צַפְרִירִים | Tsafririm (“Morning Spirits”), a poem by Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik (1900)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

צַפְרִירִים
Morning Spirits

הַנְשִׁיקַת פִּי אִמִּי, אִם־צִפְצוּף הַדְּרוֹר
תְּנוּמָתִי וַחֲלוֹמִי הַמָּתוֹק הַפְסִיקוּ? –
אֲנִי הֱקִיצוֹתִי וַאֲגֻדּוֹת שֶׁל־אוֹר
הִצְלִיפוּ עַל־פָּנַי וּבְעֵינַי הִבְהִיקוּ.
מֵעַפְעַפַּי לֹא־נִמְחוּ עוֹד קוּרֵי הַחֲלוֹם,
עוֹד כְּרוּבָיו מְתַפְּשִׂים בְּכַרְכֹּב הַקִּיר –
וּכְבָר יִצְהַל בֹּקֶר, יִשְׁתַּקְשַׁק הַיּוֹם
בְּדַהֲרוֹת עֲגָלָה עַל־מַרְצֶפֶת הָעִיר.
Was it my mother’s kiss, was it the swallow
With its “twit-twitter”, broke off my sweet dream?
Lo, I awoke and seemed crowned with a halo,
Legions of rays smote my eyes with their gleam.
Still on my eyelids the dream-web was clinging,
Still lingered its cherubs and would not retreat.
Already the glory of morning was swinging
In a galloping cart oe’r the cobble-stone street.

עַל־מַשְׁקוֹף אֶשְׁנַבִּי הִתְנַעֵר הַקֵּן,
וִירֹעַע וִיצֻפְצַף “צְוִיץ, צְוִיץ” עַד־בְּלִי דָי,
ובְזֹהַר אֶשְׁנַבִּי בְּפַחֲזוּת חֵן־חֵן
צַפְרִירֵי הַבֹּקֶר מְשַׂקְּרִים אֵלָי.
הֵם מְפַזְּזִים וְנוֹצְצִים בִּמְשׁוּבָה צֹהֶלֶת,
מִתְדַּפְּקִים כְּיוֹנִים עַל זְכוּכִית אֶשְׁנַבִּי,
מַחֲלִיקִים, מִתְחַמְּקִים בְּאוֹרָה נֹזֶלֶת
הַשֹּׁפַעַת, שֹּׁפַעַת עַל־גַּבִּי.
The nest o’er my lintel awoke with a flutter,
Aroused itself quickly with shout and with song,
The Spirits of Morning poured in through the shutter
And frolicked and beckoned — a radiant throng.
They sparkled in dances so joyously soaring,
They beat on my pane as white doves in their glee,
They glided and vanished in light outpouring
And flowing abundantly down upon me.

הֵם קֹרְצִים וְרֹמְזִים וּפְנֵיהֶם יִקְרָנוּ:
“אֵלֵינוּ צֵא, פֹּחַז! זְרַח, הַזְהֵר עִמָּנוּ!
עַלִּיזֵי גִיל יַלְדוּת נָפוּצָה, נְצַחֵקָה,
וּבַאֲשֶׁר נִמְצָאָה אוֹר נַזֶּה, נִזְרֹקָה:
בִּשְׂעַר רֹאשׁ שִׁבֳּלִים, בִּקְוֻצּוֹת תַּלְתַּלִּים,
עַל־חֶלְקַת הַמַּיִם, בֵּין רַצֵּי הַגַּלִּים,
בִּשְׂחוֹק יֶלֶד יָשֵׁן,
   בְּלֵב אֵם רַחֲמָנִיָּה,
בִּרְסִיסֵי טַל־בֹּקֶר, בִּלְחִי יְפֵה־פִיָּה,
בְּדִמְעַת יְלָדִים, בִּכְנַף הַצִּפֹּרֶת,
בִּמְכִתּוֹת כּוֹס זְכוּכִית, בּבוּעָה שֶׁל־בֹּרִית,
בְּכַפְתּוֹר נְחֹשֶׁת, בַּחֲרוּזֵי הַשִּׁירָה –
אֵלֵינוּ צֵא, פֹּחַז! נִזְרָחָה, נַזְהִירָה!”
הֵם קֹרְצִים וְרֹמְזִים, עֵינֵיהֶם מַזְהִירוֹת
וּפְנֵיהֶם הַקְּטַנּוֹת מְאִירוֹת מְאִירוֹת,
גַּפֵּיהֶם הַזַּכּוֹת וּבְהִירוֹת מַשִּׁיקִים,
אוֹרִים חַמִּים וּגְדוֹלִים עַל־פָּנַי מַבְהִיקִים.
מַה־נָּמוֹג הַלֵּב!
   עֵינַי אֶפְקַח, אֶסְגֹּרָה –
אֱלֹהִים, שְׁטָפַתְנִי הָאוֹרָה!
They winked and they beckoned, their faces bright beaming:
“Come forth, roguish one, shine with us in our flight!
With childhood’s exulting we’ll send our rays streaming,
On all that we find we will sprinkle our light:
On the soft tufts of sheaves, on curls and on tresses,
On the smooth of the waters that sleep between crests,
In the smile of a child whose lips slumber caresses,
In the heart of a mother where soft pity rests,
In the dew of the morn, in the cheek of fair maiden,
In the pure tears of children, on the wing of a bird,
In fragments of glass, in a bubble air-laden,
On a door-knob of brass, in the poet’s rhymed word.
Come forth, roguish one, let us send our rays streaming.”
They wink and they beckon, their eyes brightly shine.
Their faces so tiny give light with their beaming,
Their pure brilliant bodies aflutter seek mine.
Great waves of warm light come and surge on my face,
My heart faints within me and melts at the sight!
I open my eyes and I close them apace —
O God, I am swept, I am flooded with light!

