Never Ending Meeting

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Written in Hebrew by Nathan Alterman 1938
Free translation by ShimonZ 2015

I was taken by storm while singing to you
those stone walls stood in vain;
my passion is yours, your garden is mine
dizzy, without hands, how could I open doors

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Let the sin and the judgments languish in books
while suddenly and forever my eyes are shocked
through the warring streets and raspberry sunsets
and too, you’ve bound me in bunches

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Don’t ask for the bashful to approach
alone in your country I’ll go
I ask for nothing
my prayer is that you’ll take from me

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From the ends of my sorrow
in the black of night
on the long, empty, asphalt streets
my god has sent me to offer the little children
raisins and almonds to console my poverty

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How good that your hand still grabs our hearts
have no pity on us when we’re too tired to go on
don’t let us crawl for refuge to a dark lonely room
leaving the stars that still shine outside

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There the moon is shining; sends us a smiling kiss
and the damp heavens thunder and grumble
the sycamore dropped me a branch it could spare
and I’ll grab it up for my support

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And I know that while the drum keeps beating
to the pace of the city and the issues at hand
I’ll drop one day with my head bashed in
and find our smile… between the parked cars

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43 responses to “Never Ending Meeting

  1. The almond blossoms are lovely as is the feline surveying the world.

  2. It’s quite early here and I have just played the music you have posted….so haunting and beautiful. Music to dream by.
    Your translation fits perfectly as do the images. Of course I am particularly struck by the glorious Nechama….
    Wishing you and yours a wonderful weekend, filled with beauty and love. Janet. x

    • Yes, in this particular post, I felt that Nechama was sitting in for me, Janet… looking out he window and appreciating the world. Hoping you’re having a very good weekend, and wishing you a fruitful week. xxx

  3. Enjoyed this, and thanks for sharing it … the music, the poetry, the translation, and the photography, especially that first photo of the bowl with the raisins and almonds. It perfectly illustrates the concept of sharing with others in order to put your own circumstances in proper perspective.

    In fact, it raises a question that I’ve recently been pondering about our own personal responsibility to give more of ourselves to others, as we tend to be entirely too concerned with our own affairs. When I ask myself when I have been the happiest in my life, it almost always points to a time when I was led to be in service to others. I’m seriously considering going back to volunteer work again because it helps fuel my spirit, and because it serves a bigger purpose. I left because of financial concerns, but perhaps it’s time to accept that if I am willing, there will always be a way forward. I consider volunteer work as a gift I give to myself, (disguised under the name of volunteering my time and efforts to others). I’ve really missed it.

    “my god has sent me to offer the little children
    raisins and almonds to console my poverty”

    • I think volunteering should be “included” into our way of life… I mean, we should have a job but work, for example 4 days and one day spend our time for volunteering. If I’m not mistaken, this happen for example in Germany.
      In our family we do volunteering for WWF, but since I don’t have enough time to invest into it, I try to repair with some donation of money… even if I know that this is just a mere little act, indeed I feel too so great in my heart when I can “do with my hands” something good for nature and animals. Since my daily job is “caring for jobless people”, the contact with poverty and people in need is always hevely present… this the reason why I spend some free time for nature and animals.
      Serenity 🙂 claudine

    • I remember your mentioning that you felt the problem with volunteering was the expense, but that you enjoyed it very much. It seems to me very likely, Nancy, that this is not a luxury but a choice of life style, and that it might very well be in a separate category from expenses for entertainment, clothing or tools. When we’re working full time, we’re surrounded by people, and we usually find that we have something in common with a few of them, and develop relationships. When that period is over (or suspended for whatever reason), we still need people to relate to. And often, those who are facing serious challenges in life, have a deeper awareness of what life is about than those who are looking for amusement or some relaxation after hard work. Secondly, I believe that work is not just measured by wages. To me. volunteer work is just as important as paid work. And without work, life is much harder. All the best to you, Nancy. I look forward to hearing more about this choice.

  4. Beautiful photographs dear Shimon. And I loved this poem, even it is a translation version, bravo. Spring seems there… But how I miss your lovely Nechama 🙂 Thank you you almost take me to the dreams especially with this song. Blessing and Happiness, dear Shimon, have a nice weekend, love, nia

    • It’s not really spring, Nia. But there are moments of spring between the periods of winter weather. Today the gray clouds are overhead again, and it is quite cold outside, with a strong wind that seems to carry the cold to our bones. But those days of sunshine and flowers make life a lot easier. Nechama is a treasure, and watching her look out the window, I felt a strong identification with her.

