Ok, this is where translating gets really really interesting. I used google translator first, as a way to get a very rough sense of the poem, and it translated the last line as “your glass sun attitude.” Huh? So then I started using a dictionary one word at a time, and still got only “attitude sunlight a cup/glass of you/to you.” Still not much sense to be had there.
THEN I switched dictionaries and learned that word being translated as glass or cup is also an Arabic word, course slang for “female sex organ.” OOOOOhhh. That makes much more sense, and of course Israeli Hebrew is full of Arabic words. In terms of my sense of the poem, I’ve put in the word “cunt,” but with much ambivalence because I love the word cunt, it is very positive for me, while here the sense is supposed to be insulting, demeaning. The work will go on.
But there is something really exciting happening here, a strength, directness, violence in the language that is incredibly powerful. I want to make this make sense because I want to deeply get what she is saying. And that’s where translating gets really really interesting, too.
This is a very early start on this poem. The first few lines might be the opposite of what I have here, “be” for “do not be” or the other way around. Right now I’ve stumbled on a combination that allows the poem to make emotional sense to me. Doesn’t translating always reveal the emotional live of the translator alongside that of the poet? I think it must.
תִּהְיִי גַּסָּה תִּהְיִּי קְצָת אֲדִישָׁה
תִּהְיִי קָשָׁה וּלְרֶגַע
תִּהְיִי כָּל כָּךְ רַכָּה
בְּלִי הַמַּכּוֹת שֶׁלָּךְ
תְּקַלְלִי אֶת הַיּוֹם שֶׁנּוֹלַדְתִּי
תְּקַלְלִי אֶת אִמִּי
תָּקִימִי גַּל אַשְׁפָּה לְיַד קִבְרָהּ
צוֹאַת כְּלָבִים תְּגַלְגְּלִי עַל מְרִיצָה
וּתְזַיְּנִי אוֹתִי שָׁם בְּרַגְלַיִם פְּשׂוּקוֹת
שֶׁאֶבֶן הַמַּצֵּבָה קָרָה קָרָה
וְיחֹם הַשֶׁמֶשׁ בַּכּוּס שֶׁלָּךְ
Be rough, do not be indifferent
Shez, translated by Elliott batTzedek
Don’t be hard right now,
be like this, all soft,
and I will go
without your blows
Scream at me
Curse the day I was born
curse my mother
insult her memory,
erect a garbage pile on her grave,
roll in wheelbarrows of dog shit,
Fuck me there, legs spread apart
on the cold stone, cold tombstone,
let the sunlight arouse this cunt that is yours