Sunday, September 13, 2009

Psalm 1 - a holiday meditation

I have been having a hard time starting to write again after my holiday. I wrote lots with pen and paper on the cruise, but the fourth page has been stopping me from reworking later pages. I had with me only psalms 1, 2 and 149 - as if I could learn from an opening and closing bracket. It strikes me that one should not divide translation into different types as the early posts from Joel Hoffman's blog seem to be doing and as many translators do. Translation must encompass the word for word, the dynamic equivalence, and the idiomatic all at once. Perhaps where there was no idiom a new one will arise from the translation. Perhaps where the literal is impossible, one will pass into equivalence as best as one can, and last but first in my bias, from the point of view of sound rather than meaning alone, one must hear the frame in order to know the content. Yet too - one might at times have to obscure the frame. In these cases, a footnote is important. I sympathize with Joel in his latest post.  A footnote that says 'Hebrew obscure' or unclear, is not very useful information. Obscure to whom? It certainly is obscured to the reader by such a comment.

So here is my meditation on Psalm 1. It is dialogue.
V. Walk stand sit... is that all I do? I thought it wicked to lie down.
R. You abstract wicked. I do not. My wicked are personal, not disembodied. The saints on their bed are blessed. I said nothing about lying down.
V. Blessed? Happy, you mean, don't you? Did you divide the wicked and the righteous from the beginning?
R. It has been mine from the beginning to know the differences between the one and the others.
V. So walk stand sit are a merism for me. And sinners and scornful are a subdivision of wicked. The other trio, advice way seat, is it one also?
R. No they are many and indistinguished.

V. The one has three times as many words as the many! "In your teaching his delight." Do many know your delight that is his teaching? or her teaching?
V. No question. Your teaching becomes his. Learning such inexpressible delight. All senses participate in delight. So there is fruitfulness. The unfaded leaf can be touched. It has heard. It nourishes both itself and others. It propagates. It is deeply known. That is one way, named as such, known in the opening of the ear to learning from you. No other teacher will do though many may stimulate the beginning of the path. But the beginning is also the end for the end is you. That you know this way, their dross consumed, their husk scattered: that too is a type of fruitfulness. There is no point in me without you.

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