Sunday, June 05, 2016

Psalm 119

Foilo of Psalm 118 courtesy Wikipedia
I finished Psalm 119 on the 20th May but haven't had a chance to blog it until now. It's an amazing Psalm and an amazing privelege to work on it. I had a draft in English but I revied it extensively going through it with the Hebrew text.

Each stanza of 8 verses has all the verses beginning with successive letters of the Alphabet, and each verse mentions the Law but using a different word for it. In my version, except for the 6th stanza, I also always start each verse with a different word.

The 6th stanza in Hebrew begins with Wav and every verse begins with V which means And/But (and a few other things) but in Hebrew is a prefix to a word.  Fortunately our 6th letter is F - not I suppose an entire coincidence since F and V are cognate - so I was able to achieve the same effect.  I'm not going to trouble you with the whole Psalm, wonderful though it is - I'm remined of Edith Sitwell's wonderful anthology The Pleasures of Poetry where she wanted to include the whole of Paradise Lost but was told it was "too long". Here are the first, 6th and last stanzas. Words in blue are not in the Hebrew but are inserted to make the verses work.  I don't think they change the sense, but you can judge:

Ah blessed are those perfected in their way: those walking in the Torah of the LORD.
Also blessed they who keep His testimonies: yes those who seek for Him with all their heart
Avoiding every work of wickedness: in His ways they have walked their path in life.
Almighty, You have given Your commands: that we might faithfully adhere to them.
According to my prayers my ways direct: that I might keep to Your commandments true.
Assuredly not being put to shame: when all your statutes have held my regard
And I’ll praise you with uprightness of heart: when all your righteous judgements I have learned
Always will I adhere to your decrees: do not, I pray, forsake me utterly!
For your kind love will come to me O LORD: your help according to your promises
For then I'll find an answer to their taunts: becasue I've trusted in your faithful word
Forsake not from my mouth the word of truth: for in your judgements I have put my hope.
Forever will I keep to your Torah: for all time and indeed for evermore.
For will I walk in pathways free and broad: because I've sought out your commandments true.
For I'll proclaim your statutes before kings: and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
For I will take delight in your commands: which I have always cherished and have loved.
For I'll lift hands to your laws which I love: and I shall mediate on your decrees.
O LORD* let my appeal come to your presence: as per your words O make me understand.
Yes, let my supplication come before you: deliver me according to your promise.
You taught me your commandments and therefore: my lips will joyfully proclaim your praise.
Your utterances will my tongue proclaim: for all your precepts come in righteousness.
Yield up your hand to be my ready help: because your testimonies I have chosen.
Yearn do I ever for your help O LORD: because I take delight in your Torah.
Yea, may my soul live long and give your praise: and mayyour judgement help me from your hands*.
Yet seek your servant, strayed like a lost sheep:  for I have not forgotten your commands.
* The Divine Name of course begins with a Y.  Heb in penultimate line has "may your judgement bring me help"

No comments: