Page 83 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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ame poem; and the first, fairly lighthearted-satirical, rhym ing
ersion may actually be closest to Bialik’s original in ten tion .4The
ebrew language loves, not only fem inine rhymes (easier in
ebrew than the masculine, on the whole), bu t also the play o f
ords. (The most famous example, perhaps, is the
tohu va-vohu
o f
enesis 1:2, which Buber-Rosenzweig rend e red as: “Und die
rde war Irrsal und Wirrsal” — to achieve a comparable verbal
cho.) Nevo’s poetic m anner springs from h er conception o f
ialik as exhibiting “a Hebrew romanticism o f remarkable
ange ,” including its “grimmer side o f romantic mise-en-abyme”;
is is app rop ria te for the most part, bu t not wholly so here, I feel;
o r in the “W inter Songs,” where the rhymes are part o f the gai­
ty; no r in the “Folk-Songs,” ten o f which were included by Efros
all gracefully rhymed . Could we imagine Helena F rank’s
Whence and Wh ither” there, o r Grace Goldin’s “Should I Be a
abbi,” without the rhymes? Finally, Nevo’s negative view o f
ym ing is hardly sustained by the history o f poetry translations
ver the ages; and it all depends on the skill o f the rhymer!
One more example, this time very personal — since I want to
uote one o f my own very youthful attempts published in 1935 at
anslating Bialik’s “Butterfly.” I ra the r like Nevo’s version; and
ill simply quote my first fou r and last fou r lines, for purposes o f
omparison, the point being that I tried to imitate the me ter and
The world, dipped in light and singing, is good;
treasures of life without measure about us are stirred;
and, in the lane between the furrowed fie ld and the wood,
we two walk slowly, speaking not a word.
* * *
Hurry, hurry, sister, in the wood it’s green and fair;
Under its bridal canopy I ’ll pour you out my bliss.
After I had written the above, I found some support for my reading in
Lachower’s biography (1937). During those formative years, there were many
touches o f satiric irony, even parody, in Bialik’s poems and letters (see espe­
cially page 40). As to the “western”motif, some o f Bialik’s thinking on the sub­
ject was put into a poem (published 1900) entitled “East and West” (omitted
from his collected poems). Leah Goldberg commented (Orlan, page 6) that the
off-rhyme between the Hebrew words for “spider” and “western”was proba­
bly deliberate, to reflect the imperfect world being depicted. In general, there
are affinities among the Peri thesis o f “inversion,” the use o f irony (dramatic
and stylistic) and parody, and the spirit of satire.