Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Precocious thirteen year old renaissance yingelach; a marvelous Hebrew-Italian poem of the 16th century.

This neat linguistic feat ought to be more well known than it is. Written by R. Yehuda Aryeh (Leone) de Modena (more about him to come) in honor of his dearly beloved, departed teacher R. Mosè della Rocca.

The poem is both Hebrew and Italian at the same time.

קינה שמור אוי מה כי פס אוצר בו
כל טוב אילים כוסי אור דין אל צלו
משה מורי משה יקר דבר בו
שם תושיה און יום כפור הוא זה לו
כלה מיטה ימי שן צרי אשר בו
צייון זה מות רע אין כאן ירפה לו
ספינה בים קל צל עובר ימינו
הלים יובא שבי ושי שמנו

Chi nasce, muor. Oimè, che passo [a]cerbo!
Colto vi è l'uom, cosí ordina 'l Cielo
Mosè morí, Mosè: già car di verbo
Santo sia ogn'uom, con puro zelo
Ch'alla metà, già mai senza riserbo
Si giunge, ma vedran in cangiar pelo
Se fin abbiam, ch'al cielo ver ameno
- Ah - l'uomo va, se viv' assai, se meno.

Ostensibly it should give us information about Hebrew pronunciation in 16th century Italy.

From an 1855 Notes & Queries:

Actually, R. Leone de Modena was thirteen when he wrote this (1584), not seventeen.

(Mar G [now Rav G?!--!מזל טוב] posted about him recently.)

A similar feat was attempted (on a smaller scale and with a bit of borrowing) by Ephraim Luzzatto in the 18th century:

מי זה רואה
שנות אידי
פנה אלי
או מה
שאול שבר
קינה שמור
אני מתי
אבוי ימי
און עמל
הה כי פסו

Ah! L'uom
misero è
se notte e dí
pene e lai
- ohimè -
suol cibar.
Chi nasce muor
A voi giammai
avvenga mal
- ah - che passo.

1 comment:

  1. great post. a linguist i admire, ghil'ad zuckermann, wrote a similar israeli-italian bilingual poem, but far more, um, "absurdist' and "abstract" than this. intelligible though, and a lot longer.

    also a really long palindromic story in israeli, also kinda absurdist but still intelligible.



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