Thursday, May 17, 2007

Palindrome and alliteration in Hebrew poetry

I suggested an idea about reversed structures in Hebrew poetry in my last post. The very next Psalm I am destined to translate contains just such a structure. Psalm 90:1 and 17 as pointed out by Magonet -A Rabbi Reads the Psalms. Adonay ma'on (aleph) and vihi no'am adonay (in the last verse) - note the palindrome! These writers were playful just as we are - except for us really serious people.

Is there a similar structure in Psalm 2 that would allow the horrible use of a borrowed tongue in verse 12? The rather ugly raw transcription follows - my colour-coding fails me at the moment.

Psalm 2
לָמָּה רָגְשׁוּ גוֹיִם
וּלְאֻמִּים יֶהְגּוּ-רִיק

2 YIthiaTSbU maLkeY-'eReTS
יִתְיַצְּבוּ מַלְכֵי-אֶרֶץ
וְרוֹזְנִים נוֹסְדוּ-יָחַד
.aL-YY V.aL-mSHiXO
עַל-יְהוָה וְעַל-מְשִׁיחוֹ

3 nnaTQAH 'eth-mOçROtheYmO
נְנַתְּקָה אֶת-מוֹסְרוֹתֵימוֹ
VnaSHLikAH mIMeNU .abotheYmO
וְנַשְׁלִיכָה מִמֶּנּוּ עֲבֹתֵימוֹ

יוֹשֵׁב בַּשָּׁמַיִם יִשְׂחָק
יְהוָה יִלְעַג-לָמוֹ

5 'AZ YDaBeR 'eLeYmO b'aPO
אָז יְדַבֵּר אֵלֵימוֹ בְאַפּוֹ
UbaXaROnO YbaHaLemO
וּבַחֲרוֹנוֹ יְבַהֲלֵמוֹ

6 Va'ani nAçakTi maLki
וַאֲנִי נָסַכְתִּי מַלְכִּי
עַל-צִיּוֹן הַר-קָדְשִׁי

7 'açaPRAH 'eL-XoQ YY
אֲסַפְּרָה אֶל-חֹק יְהוָה
'AmaR 'eLaY Bni 'aTAH
אָמַר אֵלַי בְּנִי אַתָּה
'ani HaYOm YLIDTikA
אֲנִי הַיּוֹם יְלִדְתִּיךָ

8 SH'aL mIMeNi
שְׁאַל מִמֶּנִּי
V'eTnAH gOYIm naXaLAthekA
וְאֶתְּנָה גוֹיִם נַחֲלָתֶךָ
Va'aXeZAthkA 'aphçeY-'AReTS
וַאֲחֻזָּתְךָ אַפְסֵי-אָרֶץ

9 TRo.em BSHebet
תְּרֹעֵם בְּשֵׁבֶט
BaRZeL kIkLi
בַּרְזֶל כִּכְלִי
יוֹצֵר תְּנַפְּצֵם

10 V.aTAH mLAkim
וְעַתָּה מְלָכִים
הַשְׂכִּילוּ הִוָּסְרוּ
SHophteY 'AReTS
שֹׁפְטֵי אָרֶץ

11 .IbDU 'eth-YY BiIR'AH
עִבְדוּ אֶת-יְהוָה בְּיִרְאָה
וְגִילוּ בִּרְעָדָה

12 naSHQU-baR Pen-Ye'enaph
נַשְּׁקוּ-בַר פֶּן-יֶאֱנַף
Vtho'bDU DeRek
וְתֹאבְדוּ דֶרֶךְ
ki-YIb.aR 'aPO
כִּי-יִבְעַר כִּמְעַט אַפּוֹ
'aSHReY kAL-XOçeY bO
אַשְׁרֵי כָּל-חוֹסֵי בוֹ


Tim said...

It may be because I'm suffering with a "bug" at the moment, but it does not look strong to me, if I understood you right its these phrases you are suggesting as a palindrome:
הר־קדשי in v.6
נשקו־בר in v.12
While I hear a sort of echo it does not seem to be strong enough to call a palindrome...

Unless in my befuddled state I've missed the point!?

Bob MacDonald said...

Tim: I am searching for clues in the sound to see if there are hints in the other parts of psalm 2 that will aid in the resolution of the translation problem.

The one I highlighted is similar sounding in reverse in part – it is alliterative but not a palindrome as the one in Psalm 90.

I just printed John Hobbins’ 50 pages of stuff on Hebrew poetry – and, based on his comments on segholates, I changed my algorithm for transcription to eliminate E and e vowels under gutturals. I am not yet sure where this will lead.

Thanks for the comment and interest – more discoveries ahead I hope.

Tim said...

Sorry, I misunderstood.

I hear the assonance, though I guess I'd like some more indications of why/how you think these two parts of the psalm are linked, would a possible assonance alone, unless it was one that "worked" in some way be enough to drive an otherwise unlikely word choice?

Tim said...

Duh, sorry, I had not read the two posts above, silly of me, I should have! <Red Face>

Tim said...

I read blogs in bloglines, and get notified of new comments by email, so had not seen the posts - ah, the problems of too-hi-tech!