Bialik: "Tonight, I lurked..." (From Hebrew)

"Tonight, I lurked..."
By Hayyim Bialik
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original in Ashkenazi Hebrew

Tonight, I lurked out by your bedroom,
And saw you: silenced, unwhole,
Your eyes disturbed at the window
In search of your love and lost soul;

In search of devotion's requital1-
And you did not see, my love,
My soul slapped and thrashed at your window
Like some horror-smitten dove.

1- The phrase used in Hebrew is an allusion to the "marriage" between God and Israel in the book of Jeremiah. The precise passage alluded to is Jeremiah 2:3

כה אמר יהוה זכרתי לך חסד נעוריך אהבת כלולתיך לכתך אחרי במדבר בארץ לא זרועה
Thus says the Lord: "I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness in a land unsown."
However, whereas the husband (i.e. God) remembers the bride's (i.e. Israel's) love and devotion- in Bialik's poem, the woman is searching for something she apparently never had, for the requital of her devotion. The implication is that the love is unconsummated. Failed love of this sort is one of Bialik's favorite themes.

The Original:

הַלַּיְלָה אָרַבְתִּי
חיים נחמן ביאליק

הַלַּיְלָה אָרַבְתִּי עַל-חַדְרֵךְ
וָאֶרְאֵךְ שֹׁמֵמָה הֶחֱרַשְׁתְּ;
בְּעֵינַיִךְ הַנְּבוּכוֹת בַּחַלּוֹן
נִשְׁמָתֵךְ הָאֹבְדָה בִּקַּשְׁתְּ –

בִּקַּשְׁתְּ אֶת-גְּמוּל חֶסֶד נְעוּרָיִךְ –
וְאַתְּ לֹא-רָאִית, אֲהוּבָתִי,
כִּי כְּיוֹנָה חֲרֵדָה בְּחַלּוֹנֵךְ
הִתְחַבְּטָה, הִתְלַבְּטָה נִשְׁמָתִי.

1 comment:

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