  5. Ah Shimon, your pictures brightened my morning as nothing else – and the poem accompanied them perfectly. Thank you..

  6. An absolutely beautiful start to this Friday morning. Take care, Shimon.

  7. Thanks for sharing the poetry, the music and the beautiful pictures

  8. Thoughtful words and beautiful images are a wonderful combination. Although I don’t know the words to the song, I initially found the music as haunting … but as it progressed, I felt joy!

  9. Thank you so much for then grace and beauty that bathed me in peace…what a perfect combination of word, image and music! Gentle peace, Shimon.

    • Thank you very much, Kitty. As hard as it is, sometimes, to tell the story of a different country with a very different culture, it is even harder to translate the poetry of another artist from our language to a foreign tongue. I’m very happy that it all came together for you as a message of peace.

  10. Very interesting music and poetry Shimon. Your pictures are beautiful. Wishing you a good Sabbath. Enjoy! שַׁבַּת שָׁלוֹם

    • Very sweet of you to bless me in my own language, my friend. Glad that you enjoyed the post. The song posted was a musical version of the poem I translated. I wanted to share a bit of the original too.

  11. Wonderful. Song and images. Sorry I don’t speak the language. I was, however, tripped up by “raspberry sunsets”.
    Be well.

    • It’s amazing, isn’t it Bob, that though the world has grown smaller, and parts of our computers or cameras are made in far away China, languages still separate between people and cultures. As close as we can get to one another with an exchange of a few words… it is almost impossible to overcome the lack of a common tongue. Best wishes to you.

  12. Oh….how heavenly! How beautifully the music and images hung together…..what ethereal lyrics too….that almond blossom is utterly exquisite…I can smell it from here. I have such an urge to stroke Nechama!xxx

    • I’m so happy you enjoyed this post. Dina. It was difficult for me to translate the poem. It has so many levels of communication within it, and it was because of that, that I included the song… which is the same poem set to music, in the hope that my readers would enjoy a taste of the original. Nechama is always with me… even when she isn’t featured on the blog… but this time, I had the feeling that she represented me. xxx

  13. I like very much poetry, speciali when it came from deep inside your soul. Thank you for translating it into english… the sound of it in hebrew is very lovely too. It’s wonderful to think about spring coming… and these pink blossoms trees are remembering me of Japan and the Sakura… And the musik brings the spices of your country 🙂 with Nechama looking just beautiful too!
    Have a lovely Sabbath, Claudine

    • Thank you so much, Claudine. It is because poetry comes from deep in the soul, that it is so difficult to translate it… and that’s why I offered the song, to give the readers a taste of what it sounds like in the original. Those almond trees are a favorite in our country. So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your good wishes, and may your week be filled with warmth and peace.

  14. 1938, the doors were closing on Jews in Western and Eastern Europe. Hitler’s people killing factories were developing. Where was the writer?

    The combinations of sweetness and pain, sorrow and inner independence in the words, are so poignant….then, ‘find me with head bashed in’. the gritty stuff of an appalling other reality.

    Your spring photos and Nechama lightened my thoughts with the hope that lives on with generations and regeneration.

    • 1938 was a bad year for Jews, followed by even worse. Fortunately for Alterman, he was relatively safe in Tel Aviv, though we all had relatives in hell. In my presentation of his words, I chose to emphasize the positive, as he said, bringing raisins and almonds to the little children, though I too am aware of the seamy side of life. The pictures celebrated the almond tree in flower, and my hope is that the coming generations will be saved the sorrow that our generation has known. Thank you very much for your comment, menhir. Always good to hear from you.

  15. Beautiful pictures. Why are almonds and raisins given during a worship service? Several ideas run through my mind, but I want to know the real reason.

    • As far as I know, Bev, the almonds and raisins are not part of any worship service. They are a traditional snack for Jewish people going back many hundreds of years, and there is a famous lullaby written about them. Perhaps they are one of the oldest ‘comfort foods’, but don’t have religious significance.

  16. Your pictures are beautiful, especially your observant cat and the almond blossoms. Thank you. x

  17. Simply beautiful, all of it. Nothing else I can say! Thank you! 🙂

  18. The video ,touching my heart with a new kind of beauty I am not familiar with …and the poetry so lovely …thank you dear man …

    • Very glad you enjoyed the post, Meg. Though I was a translator in the past, I didn’t work much with poetry. And I find it next to impossible to translate all the different faces of poetic expression. Thank you for coming by and for your comment.

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