Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Psalms 17:13-15

Claude Mariottini has a post on translating Psalm 17 here.

I left a comment. 

There are so many issues with translation I just dove in and swam with the sharks for the last 16 years. This psalm is one I last changed 864 days ago, verse 14 in fact. I began working on the psalm much earlier than that. My first draft was Nov 21, 2008. On these two verses, I have tended to see more apposition than construct. I find that translators smooth things out too much, insisting on readability. The music suggests a more intense desire than smooth words will put across.

My current version is this for verses 13-15. I think we must include 15 to see what the poet is contrasting.

I only left the English on the comment - but a table with the Hebrew is much more revealing.
קוּמָ֤ה יְהוָ֗ה קַדְּמָ֣ה פָ֭נָיו הַכְרִיעֵ֑הוּ
פַּלְּטָ֥ה נַ֝פְשִׁ֗י מֵרָשָׁ֥ע חַרְבֶּֽךָ
13 Arise Yahweh, confront to its face. Make it bow down.
Secure me from the wicked, your sword,
מִֽמְתִ֥ים יָדְךָ֨ ׀ יְהוָ֡ה מִֽמְתִ֬ים מֵחֶ֗לֶד חֶלְקָ֥ם בַּֽחַיִּים֮ וּֽצְפוּנְךָ֮ תְּמַלֵּ֪א בִ֫טְנָ֥ם
יִשְׂבְּע֥וּ בָנִ֑ים
וְהִנִּ֥יחוּ יִ֝תְרָ֗ם לְעוֹלְלֵיהֶֽם
14 from men, your hand, Yahweh, from men, from transience, their share in their lives, whose bellies you fill with your treasure.
Let them be satisfied with children,
and leave their surplus to their progeny.
אֲנִ֗י בְּ֭צֶדֶק אֶחֱזֶ֣ה פָנֶ֑יךָ
אֶשְׂבְּעָ֥ה בְ֝הָקִ֗יץ תְּמוּנָתֶֽךָ
15 I in righteousness will gaze on your face.
I will be satisfied to awaken in your similitude.
Verses 13 and 15 are both in two parts, separated by the mid-verse atnach. Verse 14 is a tri-colon with a long first part ending with ole-veyored, then a pair of cola with the mid-verse rest on children.

I think it is very important to hear the music. I had no experience with it in 2008, but the last dozen years I have concentrated on it – and not just for the psalms. 

Here is the music for just those three verses. It's an accident that I just discovered a setting of the English underlay that I did from 2014.

Psalms 17:13-15 from 2014

Anonymous asked me yesterday to do a word by word underlay. It's just possible that I might be able to do an interlinear lyric with automation. It would be very strange though because the glosses would be in Hebrew word order. And I would have to divide the English into syllables. That's the impossible part. I programmed the syllables with the Hebrew because the music fits it and the syllabic rules are (relatively) clear. This underlay was done by hand - I tried to catch the typos. It's a very old program - still showing the qere and ketiv (bar 74) - something I eliminated once I had made my translation choices.

The music is quite intense - note the rise of the fifth mid-bar on מִֽמְתִ֬ים. The accent is the illuy. Over the text it is an ornament - a jump of a fifth. Under the text it sets the reciting to the dominant (the fifth above the tonic). In this case, the reciting note being the tonic, the illuy strikingly calls out the dominant for just one syllable. "From men!" (The word, mt, is really male. It is used only 20 times in the Bible.)

We are in the process, as are many, of leaving (our) surplus to our progeny.

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