Avraham Ben Yitzhak: A Lonely Few Say (from Hebrew)

A Lonely Few Say
By Avraham Ben Yitzhak
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click here to hear me recite the Hebrew

"Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge"
-Psalms [19:2]

Day unto day leaves a dimmed sun, and leaves;
And night mourns for night all night long
And summer after summer is gathered up with fall's leaves
And the world in its sorrow gives song

And tomorrow we shall die with word no more in us
And shall stand at the gate at its closing, as on our last of days,1
And the heart rejoicing - for God has drawn us close-
Shall tremble in fear of betrayal and repent of its ways.

Day unto day bears a burning sun westward
And night after night lifts stars to atone.
On the lips of a lonely few, poetry pauses.
We part seven ways and return by the One.2


Notes:

1- An echo of a phrase from the prayer that concludes the Yom Kippur service- "Open for us the gate at the time of the closing of gates, unto which the day has turned"

2- An allusion to the invocation Shma Israel, wherein God is referred to as "the One."

The Original:

בודדים אומרים
אברהם בן-יצחק

יוֹם לְיוֹם יַנְחִיל שֶׁמֶשׁ דּוֹעֶכֶת
וְלַיְלָה עַל לַיְלָה יְקוֹנֵן.
וְקַיִץ אַחַר קַיִץ יֵאָסֵף בַּשַּׁלֶּכֶת 
וְעוֹלָם מִצַּעֲרוֹ מִתְרוֹנֵן.

וּמָחָר נָמוּת, וְאֵין הַדִּבֵּר בָּנוּ,
וּכְיוֹם צֵאתֵנוּ נַעֲמֹד לִפְנַי שַׁעַר עִם נְעִילָה.
וְלֵב כִּי יַעֲלֹז: הֵן אֱלֹהִים קֵרְבָנוּ,
וְהִתְנֶחָם וְחָרַד מִפַּחַד הַמְּעִילָה.

יוֹם לְיוֹם יִשָּׂא שֶׁמֶשׁ בּוֹעֶרֶת
וְלַיְלָה אַחַר לַיְלָה יִשְׁפֹּךְ כּוֹכָבִים,
עַל שִׂפְתֵי בוֹדְדִים שִׁירָה נֶעֱצֶרֶת:
בְּשֶׁבַע דְּרָכִים נִתְפַּלֵּג וּבְאֶחָד אָנוּ שָׁבִים.


This poem can work about as well either in Sephardic or in Ashkenazi pronunciation.

The Sephardic (which is what I use in the recording)

Bodedim Omrim
Avraham Ben Yitsḥak

Yom leyom yanḥil šémeš doˁéxet
Veláyla ˁal láyla yekonen
Vekáyits aḥar káyits ye'asef bašaléxet
Veˁolam mitsaˁaro mitronen

Umaḥar namut ve'eyn hadiber bánu
Uxyom tseténu naˁamod lifney šáˁar ˁim neˁila
Velev ki yaˁaloz: hen elohim kervánu
Vihitneḥam veḥarad mipáḥad hameˁila.

Yom leyom yisa šémeš boˁéret
Veláyla aḥar láyla yišpox koxavim,
ˁal siftey bodedim šira neˁetséret:
bešévaˁ draxim nitpaleg uve'aḥad ánu šavim. 

Ashkenazi:

Boydedim óymrim

Yoym leyoym yánxil šémeš doyéxes
Veláylo al láylo yekóyneyn.
Vekáyits áxar káyits yeyóseyf bašaléxes
Veóylom mitsároy yisróyneyn.

Umóhor nómus veyn hadíbeyr bónu
Uxyóym tseyséynu námoyd lífney šaar im nílo
Veleyv ki yáloyz: heyn elóyhim keyrvónu
Vehisnéxom vexórad mipáxad hamílo. 

Yoym leyoym yíso šémeš boyéres
Veláylo áxar láylo yíšpoyx koyxóvim,
al sífsey boydedim šíro neetséres
Bešéva dróxim nispáleyg uvóxod ónu šóvim.


3 comments:

  1. Great poetry and translation is not bad
    Are you really from Alexandria Egypt?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nicely done! "Hitnakhem" could be translated "shall rejoice", but the niqqud reads "hitnekham" which more likely means "shall regret" (this is a non-standard form which is close to the biblical "nikham" as opposed to "nikhem").

    ReplyDelete
  3. sorry, disregard... I should have read your translation more closely. :)

    ReplyDelete

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