Page 86 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 34

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76
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
I promise not to unlearn and later regret
But to inscribe and remember all that I saw.
Aside from their pedestrian poetic craftsmanship, both ver­
sions are flawed by their failure to grasp the biblical allusions in
Shlonsky’s poem. The repetition of
al daat
in the first stanza
alludes to the solemn
al daat ha-Makom ve-al daat ha-kahal
pro­
nouncement immediately preceding the Kol Nidrei vow chanted
on Yom Kippur eve. Here the connotative nuance is
forgiveness,
which the poet rejects. His vow
lizkor
“to remember” (repeated
twice)
lo lishkoah
“not to forget” (also repeated twice) links his
poem to the biblical injunction (Deut. 25.17), “Remember what
Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt.” Here
the connotative nuance is
revenge,
and here the injunction is
lizkor et hakol
“to remember all”—all the brutalities and all the
atrocities from Amalek down through all the intervening genera­
tions. Unfortunately, neither version leaves this impact.
A further illustration of effective biblical allusion is to be
found in H. Leivick’s poignant Yiddish poem
Eybik
(Forever).
Its first stanza reads:
The world grasps me in hands that wound,
and bears me to fire, and bears me to auto-da-fe;
I burn and I burn, and I am not consumed,
I rise up again and go on my way.
Line three
“ikh bren, un ikh bren, un ikh ver n it farbrent,
is an allusion to the Burning Bush (Ex. 3.2), “The bush was all
aflame yet the bush was not consumed.” (The Leivick line is
now the rubric on the cover page of
Yiddish: A Quarterly Jour­
nal D evo ted to Yiddish and Yiddish Literature.)
L ITERAL vs. FREE TRAN SLA T IN G
From the extreme of literal translation we come to the opposite
pole of extreme free translation. To illustrate, I shall juxtapose
three English versions of the same Hebrew biblical material:
Genesis 1. 1-5. They are (1) the JPS
The Torah
translated by
Dr. Harry M. Orlinsky and his fellow-editors; (2)
In The Be­
ginning
by Everett Fox, translated from the Rosenzweig-Buber
German version; (3)
The Seven Days of the Beginning,
trans­
lated by Eli Munk.