Today was a particularly special day in Ulpan for me because we spent less time focusing on endless rules about sentence formation and grammar, and took time to look at some of Israel’s most profound and prolific song writers and their masterpieces of works. I feel that in todays world of techno music and rap songs people forget that music used to tell stories; beautiful, haunting stories that would stir up a plethora of emotions specific to each listener. Lea Goldberg was one of Israel’s leading poets, songwriters, literary translators, and play writes, and we analyzed one of her beautiful songs that profoundly resonated with me, and the experiences and emotions that I am undergoing as a new immigrant to a foreign country. The name of the song is called “The Pine” and I will post the words in Hebrew with a translation in English before going into why this song hit me so dramatically.
כאן לא אשמע את קול הקוקיה.
Here we don’t hear the voice of the woodpecker
כאן לא יחבוש העץ מצנפת שלג,
Here the trees don’t wear capes of snow
אבל בצל הארנים האלה
But in the shade of these pines
כל ילדותי שקמה לתחיה.
All of my childhood is reborn
צלצל המחטים: היה היה
The sound of the needles: Once upon a time
אקרא מולדת למרחב-השלג,
I will call my homeland the area of snow
לקרח ירקרק כובל הפלג,
And the green ice at the river’s edge
ללשון השיר בארץ נכריה.
For the language of this song is in a foreign land
אולי רק צפרי-מסע יודעות –
Maybe only migrant birds know
כשהן תלויות בין ארץ ושמים –
Because they are suspended between earth and the heavens
את זה הכאב של שתי המולדות.
The heartache of two homelands
אתכם אני נשתלתי פעמים,
With you I was planted twice
אתכם אני צמחתי, אורנים,
With you, Pine Trees, I grew
ושורשי בשני נופים שונים.
Roots in two different landscapes
Here is a link to here the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9rZ-1zLsQ8
First, before I get into how utterly amazing this song is, I would like to congratulate my Ulpan class on being able to translate and analyze this beautiful piece of work. Poetry is difficult in a native tongue, so the fact that we have started work on poetry in a language that we are only just beginning to have a command over is very exciting! (and to any Israelis who read this I”m sorry if I butchered some of the translation!)
This song is about a woman who is stuck between two homes, not feeling like she really belongs in either one as of yet (like a bird suspended between the earth and the sky). On the one hand she feels a deep nostalgia for her motherland, for the sounds of the birds, to the snow covered hills, really to everything familiar and known to her, but at the same time she feels a connection to her new home in the Jewish country, and a desire to root herself to this land, and rectifying those conflicting feelings is not always an easy task.
I purposefully never gave myself strong roots back home in California because I feel apart of me always knew I would leave. I may not have known it consciously, but there was always a yearning to establish myself somewhere far away. However, now and then I can’t help but miss the little things that remind me of the wonderful childhood I had in California; the desert sunsets, being with family over the holidays (really just being close to family), football games, the fact that everything was conducted in a language I knew (that’s a big one). I don’t feel completely Israeli yet, but I also don’t feel ONLY American either. I’m caught between two places that hold great significance for me, and sometimes that can be a lonely, scary place.
But, like in the song, maybe it isn’t about being one or the other, but about finding roots and wings that give you the freedom to feel like you belong completely to both of your identities. I have my childhood roots in California where I was born and raised, and now I’m beginning to grow connections and links to Israel like I have never experienced before. There my life was given to me by my parents and grandparents, and family, who raised me, cared for me, taught me, and molded me to be strong and independent. Here, my life is no one’s but my own to do with it what I can, and to utilize to my fullest extent each day that I am blessed to be here. It is not easy sometimes, and I have many challenges that I will need to overcome for years and years, but through all the hardships I am finding my way in the dark and molding a pretty fantastic life for myself. My family gave me my wings, now I am setting my roots, and each day they are growing stronger and stronger in a country that I hold so dear to my heart. I started as an American, I’m continuing as an Israeli, and somewhere in all of this I have forged two strong identities for myself, and that is a great accomplishment. I”m really working on the whole becoming French thing too but that might take some time and A LOT of assistance from Stephane ;-).
With my Ulpan coming to an end I can only look on the future with great excitement! I begin work which will allow me to slowly become financially independent, I will return to school where I will be studying in a language that is not my own (terrifying but exciting), I begin pre-production on a music project that I have been dreaming about since I was a little girl, and I get to share all of this with an amazing family, fantastic friends (near and far), and a boyfriend who is my world, and who has taken me in as apart of his family when I had no one else in the world close by to me. Life is wonderful and getting better every day!
Stay tuned for a fantastically, fun post about my last day of ulpan!!!
Until we meet again <3,