‘You’re not doing so badly….’ (Aleksandr Kabanov)

October 23, 2014

You’re not doing so badly, I dare say:
there a spider absorbs a thread it span
and there’s the capricious timbre of our day–
try and catch it, if you can.

Dolphins bark, the ship goes on its way
fate is a receptacle for trash, all right:
what a pity now, they won’t send you away
or kill you for the verse you write.

Александр Кабанов

Александр Кабанов

Твои дела — не так уж плохи,
вот паучок вбирает нить,
а вот капризный тембр эпохи —
его попробуй уловить.

Корабль плывет, дельфины лают,
судьба — вместилище трухи:
как жаль, что нынче не ссылают,
не убивают за стихи.


Rachel Montagu’s Biblical Hebrew class 2014/15

October 23, 2014

Rachel Montagu has kindly sent some details of her Biblical Hebrew course for 2014-15.

These classes work in the time-honoured fashion: each student in turn reads a verse aloud and then translates it, with input from the teacher as necessary. She also provides some background and interpretation from traditional Jewish teaching.

The emphasis is certainly on understanding the text rather than grammar as such. In my experience, there have been perhaps an average of seven or so students coming to lessons. The level things are taken at tends to depend on who the students are.

In principle, students should have covered the material in the First Hebrew Primer from Eks before starting this class. If you know the qal conjugation (perfect and imperfect) pretty well for verbs with three strong roots (the ‘regular’ ones if you like) and have some idea about hiphil and niphal and verbs with weak roots, that will probably do.

If you want to know more, you can email Rachel;  or feel free to email me if you’re feeling shy.  I’ve also shared just about everything I know about studying Biblical Hebrew with the world here.   [As of 23 October 2014 that page awaits a yearly revision.]

Dear All

I hope you had a good summer

I’m writing to let you know that I hope the Wednesday evening Hebrew class
will run again this year. Liberal Judaism have agreed to host us again at
the West Central Liberal Synagogue in Maple St.  Please let me know if you will be coming so I can let them have a list of names for security purposes.

Term will not begin until 22/10 – too many festivals on Wednesday evenings
between now and then. [NOAI:  I think the classes run from 1830 to 2030.]

If anyone would find a daytime class more convenient, City Lit is hoping
to start a level 3 course this year – look on their website for further
details – term there will be 23/10 – 18/12 and the class will be


Best wishes


Hebrew Class Wed Outline 2014-5


Autumn Term


The Beginning: A Very Good Place to Start

22nd October              Genesis 1:1-23

29th October                Genesis 1:24-2:17

5th November             Genesis 2:18-3:15

12th November            Genesis 3:16-4:15


Texts of Terror from Judges

19th November                        Judges 9:1-25

26th November                        Judges 9:50-56, 11:1-11, 29-34

3rd December                          Judges 11:35-40, 12:1-7, 19:1-10

10th December                        Judges 19:11-30

17th December                         Judges 21:1:25


Spring Term



7th January                  Habakkuk 1:1-17

14th January                Habakkuk 2:1-20

21st January               Habakkuk 3:1-19


Exodus and Ezekiel: Temple Building

28th January                Exodus 38:1-25

4th February               Exodus 38:26-21

11th February             Exodus 40:17-38

[18th February half term – Ash Wednesday]

25th February             Ezekiel 40:1-23

[4th March       no class - Purim]

11th March                  Ezekiel 40:24-49

18th March                  Ezekiel 41:1-26

25th March                  Ezekiel 42:1-20


Summer Term


Exodus and Ezekiel: Temple Building continued

15th April                      Ezekiel 43:1-27

22nd April                    Ezekiel 44:1-28


Dare to Read a Daniel

29th April                      Daniel 1:1-2:4

6th May                        Daniel 8:1-27

13th May                      Daniel 9:1-27

20th May                    Daniel 10:1-21

[27th May                     half term]

3thJune                        Daniel 12:1-13


Numbers: Blessings, prophesy and complaints

10th June                     Numbers 6:1-27

17th June                     Numbers 11:1-24

24th June                     Numbers 11:25-12:16



1st July                        Psalms 81, 84, 100

8th July                        Psalms 85, 86, 111

15th July                     Psalms 91, 92, 93

Inner London’s economy: What does it mean for Lewisham?

October 22, 2014

The Centre for Cities published a report entitled Inner London’s economy: a ward level analysis of the business and employment base   in October 2013.  It doesn’t look particularly encouraging for Lewisham, as in the following illustrations.


Their Figure 2 shows that the population decreases during the day, implying that people go elsewhere to work (or perhaps study).

lewfig3Figure 3 shows no sign at all of any concentration of businesses  that might serve as a nucleus for further developments.

lewfig7Similarly, Figure 7 shows a rather limited number of start-ups.


This may be explained, at least in part, by Figure 9, which shows that the accessibility of public transport is far from great.


