Ribbity Blog

baqqa mqarqra
A Frog's-eye view

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Sunday, September 15, 2002

Tonight the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) begins, the day that all frogs stand in judgement for their acts over the last year.

In honour of this event, I would like to present my translation of a poem by Abraham ibn Ezra, mediaeval Jewish exegete, poet and scholar. The text is taken from Hebrew volume The Religious Poems of Abraham Ibn Ezra, Critical Edition with Introduction and Commentary by Israel Levin, volume 1 (Jerusalem, 1975), no. 238. I have benefited greatly from Levin’s commentary in the following translation.

From the fear of judgement my heart’s aflame,
I’ve despoiled my glory, destroyed my good,
Can I up hold my head high when I’ve sinned to my father?
Terror and trembling are come upon me!

Yeh, by my own design I perverted my ways,
And lent not lobe to the words of my creator.
What cover can I seek when I lack all virtue?
And so I fear for I am naked.

On that day the creator comes to do justice with me
How can I deny it, they’ll all just read,
And so I shall teach the right path to sinners,
It is the Lord that I fear.

The first of the prophets – God began to teach
The ways of right, that he prosper after death;
My heart grew warm within me at his final judgment,
For I fear Him.

I have wronged that soul given to me so pure,
And made her the maidservant rather than mistress,
I must quickly restore her to her illustrious old abode
For the Lord most High is fearful.

O my thoughts, let not this world’s glories lead you astray!
Shake of your masters, let now servant drive you on!
Awaken the sleeping to Him, who will give you strength,
He should be the object of your fear and awe.

See you all Monday night,


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