A Memory’s fire burns within me still, by Andrew Meit adapted from the Qinah, “Aish Tuqad b’Qirbi”

A raging soaring memory-flame burns within me,
when my delighted heart rises up to remember:
my leaving Egypt;
But plunge deep I must to find within sorrow-songs,
so I should always remember that sorrowful day:
my leaving Jerusalem.

In victory the Nile saved foretold leader strongly sang,
an unforgettable uplifting tribal salvation song,
when I left Egypt;
And G-d-wrestling wise word-seer cried loudly,
in bitter wretched weeping for endless time,
when I left Jerusalem.

G-d’s promised Presence was firmly established,
and the glowing glory cloud was ever-present,
when I left Egypt;
And quickly does G-d’s dire destructive wrath
surrounded me like a dense surreal still fog,
when I left Jerusalem.

The sea waves daringly danced in an uproar,
and they stretched tall wall-like heavenward,
when I left Egypt;
Dark blood-water freely flowed upon cold ground,
covering completely my tear soaked bruised feet,
when I left Jerusalem.

The sky showered needed wholesome glorious grain,
and from rough rocks flowed cool soothing water,
when I left Egypt;
Patches of foul sickly scrubs are seen everywhere
and fevered weeping vomitous waters flowed,
when I left Jerusalem.

See each assured appointed sunrise and sunset,
surrounded near expansive mighty sacred Sinai,
when I left Egypt;
Day and night mourning is repeatedly requested,
beside the strange serpentine rivers of Babylon,
when I left Jerusalem.

And G-d offered often ever-promised Presence
like the ever-calming comfort from fixed sun-fire,
when I left Egypt;
Now HE is a swiftly drawn fierce fiery sword,
raised up for my confusing senseless slaughter,
when I left Jerusalem.

We often offered plenty of pure beast-blood,
set-aside gained grain and blessed-right oil,
when I left Egypt;
G-d’s treasured offerings was ruthlessly removed,
like sheltered sheep dragged to an easy slaughter,
when I left Jerusalem.

Special fantastic Feast days and restorative rest days,
many mighty wonders and cogent sanctioned signs,
when I left Egypt;
Fearful Fasting days and many sleepless anxious nights,
wandering weakly about to utterly embrace emptiness,
when I left Jerusalem.

Survey the ancient large gloriously groomed tents,
with four famous everlasting tall tribal standards,
when I left Egypt;
Behold cold-hearted hate-fueled roaming Roman camps,
pounding abodes and bodies into scary scattered death,
when I left Jerusalem.

Mark joyous Jubilees and deserved seventh-year rest,
and overworked lands are given respected repose,
when I left Egypt;
Home-lands are now falsely sold like a broken beast
and diligently divorced from poor-paid homeowners,
when I left Jerusalem.

Mercy’s winged cover and golden bright singular Ark,
and carved double stones of life-guides to remember,
when I left Egypt;
Flying small stones swiftly released without mercy
and fast bright blades wielding death without hope,
when I left Jerusalem.

One Tribe offers atonement and others defiant defense
and well seasoned seventy wise leaders teach the Path,
when I left Egypt;
Too many unreasonable leaders and unfeeling autocrats,
outrageous sellers and tightfisted buyers rig markets,
when I left Jerusalem.

The foretold nile found leader surely watched over me,
and his pure priest brother faithfully guided my feet,
when I left Egypt;
And the insane brutal Babylonian king overpowered all,
and the wicked blood-sport Roman emperor captured all,
when I left Jerusalem.

Properly prepared for years to fight a just true war,
and was often told surely God’s Presence is present,
when I left Egypt;
Presently God’s promised Presence is hidden away,
and to stubbornly seek, yet Presence is not found,
when I left Jerusalem.

Behold beyond the huge holy drape mighty mysteries,
and twelve well-ordered presence-cakes ever present,
when I left Egypt;
With quick fury that old divine drape is torn all apart,
searing amber strips fall freely upon my skin blistering,
when I left Jerusalem.

Soul-chosen offerings of taken-grain and beast-blood,
and pleasing selected-scents given to primal Presence,
when I left Egypt;
Hate-chosen for a demanded punishing painful death,
selected priceless bodies of Israel are sword speared,
when I left Jerusalem.

Flowering head wraps atones Israel’s haughtiness,
befitting blossoming gained glory yet to become,
when I left Egypt;
Pounding angry whistles and blasting curved horns,
cursing our ears and hearing of cruelties come,
when I left Jerusalem.

Gleaming golden headband reminding earned crown,
affirming Israel’s leadership and learn’d dignity,
when I left Egypt;
God’s holy assistance is suddenly swept all aside,
casting away totally Israel’s primal pledged hope,
when I left Jerusalem.

Prayer-climb towards holiness by compassionate deeds,
and prayer-dance boldly before awesome Presence,
when I left Egypt;
Ash caked broken bodies with tarnished torn souls,
sitting in shit wailing wildly misery’s renewed song,
when I left Jerusalem.

Freedom’s overdue joy and salvation’s sweet release,
and many valiant long roars of brazen brass horns,
when I left Egypt.
From the cruel harvest resistant remnants cry out,
enduring sicking soiling hear their bewildered pleas,
when I left Jerusalem.

Presence-table offers tribal sustaining nourishment,
seven lights teach: be creative, wise, and ethical,
horned pedestal burns incense — word-deeds rise up,
when I left Egypt;
Malnourished false food, irresponsible sold creativity,
Knowledge without wisdom, thoughtless compassion:
all abomination, idolatry, and evil monuments made,
when I left Jerusalem

Oral original teaching with wondrous written words
and intentional instruction with directed duty-deeds,
and precious vessels all: mind, heart, body, and soul do feed from life-tree,
when I left Egypt;
The vibrate voice of reclaimed living joy and rediscovered real gladness soars,
and burning mourning and steep sorrow shall finally embrace an eternal end,
when I return to Jerusalem.


“A Memory’s fire burns within me still” was adapted by Andrew Meit from Gabriel Seed’s translation of the kinah, Aish Tukad b’kirbi (“A Fire Shall Burn Within Me”).

Aish Tukad is a kinah for Tisha B’av, usually recited towards the conclusion of the set of dirges for the morning service (in Goldshmidt’s numbering, it is number 32 of our 46 Kinot). According to Goldshmidt’s introduction, the structure of this Piyyut (liturgical poem) is based on a Midrash in Eicha Zuta 19, where Moses’ praises for God and Israel are seen as parallel to Jeremiah’s laments, thus creating the concept of a comparison between the joy of the Exodus and the pain of the Temple’s destruction.

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