Translation of Anim Zemirot in Full
I previously translated a part of the hymm "Anim Zemirot." I've now finished it. A shout-out to Donald Menzi who encouraged me to finish it. I would like to footnote it with comments about translation decisions I made. But I don't have the time right now.
There were some small changes I made to the part I had already done.
I've put brackets where i put words or information that weren't in the original. Given that pronouns can be fairly fluid in Hebrew, I've sometimes changed the pronoun to "I" to communicate the personal nature of this poem.
The Talmud sees the word "adorns" (pe-er) as a euphemism for wearing teffilen. The Talmud talks about how men wear teffilen with God's deeds inscribed in them and God wears teffilen with human deeds inscribed in them. I stayed more literal with the text in that section. I think the poetry works with or without thinking of "adornment" as wearing teffilen. "Adorn" communicates a kind of dressing up out of love which is something the poet images as being a mutual activity that we do with God.
I've numbered the verses so that people could more easily comment on them and offer different translations.
"Zvi tifarah" which occurs many times, I've translated simply as "desire" (except for the first time where I use "magnificent desire").
Please comment. And do feel free to offer alternative to any of it.
I hope to write a more personal reflection on what it was like to translate this and what it means to me.
- Soothing songs and poems I weave because my soul longs for You.
- My soul desires the shadow of your hand, to know every one of Your secrets.
- Each time I speak of Your glory, my heart longs for Your love.
- Therefore I will speak about You, about Your glories. Your name I shall honor with love songs.
- I’ll tell of Your glory, though I have never seen You. I’ll give people images for You and names for You, but I do not even know You.
- By the hand of Your prophets or through private counsel with Your worshippers, You provided images of the beauty and glory of Your power.
- They named Your powerful deeds: "Your greatness," "Your strength."
- They imagined You, but not as You really are. They tried to describe You according to Your deeds.
- They made parables about You and provided a myriad of visions of You, yet here You are, One in all the different forms.
- They envisioned You as an old man and as a young man, the hair on Your head as that of a man satisfied in days or just at his dawn.
- Old on the day of judgment, and young at the battle front: a man of war with many hands.
- You wear salvation as a hat; Salvation is Yours, exhibited by your holy right arm.
- His curls are as black as a downpour at night, but only light reflects in the drops.
- He will be glorified through me. He wants me. He is the crown of my desire.
- Fine pure gold is my image for His head; on His forehead His glorious holy name is engraved.
- With grace, honor, and a magnificent desire, His people wreath Him with a crown.
- The locks of His hair are like a youth's; they are mounds of black curls.
- A garden of justice is His greatest desire; it rises above His greatest joy.
- When He holds His treasured people as a crown in His hand, we are like a royal turban, a sign of His desire.
- He carries us all, each of us with a crown. He values us. He honors us.
- He adorns Himself for me and I adorn myself for Him. He is close to me when I call.
- Bright and red, His garment is red. He makes his way on the path from Edom. [Sounds like "adom" which means "red".]
- He showed the teffilin knot [he was wearing (at the base of the back of his head)] to His humble one [Moses]; an image of Adonai, seen with his own eyes.
- He accepts His people, adorning the humble and being adorned by them, as He dwells among their praises.
- Your chief word is "truth"; You've called it out since the beginning. In each generation people interpret You and find meaning.
- I humbly place before You this noise, my songs, so that my joy will draw near to You.
- May my praise be a crown for Your head, my prayers be accepted like incense.
- May the poor person's song be dear to You, like the songs that were offered with the sacrifices.
- May my blessing rise up to You, the Sustainer, the one who stirs up [the status quo], giving birth to justice like [water from] a well [quenches thirst].
- Please nod to acknowledge my blessing; take it for Yourself as You took from the incense of old.
- I hope that these words were sweet; they came out of my longing for You.