Friday, February 8, 2019

The Song 8:13-14 Alter

Alter, Song 2:16–17:

My lover is mine and I am his, / who grazes among the lilies. / Until morning’s breeze blows / and the shadows flee, / turn round, be like a deer, my love, / or like a gazelle / on the cloven mountains.

My version

2:16 My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies.
17C Till the day respires and the shadows withdraw,
surround, be like, you, my beloved, the gazelle or the faun of the hart upon the rugged mountains. S

There's a reason I stuck with beloved. It was too familiar. I tried cherished but it didn't didn't cut it for me. And infatuated was too much though I have rendered this stem that way in 5:9. You can see that the Hebrew is untranslatable with a repetition of infatuate. דוד is the stem, David (1079 times), beloved (42 times), also uncle, caress, pannier, infatuation, aunt, nipple, mandrake. It's a word with rich overtones. It is not related to אהב to love, but I allowed it to stand anyway. My rules would stop me from using lover, but I don't resolve the archaic prefix 'be' in my lemma routines so beloved follows my rules. (And the exceptions are documented and clear in my full concordance, 2500 pages from the database).

Why such infatuation with your beloved, fairest among women?
Why such infatuation with your beloved that thus you adjure us?

Alter's who grazes is more accurate than my he grazes. But it is not a question, though I do sometimes use that English construction also for a participle.

My animal names are reversed from his. I probably couldn't tell the difference between a hart and a gazelle, both types of deer? (Hart always reminds me of an editor who corrected my use of hart in a children's story to heart like Microsoft Word does.) Neither word makes a good word play in English for God like the Hebrew האילים does for האלוהים. I will admit I may have chosen the wrong word for some stem somewhere. But if I have, I have done it with full consistency. And it would not be hard to find and correct.

These exercises are of great value to me to test what I have done. Where, I wondered for a minute, did that you appear from in verse 17? It is an odd rendering. (Yes, I find my work odd at times.) There is a לך in the verse, also dropped by Alter (or his reporter). It is usually to you or for you or yours. It is also implied by the command be like.

Let's look at the music. The word leka is highlighted by an emphatic ornament. It should not be dropped.
Song 2:17, the ornament on לך (leka) showing its importance in the verse
Alter, Song 8:13–14:

David Bentley Hart writes: And here his manifest fondness for poetic brevity is especially effective. I want to see more than general praise in the reviews. But I have to give him credit, he has given me several examples in his review. I will look at them closely over the next several days.

You who dwell in the garden, / friends listen for your voice. / Let me hear it. / —Flee my lover and be like a deer / or like a gazelle / on the spice mountains

I have avoided em dashes. My punctuation is generally limited to period, comma, question mark, the very occasional colon, an even rarer exclamation point, and a few parentheses. I have no footnotes, but occasionally insert a bracketed interpretation of a name into the text itself. My work I hope will be readable and singable (with adjustments for underlay). It is intended to be read and sung without explanation. I am not a scholar that I should read commentaries and write yet another. The only commentary I allow myself is selection of musical examples and a caption for each.

13 Those sitting in gardens, companions attending, make me hear your voice.
14 Run away, my beloved, and you be like a gazelle or the faun of the hart, on the mountains of spices.

There is no rest in either verse 13 or 14.
Alter has dropped the word מקשׁיבים that I have rendered as attending (stem קשׁב).
Gardens is plural, so I have interpreted the prior participle as plural also.

Alter is getting lots of press. There is another article by him in ASOR here. I sure agree with him thoroughly about נפשׁ. His paragraph is excellent and his example from Psalm 63:2. I have not used throat here though I use this gloss elsewhere for נפשׁ. And I am tempted, but I will leave it to the reader to imagine the alternative. I like his herding of wind. My own rendering of this is tending of wind. Alter gives good examples from his work.

I also agree that a rendering of this should be foreign rather than familiar, but I am not opposed to occasional lapses into colloquialism.  Even his use of 'lover' above is too modern a word. Decorum is not an adjective I need to apply to the Bible as he does. Some of it is far from decorous. Some of it (e.g. pissing against the wall, or the taunt the male peers of Rehoboam suggested to him in 1 Kings 12:10) is blatantly rude.  Thus you will speak to them, My wee is thicker than the loins of my father.

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