Friday, October 12, 2012

Atternen Juez Talen - the Dammaskis roed

The following is a 2-stanza excerpt from The Atternen Juez Talen, early in the story, as our hero flees Jerusalem and the Roman conquerors. I present two versions. The first is the "meta-English" (stevetok) version. For those who want to check their reading, reflect on the grammatical and linguistic changes, or just can't figure out the meta-English, there's a standard English version below. You'll see, the text is really not hard to understand. The stevetok version is simply more layered, conveying more effectively the essential translucency of "reality."
Meta-English (stevetok) version:

So thaer I wer on that Dammaskis roed,
North a Tavveeryah, an thru Gawlan*.        * Romen lanz noreest a Lake Tavveeryah
Romen masenz an us lokel slaevz
Laed this roed an pield its brijjez.
An now, the krossen eech humpbak brij,
Thay extorten a toelz, a buksheeshen too.
Thats wy I kawlz it 'that dam asskis roed'.
Tu pave a hiway for Sezerz troops,
Thay braken ar baks tu lay the makkaddem,
An taken ar skrach tu wok it now.

Heer ar fother, Yah'akkoev*                        * Jakeb
Wokt hizselz on the way tu Kharron.            * Beraysheet 28:10
Laen him hed on a stane that niets
An up raze a staerway, an aenjelz klime
Owt ov ar gravvelz* tu kristellee korts.        *eka d'omray: grovvelz
Now, jes louk at theze kerstee staenz,
Dustee an gray. Lay yur baenz
Uppon em a-nite, but doen expek
Seengen an starz an soren dreemz,
But steengen sarroez an a soren bak.

Standard English version:

So there I was on that Damascus road,
North of Tiberias, and through Gaulan*.        * Roman territories NE of Lake Kineret
Roman masons and us local slaves
Laid this road and piled its bridges.
And now, to cross each humpback bridge,
They extort a toll and bakshish, too.
That's why I call it 'that damn asskiss road'.
To pave a highway for Caesar's troops,
They broke our backs to lay the macadam,
And take our scratch to walk it now.

Here our father, Ya'akov*                         * Jacob
Walked himself on the way to Haran.        * See Genesis 28:10
Laid his head on a stone at night
And up rose a stairway, and angels climbed
Out of our gravel* to crystal courts**.        *others say: grovels; 

                                                                            ** quartz?
Now, just look at these crusty stones,
Dusty and gray. Lay your bones
Upon them at night, but don't expect
Singing and stars and soaring dreams,
But stinging sorrows and a sore back.

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