Sunday, November 13, 2016

Yiddish Hallelujah by Daniel Kahn

Today I heard this most wonderful version of Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah."  An artist named Daniel Kahn  translated the essence of the song into Yiddish. The video has English subtitles and if you're familiar with the song, you will see the lyrics vary from the original. However, I think they are just perfect. ~~GH

Hallelujah, written by Leonard Cohen. Transadaptation into Yiddish by Daniel Kahn, English translation by Daniel Kahn

There was a secret tune
That David played for God,
But for you it would never be such salvation.
One sings it like this: a Fa, a Sol,
A misheberach (prayer or scale) raises a voice,
The confused king weaves a hallelujah...

Your faith has grown weak,
Bathsheba bathes herself on the roof,
Her charm and the moon are your remedy.
She takes your body, takes your head,
She cuts a braid from your hair,
And pulls down from your mouth a hallelujah...

Oh dear, I know your style,
I've slept on your floor,
I've never lived with such a treasure of a woman.
I see your castle, see your flag. 
A heart is no King's throne.
It's a cold and a ruined hallelujah...

Oh, tell me again, like before,
What's happening down there in your lap.
Why must you be ashamed, like a virgin?
Just remember how I dwelled in you,
How the holy feminine spirit glows in our blood,
And every breath utters a hallelujah...

Could be my god isn't there at all,
And love could be a moral monstrosity,
An empty dream, broken and bankrupt.
It's not a cry in the middle of the night,
It's not a reborn zealot awakened,
But a sad, lonesome-voiced hallelujah...

You call me an apostate,
I blaspheme with the Holy Name.
No matter, I'm not expecting the messianic age.
But it burns hot in every letter,
From alef-beys all the way to the end,
The holy and ruined hallelujah...

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah, hallelujah.

And that's all, it's not a lot,
In the meantime, I'll do what I do.
I come here like a mensch, not a scoundrel.
Though all is lost anyway,
I will praise Adonai,
And cry "L'chaim": Hallelujah...

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
Hallelujah, hallelujah.

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