The maximum broadband speeds in Figure 10 might be more encouraging for Lewisham…if it wasn’t overshadowed by the need to make a point about more glamorous places…

So in conclusion we get a picture of Lewisham as somewhere people live so that they can work elsewhere but the state of the transport links means it’s not too easy.  That sounds like many parts of London in the 1970s:  a decaying nowhere, but surprisingly close at hand.  To be optimistic, it may be that even a slight improvement in transport will mean a substantial increase in house prices for Lewisham residents, and an influx of employment so they don’t have to use the transport after all.



‘Flared up from a kiss…’ (Anatoly Naiman)

October 22, 2014

Flared up from a kiss, the celluloid pierrot
went out in a moment.
The material took no harm from the heat, nor the evil eye,
nor a peacock feather in the ribs.

The metronone’s precious Caesarean
running took a breather for a day
and then for a silver bromide age,
for Romany passion and indolence.

But it soon came to an end and scraped off
the indurated speckles and stains–
innocent blood from the Cheka’s black leathers
and from throats an inflamed summoning.

Banged the piano–a pity. The Tyrol had a role–what a pain.
Having gone through fire and the tubes
they muttered the password indistinctly
and mumbled the response out of turn.

Thus there passed a century. We made a calculation
where the good was–that’s OK–and where the bad
how much those who survived had won–
or more for those who’d had a lucky break.



С поцелуя вспыхнув, мгновенно гас
целлулоидовый пьеро.
Не мешал материи жар, ни сглаз,
ни павлинье перо под ребро.

Драгоценный цезарианский бег
метронома брал роздых на день,
а потом на серебрянобромный век,
на цыганскую страсть и лень.

Но он скоро кончился и соскреб
затвердевшие крап и сыпь:
с черных кож Чека — неповинную кровь
и из горл — воспаленный призыв.

Бил рояль, что жаль. Выл Тироль, что боль.
Сквозь огонь и трубы прошед,
неразборчиво бормотали пароль,
невпопад бубнили ответ.

Так минуло сто. Мы подсчет вели:
где добро — лады, а где зло,
сколько выиграли кто выжили —
или больше тем повезло.

‘From the rustling of leaves…’ (Anatoly Naiman)

October 19, 2014

From the rustling of leaves, from the splashing of water
we catch predictions, in a word or half a word,
of great good fortune or of some slight trouble.
We are all codebreakers of knowledge overheard.

We’ve all become self-appointed priests.
But what! If the tongue is going to debate
coarse matters, answering the imperious letter R,
then surely it will need someone to translate?

There you have grown arrogant, you proud creature
reason, towards that trembling creature delusion.
But remember what kind of a dictionary opens
when Vesuvius begins to make its allusion.

North winds will stifle the impetus, and bring down
the foliage. And in firm handwriting, no way unclear,
silence will trace out on the virginal forehead that
trouble lasts forever, consolation is briefly here.

Анатолий Найман

Анатолий Найман

Из шелеста листьев, из плеска воды
мы ловим словцо, полсловца предсказаний
великой удачи и легкой беды.
Мы все расшифровщики краденых знаний.

Мы все самозванцами вышли в жрецы.
А что! Если грубых материй бормочет
язык, отзываясь на властное рцы,
то разве не нужен ему переводчик?

Вот ты и возносишься, гордая тварь
рассудка, над трепетной тварью безумий.
А вспомни, какой открывает словарь,
когда говорить начинает, Везувий.

Бореи удушат струю, а листву
обрушат. И почерком твердым, не смутно
безмолвье на девственном выведет лбу:
беда навсегда, утешенье минутно.

‘Soothe the rough trembling…’ (Sergei Merkul’ev)

October 18, 2014

Soothe the rough trembling of air
With a Dutch landscape and gradually sink into the picture,
Where the market is similar both to a church and a workshop…
What does the legless woman beseech her baby son for
On the floor to the rustle of the soles marching past?
A succulent blow of the axe carries
A sugary crunch of bones into the corner…And the baby
Is tearfully asking for something. But he legless woman is old,
Streaks of grey touch the baby’s wet cheeks.
From the gallery Christmas tinsel hangs down.
A snowstorm minces along in the distance.
The Dutch masters are invisibly
Present, as though come down from their canvases.
And the mistrustful Magi walk past in procession
Sorting roubles and fifty-kopeck pieces in their pockets.

Живописью голландской унять базарную дрожь
Воздуха и постепенно вникнуть в картину,
Где рынок сразу с храмом и цехом схож…
О чем безногая молит младенца-сына
На полу под шелест марширующих мимо подошв?..
Доносит в угол сочный удар топора
Сахарный хруст костей. А младенец просит
Слезно о чем-то. А безногая-то стара;
Влажных щек младенца касается проседь.
С хоров свисает рождественская мишура.
Метель семенит вдали.
Голландские мастера незримо
Присутствуют, будто с полотен своих сошли.
А недоверчивые волхвы шествуют мимо,
Перебирая в карманах полтинники и рубли

“When like stale crusts…” (Sergei Merkul’ev)

