyon is a price paid to the priests to redeem someone or something that would normally belong to the Temple; traditional Jews today still practice pidyon ha-ben, in which a firstborn non-Levite son is symbolically redeemed from a priest for a small (nowadays generally symbolic) amount of money; when the Temple was still standing, this was probably a major source of revenue. A kofer can be either the Biblical poll tax or the expiation-price to clear oneself of a minor sin. Again, the words are hard to translate, but the general sense is clear.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
I’d Gladly Be Sold

I’d gladly be sold to the planters of vines
  and be an offering to the pruners and pickers
Beneath the presser, as soon as he tires
  and weakens, I’d give him the spirit of princes.

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
אהי פדיון לנוטעי הזמורה

 
אֱהִי פִדְיוֹן לְנֹטְעֵי הַזְּמוֹרָה / וְכֹפֶר לַאֲשֶׁר יִזְמוֹר וְיִבְצֹר
וְתַחַת דָּשׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְרֹךְ וְרוּחַ / נְגִידִים בּוֹ בְּעֵת יַחְלֹש וְיִבְצֹר.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Ehí pidyón le-notʕéi ha-zemoráh / ve-khófer la’ashér yizmór ve-yivtzór
Ve-táḥat dash ‘ashér yidrókh ve-rúaḥ / negidím bo be-ʕéir yaḥlósh ve-yivtzór.

Apr 182013
 

What can I say. Spring is in the air. I mean, I think it is, anyway. I try not to go outside if I can help it.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
A Colored Coat the Garden Wore

A colored coat the garden wore,
  And gilded garb its grassy kin.
Each tree was wrapped in checkered robes
  To show all eyes delights within.
The blossoms, new, set out with mirth
  Towards Time renewed as he strode in.
Yet all the lily passed as king;
  For raised on high his throne had been.
He changes now his prison clothes,
  Set free from ‘twixt his leafy pen.
Whoever drinks wine somewhere else,
  That very man will bear his sin.

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
כתנות פסים לבש הגן

 
כָּתְנוֹת פַּסִּים לָבַש הַגָּן / וּכְסוּת רִקְמָה מַדֵּי דִשְׁאוֹ
וּמְעִיל תַּשְׁבֵּץ עָטָה כָל עֵץ / וּלְכָל עַיִן הֶרְאָה פִלְאוֹ
כָּל צִיץ חָדָשׁ לִזְמָן חֻדַּשׁ / יָצָא שׂוֹחֵק לִקְרַאת בּוֹאוֹ
אַךְ לִפְנֵיהֶם שׁוֹשָׁן עָבַר / מֶלֶךְ כִּי עָל הוּרַם כִּסְאוֹ
יָצָא מִבֵּין מִשְׁמַר עָלָיו / וַיְשַׁנֶּה אֵת בִּגְדֵי כִלְאוֹ
מִי לֹא יִשְׁתֶּה יֵינוֹ עָלָיו / הָאִישׁ הַהוּא יִשָּׂא חֶטְאוֹ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Kotnót pasím lavásh ha-gán / ukhsút rikmáh madéi dish’ó
Umʕíl tashbéitz ʕatáh kol ʕeitz / u-le-khól ʕáyin her’ah fil’ó
Kol tzitz ḥadásh lizmán ḥudásh / yatzá soḥéik likrát bo’ó
‘Akh lifneihém shoshán ʕavár / mélekh ki ʕal hurám kis’ó
Yatzá mi-béin mishmár ʕaláv / va-yeshanéh ‘eit bigdéi khil’ó
Mi lo yishtéh yeinó ʕaláv / ha-‘ísh ha-hú yisá ḥet’ó.

Apr 132013
 

A springtime tajnis. Because why not. It’s been awhile.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
The Cloud Has Nursed the Garden

The cloud has nursed the garden
  And pummeled its furrows to dust,
Until the mouths of blossoms laughed
  As heaven’s eyes were crying.

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
הנה העב היניק הגן

 
הִנֵּה הָעָב הֵינִיק הַגַּן / וּתְלָמָיו כְּאָבָק שָׁחַק,
עַד כִּי שָׂחְקוּ פִיּוֹת צִצָּיו / הָעֵת בָּכוּ עֵינֵי שַׁחַק.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Hinéih ha-ʕáv heiník ha-gán / u-telamáv ke-‘avák shaḥák,
ʕad ki saḥku fiyót tzitzáv / ha-ʕeit bakhú ʕeinéi sháḥak.

