Nadirisms 22-30: Pseudo-Hebrew and the Critic's Other Cons.
Is criticism truly my profession? (For others liking and disliking is an occupation, for me it is merely my nature!)
Iz den kritik biklal mayn profesye? (bay andere iz lib-hobn un faynt-hobn a fakh, bay mir iz dos bloyz a teve!)
When I see X laboring to improve some poets’ poems, it looks like a cobbler trying to patch...breath!
Az ikh ze vi x bamit tsu farrikhtn di lider fun dikhter, kumt mir for vi a latutnik leygt a latkele af...a otem!
Critic X’s conscience...is all bark and no bite!..
Dos gevisn fun kritiker “iks”...bayst nit, es havket bloyz!...
The critic, with his noble, refined countenance, walks by and elects to say “Take for example that golden [Hebrew] verse ‘Bourekas aton ah tunhel’ (lit. בקצים דארך לדומה רנזים).” That’s all he needs to say. The sheer fact that he has recited this line so nonchalantly, that he has given us such a golden verse as “Bourekas aton ah tunhel,” astounds us to such a degree that we cannot even begin to think that the verse is anything but golden, God forbid.*
Der kritiker geyt farbay mit zayn eydl peniml un git a zog:
“nemt aza goldene shure vi ‘בקצים דארך לדומה רנזים.’”
Darf er nit mer. Der fakt vos er git zikh a zog-op azoy gring, nemt azoy gring aza goldene shure vi בקצים דארך לדומה רנזים pleft undz azoy, az mir kenen shoyn gornisht trakhtn, az di shure iz kholile nisht keyn goldene.
Don is a literary critic.
He writes in a Yiddish paper about gentiles.
Gentiles consider him to be a great man.
Jews consider him to be a great man,
because the Gentiles consider him to be a great man.**
Don iz a literatur-kritiker.
Er shraybt in a yidish blat vegn goyim.
Haltn im di goyim far a groysn mentshn.
Haltn im di yidn far a groysn mentshn,
vayl di goyim haltn im far a groysn mentshn.
One must criticize stradivarius’--on a stradivarius.
Darf men--af a stradevar.
The most unpleasant enemy (on the field of literary polemic) is someone who you could fight simply by smacking them on the nose, but their nose is running.
Der umongenemster soyne (afn feld fun lit-polemik) iz yener, vemen du konst bakemfn mit a shnel in noz, nor es rint im fun noz.
People push their humility in a stroller like a bourgeois father his firstborn.
Vi a balebosl mit an ersht kind, azoy shtupt yeder zayn anives forays in a kinder-vegele.
He tells me: I went outside in search of new forms. It started raining and I didn’t have an umbrella. I was ashamed of myself: Why should I catch a cold for the sake of a new form? My health and my children are dearer to me than a hundred new forms.
So, he says, I went home and stuck to writing in the old form.
Er zogt mir: ikh bin aroys in der gas zukhen naye formen. Hot ongehoybn tsu regnen, keyn regnshirem hob ikh nit gehat. Hob ikh mikh miyashev geven: vos darf ikh mikh farkiln tsulib a nayer forem? Mayn gezunt, mayne kinder zenen mir tayrer vi hundert naye formen.
Ikh bin, er zogt, aheymgegangen un geshribn tsurik in der alter forem.
By Moyshe Nadir
Translated by Corbin Allardice
*- I have, quite frankly, no idea what the “Hebrew” in the verse means. Nor does my friend with whom I consulted, he is a native-speaker and philologist, although he merely looked at this on the side. It is clear from the context, I believe, that this is intentionally horribly bungled Hebrew. Perhaps it is not supposed to mean anything at all (unfortunately, I am unsure even of how to ‘faithfully’ transcribe the text.” The first word would seem to either be related to קצים, meaning ‘ends,’ or to be a strange misspelling of בקוצים, meaning ‘thorns.’ The third word is a rather awkward way of constructing an analogy. As for the other two words, I too am gepleft/astounded. I opted to do a truly wretched and unreadable transliteration of some pseudo-Hebrew in the translation to attempt to capture the feeling of the text.
**- I do not know if Don (דאָן) is a specific reference to a critic, a generic stand-in name, or has some other particular meaning.