October 17, 2014

When like stale crusts
Cheap apartment houses fly through the flakes
Day cannot be shifted any more
By any blue
Of any windows
The building falls open
At a forgotten bookmark
You ask: Are we still
Someone’s fingerprints or
Is there another way of spelling
With a doorway echo
Steam falling asleep
A torn-off line
Of footprints

Когда черствые горбушки
Хрущевок летят сквозь хлопья
День уже не переводим
Никакой синькой
Никаких окон
Дом распахивается
На забытой закладке
Ты спрашиваешь: Мы все еще
Отпечатки чьих-то пальцев или
Есть другой
Способ правописанья
Дверным эхом
Засыпающим паром
Оборванной строчкой

‘Much life is still not art…’ (Aleksei Kubrik)

October 7, 2014

Much life is still not art.
And much death is still not poetry.
Extracting the body of a small mollusc
proved too difficult for me,
but, however, I bought them
and ate them in overcooked form
and dived for six-fingered starfish
and watched the sea more than the norm.

And I returned melancholy to Moscow.
I don’t know which is the place that I lack.
The one where, greeting a scarlet sun,
the wave just skirted my track
or the one with thief imitating thief
and dynasties of dead stuff a la carte
and a whole heap of noiseless answers.
And poetry lives quite apart.


Алексей Кубрик

Алексей Кубрик

Много жизни — ещё не искусство.
Много смерти — ещё не стихи.
Тельце маленького моллюска
было мне извлечь не с руки,
но, однако же, покупал их
и в подваренном виде ел,
и нырял за звездой шестипалой,
и на море всё дольше смотрел…

А вернулся в Москву печальным.
Я не знаю, где меня нет.
Там, где, солнце встречая алым,
мне волна огибала след,
или там, где и вор под вора,
и династии мёртвых блюд,
и беззвучных ответов ворох.
И стихи — отдельно живут.

Iphigenia in Aulis (Mariya Stepanova)

October 4, 2014

The action continues on the shore
War to the death, trenches, spears,
The yids occupy the left bank of the war
And on the right wall we have the queers.

The battle proceeds on foot, and it will never end,
It will grind and chew five hundred generations for a start
Like nuclear winter, it will have its own way
Because from the heavens the enemy cavalry descend
And from beneath the ground darkness holds sway
Wounding the heel and forcing the legs apart.

Each of us stands on this one or that one still
Each of us only laid down their arms later
Each of us, while we are still alive
Looks to where the Cossack ensigns confer
And others whistle and call as they drive
Where you become a poet against your will.

Take me as a yid or a queer
I’ve dreamed of that since I was in the third year:
Becoming for you a deer or a ram,
A fatted calf or a fat old cow,
A virgin miraculously appearing in a thicket!

With a sword in my breast I sing and do not die, a sacrifice
In the war taking place at the approaches to paradise.

Действие продолжается у воды,
Война не на жизнь, траншеи, мечи, кирасы,
Левый берег войны занимают жиды,
На правом стеной стоят пидорасы.

Эта битва идёт пешком, никогда не кончится,
Перемолет и зажуёт пятьсот поколений,
Настоит на своём, как ядерная зима,
Потому что с небес их атакует конница,
А из-под земли наступает тьма,
Уязвляя пяту и врозь разводя колени.

Каждый из нас стоит на том или этом.
Каждый из нас не сразу сложил оружие.
Каждый из нас, покуда ещё живые,
Смотрит туда, где советуются хорунжие,
Свищут и перекликаются ездовые,
Где поневоле делаешься поэтом.

Возьмите меня в жиды или пидорасы,
Я мечтаю об этом с третьего класса:
Стать за вас оленем или бараном,
Жертвенной тёлкой или толстою тёткой,
Девственницей, явленною в кустах!

Я с мечом в груди пою и не умираю
На войне, ведущейся на подступах к раю.

‘The dacha’s a good place…’ (Aleksei Mashevsky)

October 1, 2014

The dacha’s a good place for the end of the world,
With the radio signal weak and no sign of mail
Only in the mornings a magpie hops on the roof
Bringing us maybe fresh news on its tail.

Perhaps all the markets have collapsed at once
Martians have attacked Earth in battle array…
You read a book and walk with a bowl
Gathering the ripe cucumbers on your way.

A butterfly circles above a yellow iris
Sea-buckthorn clings at the boundary fence
What is it that still remains in this life
For a mortal to do, if he has any sense?

The threads we hang from are so delicate
And so is the vault of the heavens so blue
It’s just that for a time we stood to one side
But it will affect us, and any minute too.

Хорошо конец света встречать на даче:
Нет сети, а радио — не везде.
Лишь сорока утром по крыше скачет
И приносит новости на хвосте.

Может быть, обвалились все рынки разом,
Марсиан напала на Землю рать…
Ты читаешь книгу и ходишь с тазом
Огурцы созревшие собирать.

Бабочка над ирисом желтым вьется,
Облепиха лепится у межи.
В сущности, что смертному остается
В этой жизни делать еще, скажи?

Нити, на которых висим, так тонки,
Хрупок даже синий небесный свод.
Просто мы стояли пока в сторонке,
Но и нас коснется, и нас вот-вот.


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