Monday, December 01, 2014

A scene from The Atternen Juez Talen

The following excerpt comes from work in progress on my narrative poem The Atternen Juez Talen (The Tale of the Eternal Jew). The year is 1096 CE, and Sodya, the Eternal Jew has been invited to teach history at Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki's (Rashi's) yeshiva (school). Sodya is rather bemused by this, and enters into a little revery.

The excerpt here is presented first in MetaEnglish (Stevespell), and then in Old English (standard English). If you have trouble reading the MetaEnglish, scroll down and read the standard English version first. You'll find the MetaEnglish isn't really all that hard or strange, after all. 

Your feedback is always valued.


Me, Sodya, the Atternen Ju,
Shumaken, wonderren, jerneemen, kouk,
Messijjer, onvoy, advizen too.
Bekum a yeshever an teechennes saje.
In a werl a chaenjleengz, Iem a chaenjennes man.

Evvaddens! Thats wut my iyz wer seen.
Tern it an tern it intu histerree.
Yet hu iz the jujjenz az truwen the fals?

[deleted stanzas]

We maken histerreez az thay maken us
An remake histerreez az the remake uv us.
An weer kot like Zeno in iz infinnit redres
An blien az Ballom iz seet on iz as.

Now Iem a-poez tu teech a histerreez*.

                    * eka d’omray: memmerreez
So my startenz the teech with a fames kumpare*,
                     * eka d’omray: pare
‘It’s the fers a tiemz an the wersen tiemz.’
A talen tu(2) sitteez, Jerrusem an Rom.

Evverwun knowenz at Jerrusallem
Iz the senter the werl an the Throne a the Lor,
That Rom, them seezerz, ar enveyus uv.
So the rommen paeps, in thaer kompenstate,
Aklaem thay senterren the rejen* uv erth.
                     * eka d’omray: rejent

An evverwun knowenz the lammentes faets
Wen the rammen barbareyenz laed tu waes
The hevvennee wawlz uv the Throne the Lor:
Exxile for God an Ju unnallike.

So wen Iem a heer az Rammules iz seejd

For a yeerz, an fammen iz eeten them up
An Badwelah fienlee torz it down,
Jes like Jerrusallem, tor tu the grown,
My theenks* with a tinj uv bitten avvenj,
                     * eka d’omray: thaenks
    “Them Kristyenz wil sufferz a simmaller fade
    “Az us, wokkenz theze rokkee roedz,
    “A wunder az tiem run bakkerdz now,
    “Awway frum Adenz az awway frum the Lor.”

Waal, a duzzen seemz tu wok that wayz.
Wich tot me wel an soon ennuf,
Better tu louk in a merer yerselz
Than tern a merer on histerreez.
Ar simmatreez aent so simpel az that.


Oel Eenglish verzhen

Me, Saadia, the Eternal Jew,
Shoemaker, wanderer, journeyman, cook,
Messenger, envoy, adviser too.
Become a yeshiva’s teacher and sage.
In a world of changelings, I’m a man of changes.

Evidence! That’s what my eyes have seen.
Turn it and turn it into history.
Yet who is the judge of true and false?

[deleted stanzas]

We make history as it makes us
And remake history as the remake of us.
And we’re caught like Zeno in his infinite regress
And blind as Balaam seated on his ass.

Now I’m supposed to teach our history*.
                     * others say: memories
So I start my teaching with a famous comparison*,
                     * others say: pair
‘It’s the first of times and the worst of times.’
A tale of two cities, Jerusalem and Rome.

Everyone knows that Jerusalem
Is the center of the world and the Throne of the Lord,
That Rome’s caesars are envious of.
So the Roman popes, to compensate,
Acclaim they are at the center of the region* of earth.
                     * others say: regent

And everyone knows the lamentable fate
When the Roman barbarians laid to waste
The heavenly walls of the Throne of the Lord:
Exile for God and Jew alike.

So when I heard that Rome was under siege

For a year, and famine was eating them up
And Baduila finally had torn it down,
Just like Jerusalem, torn to the ground,
I thought* with a tinge of bitter vengeance,
                     * others say: my thanks
    “The Christians will suffer a similar fate
    “As us, walking these rocky roads,
    “Wondering why time runs backwards now,
    “Away from Eden and away from the Lord.”

Well, it didn’t seem to work that way.
Which taught me well and soon enough,
Better to look in a mirror yourself
Than turn a mirror on history.
Our symmetries aren’t so simple as that.

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