Archive for ינואר, 2013


Middle eastern rock / secondhand translation

One of the greatest things about '60s-'70s Middle Eastern rock (or psychedelia, if you like) is that the lyrics – insofar as I can understand them, and that is not much, except for when it's in Hebrew – seem to continue native folk and literary poetic traditions, with lots of pastoral and agrarian images that don't come up much in Western music of the same era. Not speaking Turkish or Farsi and only some Arabic is a pretty big hurdle, but I get some inkling through the infinite resources of the internet.

The wonderful Orly Noy has translated one of my favorite songs of this spectrum, Kourosh Yaghmaei's "Gole Yakh", into Hebrew. I'm triply hesitant about posting my translation into English here. First because it's a translation of a translation, and that sort of thing is generally frowned upon, especially in the case of languages that have many bilinguals, which is certainly the case with Farsi and English. Second, because rock works on an intricate balance between lyrics and music, and when lyrics are stood on their own that is usually to their detriment. Lyrics to love songs, especially, can sound quite kitschy when they don't have the complexities and ambiguities of the music to play with. Third, because poetic Hebrew is in many ways closer in its associations to Farsi than the rock-music-English that I tried to achieve, Orly may had an easier job of it than I do. Nevertheless I post, and await criticism (really! Be polite but be critical), only asking that you listen to the song before/during the reading:

Frost blooms (Gole Yakh)
Between your lovely eyes sadness has made its nest
Dark night has settled in the forest of your hair
Your two black eyes reflect my night
Their hearts black pools deep as my grief

Among my lashes shoots of sorrow sprout
A gray flood inundates my world
You bear my solitude away like wind

From in between my fingers spring has slipped away
And in my heart frost blooms
In my room I almost burn alive with loneliness
How strange it is to see these blossoms now

My youth has passed, my voice has choked, my song is gone
And frost blooms in my heart

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