Feb 202013
 

Not an awesome day. Tajnis.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
If Time Should Make Merry

If Time should make merry or dance with you
  Don’t dare to believe him — he’s fooled you!
He’s only a net for men’s hearts, and won’t leave you
  ’Til he brings forth the maggots within you.

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
אם הזמן יצחק לך

 
אִם הַזְּמָן יִצְחַק לָךְ, אַל תְּהִי מַאְמִין,
 אוֹ אִם יְהִי רוֹקֵד – כִּי אוֹתְךָ רִמָּה!
רֶשֶׁת לְבָבוֹת הוּא עִמָּךְ, וְלֹא יִרְגַּע
 עַד כִּי יְהִי מֵשִׁיב אֶת גּוּפְךָ רִמָּה.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

‘Im ha-zemán yitzḥák lakh, ‘al tehí ma’amín, / ‘o ‘im yehí rokéid — ki ‘otkhá rimáh!
Réshet levavót hu ʕimákh, ve-ló yirgáʕ / ʕad ki yehí meishív ‘et gufkhá rimáh.

Feb 092013
 

Oh, those ephebes. Always making the poets cry.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
My Tears Will Flow

My tears will flow forth from the warmth of my heart
  Which into twelve pieces was brutally torn1
To cry without rest for this dearest of sons,
  For this child of delights,2 by law I am sworn!

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
דמעי יגרו

 
דְּמָעַי יִגְּרוּ מֵחֹם לְבָבִי / אֲשֶׁר נִקְרַע שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר קְרָעִים
וְחֹק מֵאֵין דֳּמִי תָּמִיד לְבַכּוֹת / לְבֵן יַקִּיר וְיֶלֶד שַׁעֲשׁוּעִים.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Demaʕái yigrú mei-ḥóm levaví / ‘ashér nikráʕ shnéim ʕasár keraʕím
Ve-ḥók me-‘éin domí tamíd levakót / le-véin yakír ve-yéled shaʕashuʕím.

  1. 1 Kings 11:30.
  2. Jeremiah 31:20.
Jan 312013
 

A pretty little poem about (according to the superscription in the diwan) a field of violets. And also about being hungover.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
And Early

And early, well-smitten by amity’s wine,
  unable to ramble, we rose
Unto the meadow whose winds scattered spices
  sweet-scented like cassia or cloves1
The sun had embroidered its surface with blossoms
  which over it spread azure clothes.

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
והשכמנו

 
וְהִשְׁכַּמְנוּ הֲלוּמֵי יֵין יְדִידוֹת / וְאֵין בָּנוּ לְהִתְהַלֵּךְ יְכֹלֶת
אֱלֵי כַר נָפְחוּ רוּחֵי בְשָׂמָיו / וְהֵרִיחוּ כְּקִדָּה אוֹ שְׁחֵלֶת
וְשֶׁמֶשׁ רָקְמָה פָנָיו בְּצִצִּים / וְעָלָיו פָּרְשׂוּ בֶגֶד תְּכֵלֶת.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Ve-hishkámnu haluméi yein yedidót / ve-‘éin bánu lehithaléikh yekhólet
‘Eléi khar nafḥú ruḥéi vesamáv / ve-heiríḥu ke-kidáh ‘o sheḥéilet
Ve-shémesh rakmáh fanáv be-tzitzím / ve-ʕaláv parsú béged tekhéilet.

  1. Sheḥeilet. An ingredient in the Temple incense whose exact identity is highly, highly disputed. I would mock whoever composed that lengthy and exhaustively footnoted Wikipedia entry on something so utterly inconsequential, but then again, I translate Hebrew poetry on the Internet. In any case, I went with “cloves,” because they’re nice-smelling, consonant and in keeping, more or less, with the rhyme scheme. And they turned out to be a potential candidate according to Rav Wikipedia anyway!
Dec 102012
 

The Torrent of Tajnis continues. The Key Word in this one is the verb shevi, which can be either the feminine imperative of the verb yashav, to sit (or dwell, or stay), or a word meaning “captivity.” This one features one of those tricks of perspective: it’s not the fawn who’s going anywhere, but rather the poet himself.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
To the Departing Fawn

To the departing fawn I spoke these words:
  ”By love’s life, stay with me!”
She answered, “Fool! How could you stay?
  You go into captivity!”