הוֹ, אֵלַי בֹּאוּ, זַכִּים! צַפְרִירֵי הַתֹּם!
אֶל־מִתַּחַת לִסְדִינִי הַצָּחֹר, הַצָּח!
שָׁם נִתְפַּלַּשׁ, נִתַּפַּל עַד־יִכּוֹן הַיּוֹם,
וּפִזַּזְתֶּם עַל־עוֹרִי וּבְשָׂרִי הָרָךְ.
הוֹ, אֵלַי! עַל־תַּלְתַּלַּי, עַפְעַפַּי, שִׂפְתוֹתָי,
אֱלֵי גוּמוֹת לְחָיַי, מַעֲמַקֵּי בָבוֹתָי;
הֲזִכּוּנִי, שִׁטְפוּנִי, אֶל־לִבִּי חֲדֹרוּ,
בֹּאוּ רְדוּ אֶל־נִשְׁמָתִי, הֱיוּ שָׁם וָאוֹרוּ! –
חֶמְדָּה מְתוּקָה וְנוּמָה נֹפֶלֶת עָלָי,
וְכָל־עֹרֵק וָגִיד צִנּוֹר תַּעֲנוּג שֹׁפֵעַ,
וְהַלֵּב שֹׁטֵף עֹבֵר עַל־גְּדוֹתָיו בְּלִי־דָי,
וּמִתְפָּרֵץ
   כְּמַעְיָן שֶׁל־נֹגַהּ נֹבֵעַ – – –
הוֹ, מַה־מָּתוֹק!
   עַפְעַפַּי אֶפְקָחָה, אֶסְגֹּרָה –
אֱלֹהִים, שְׁטָפַתְנִי הָאוֹרָה!
O, come to me, pure ones, pure Spirits of Morning,
Come under my cover, my sparkling white sheet,
And there let us play till the day gives us warning,
Let me feel your bright warmth from my head to my feet,
On my locks, on my lips, on my eyelids come beaming,
On the dimple of cheek; then through lens of my sight,
Oh, enter and flood me with radiance gleaming,
Cleanse my heart and my soul and suffuse them with light.
The charm overpowers me languid, sweet-flowing,
And each of my veins feels the flow warm and bright
’Til the banks of my heart, ’neath the surge ever growing,
Are flooded completely with radiance of light.
Like a fountain forth bursting, its brilliance outpouring.
How sweet! How my eyelids respond at the sight!
I open and close them, the radiance adoring —
O God, I am swept, I am flooded with light!

The poem “Tsafririm” was written by Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik in Sivan 5660 (May/June 1900) soon after his move from Sosnowiec to Odessa. This English translation with an alternate rhyming scheme was made by Ben Aronin (1904-1980) and appears in the Complete Poetic Works of Hayyim Nahman Bialik: Translated from the Hebrew, volume I (ed. Israel Efros, New York: 1948, Histadruth Ivrith of America, Inc.), p.92. The Hebrew transcription of “Tsafririm” was made by volunteer contributors to the Ben Yehuda Project. (Thank you!) I’ve adjusted Bialik’s lines slightly so as to conform to my linear setting with Aronin’s translation. –Aharon Varady

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