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
שחתי לעפרה נוסעה

 
שַׂחְתִּי לְעָפְרָה נוֹסְעָה / עִמִּי, בְּחֵי אַהַב, שְׁבִי
וַתַּעֲנֶה פֶּתִי, וְאֵיךְ / תֵּשֵׁב – וְאַתְּ הוֹלֵךְ שְׁבִי

י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Sáḥti le-ʕofráh nosʕáh / ʕimí, be-ḥéi ‘aháv, sheví!
Va-taʕanéh, péti, ve-‘éikh / teishév — ve-‘át holéikh sheví?

Dec 052012
 

I’m so tired, you guys. But even when I have midrashic commentaries to translate or naps to take, I cannot forsake the Hebrew poem. So have a tajnis, dammit. This is a clever one. The Key Word in this one is the verb raʕah, which can mean “to shepherd” and “to befriend.”

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
How My Heart Now Yearns

How my heart now yearns for the proud gazelle —
  Ere his birth, it was his shepherd,
Since the day he left, his eyes taste no sleep,
  And he befriends the heavens’ fool.1

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
לבי לבי הומה לצבי

 
לִבִּי לִבִּי הוֹמֶה לִצְבִי / טֶרֶם נִבְרָא הוּא לוֹ רוֹעֶה,
מִיּוֹם נוּדוֹ לֹא טָעַם נוּם / עֵינוֹ , וּכְסִיל שַׁחַק רוֹעֶה.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Libí libí homéh litzví / térem nivrá hu lo roʕéh
Mi-yóm nudó lo taʕám num / ʕeinó u-khesíl sháḥak roʕéh.

  1. This is really clever. Ibn Ezra quotes Proverbs 13:20 (“he who becomes a companion of fools shall be destroyed”) while playing with the dual meaning of kesíl (“fool”), which happens to be the Hebrew name for the constellation Orion — that is, “the heavens’ fool”.
Dec 012012
 

And…just another tajnis. If you take them at their word, these Andalusians tended to fall pretty hard for their waiters. The Key Word is teʕaláh, which means a canal or irrigation ditch and also a remedy or cure. I assume ibn Ezra is referring to the sound of the irrigation streams they must have had running through these drinking gardens the Andalusian poets were so crazy about; I went with “fountain,” because I liked it more. Sue me.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
A Shapely Boy, A Cup of Wine

A shapely boy, a cup of wine, a garden,
  Birdsong and the burble of the fountain’s water —
A lover’s balm, the joy of one who cares, a lilting tune,
  One’s wealth runs out, but the sick man finds a cure.

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
יפה תואר וכוס יין וגנה

 
יְפֵה תֹאַר וְכוֹס יַיִן וְגַנָּה / וְזֶמֶר עוֹף וְקוֹל מֵימֵי תְעָלָה
צְרִי חוֹשֵׁק וְגִיל דּוֹאֵג וְשִׁיר נָד / וְעֹשֶׁר רָשׁ וְלַחוֹלֶה תְעָלָה.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Yeféih tó’ar ve-khós yáyin ve-ganáh / ve-zémer ʕof ve-kol meiméi teʕaláh
Tzerí ḥoshéik ve-gíl do’éig ve-shir nad / ve-ʕósher rash ve-la-ḥoléh teʕaláh.

Nov 272012
 

I just wanted to translate a quick tajnis so I could take a nap. Then this one turned out to be quite difficult. Nothing ever works out for me. Anyway, the Key Word is ʕadí, which means both “jewel” and “mouth.” I tend to translate the medieval poets’ many references to the mouth, whether they call it peh or ʕadí, as “lips,” since in English it sounds alternately childish or vaguely creepy (to me) to talk about kissing someone on the mouth, or how beautiful someone’s mouth is. Languages.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
In the Fawn’s Hand the Glass

In the fawn’s hand the glass will rise like a star
  and the West he shall make like his jewel
And its lights shall shine bright on his cheek, beautified
  in its splendor by his lips’ dazzling glory.

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
יעלה כמו כוכב ביד עופר

 
יַעְלֶה כְּמוֹ כוֹכָב בְּיַד עֹפֶר \ הַכּוֹס וּמַעְרָבוֹ יְשַׁו עֶדְיוֹ
וַזְרְחוּ אוֹרָיו עֲלֵי לֶחְיוֹ \ וַיִּיף בְּהוֹדוֹ מִצְּבִי עֶדְיוֹ.
י

Transliteration/תעתיק:

Yaʕléh kemó khokháv be-yád ʕófer / ha-kós u-maʕravó yesháv ʕedyó
Vazereḥú ‘oráv ʕaléi leḥyó / va-yíf be-hodó mi-tzeví ʕedyó.