Flat for Rent (דירה להשכיר)

19 בינואר 2015 § השארת תגובה

Here is my attempt to translate this very classic Hebrew children's story by poetess Leah Goldberg. This rhymed allegorical story was first published in 1948 – in the newly-born State of Israel.

Flat for Rent

In a beautiful valley, between vines and moorlands,
A five-story tower there spaciously stands.
And who lives in the tower?

On the first floor, a fat hen.
All day in her home, rolling over in bed,
So fat is she, that she barely can tread.

On the second floor lives a cuckoo bird.
All day she travels, she walks here and there
To visit her children whose homes are elsewhere.

On the third floor, tidy black dandy kitten
Who garments her neck with a beautiful ribbon.

On the fourth floor Miss Squirrel abides,
Cracking her nuts with great appetite.

And on the fifth floor lives Mr. Mouse.
But a week ago, he packed his stuff, and left the house.
Nobody knows where and why.

The tenants wrote a sign
To be seen by all,
And nailed to the wall
To announce the event:
A Flat for Rent.

Hence from cities nearby and faraway states,
To the house come along all the new candidates.

First comes the ant, climbs the stairs, reads the sign,
And enters the flat to inspect if it’s fine.
From all the apartments the neighbors come lightly
To stand all around her and greet her politely:

– Do you like the rooms?
– I do.
– Do you like the kitchen?
– I do.
– Do you like the hallway?
– I do.
– Then settle in with us, ant!
– No, I will not settle.
– Why?

Says the ant:
– I do not like the neighbors. How shall I, the ant, live in the same house with a lazy hen?
All day long she is lying in bed, so very fat that she barely can tread.

The ant went, came the rabbit.
She quickly climbs the stairs, reads the sign,
Enters the flat to inspect if it’s fine.
From all the apartments the neighbors come lightly
To stand all around her and greet her politely:

– Do you like the rooms?
– I do.
– Do you like the kitchen?
– I do.
– Do you like the hallway?
– I do.
– Then settle in with us, rabbit!
– No, I will not settle.
– Why?
– I do not like the neighbors. How shall I dwell here, a mother of twenty children, alongside a cuckoo bird neglecting her own? In the nests of strangers they have all grown, all abandoned, all forlorn. What lesson will my children learn?

The cuckoo was insulted,
And the rabbit departed.

Departed the rabbit, entered pig – Mr. Swine.
“Flat for Rent”, thus he read on the sign.
And then with the heavy steps of a boar
He staggered upstairs and opened the door.
Standing and looking with eyes so small
At the windows, the ceiling, the wall.

From all the apartments the neighbors come lightly
To stand all around him and greet him politely:

– Do you like the rooms?
– I do.
– Do you like the kitchen?
– It’s quite nice I think, though it does not stink!
– Do you like the hallway?
– I do.
– Then settle in with us!
– No, I will not settle.
– Why?
– I do not like the neighbors. How shall I, a pig so white, whose ancestors have been white since the times of Eden, abide in one house with a black kitten! I do not like it and do not want it.

And the neighbors cried out:
– Go, go away, pig! Neither do we like you, nor want you.

The pig went away. In came the nightingale.

The nightingale sings with a voice so sweet
The nightingale climbs to the uppermost suite.
He reads the sign, he opens the door,
Looks at the flat, at the wall, at the floor…

From all the apartments the neighbors come lightly
To stand all around him and greet him politely:

– Do you like the rooms?
– I do.
– Do you like the kitchen?
– I do.
– Then settle in with us!
– No, I will not settle. I do not like the neighbors. For how can I peacefully dwell, alongside this nut-cracking squirrel? The cracking sound comes straight from hell, it’s terrible, my ears won’t prevail. They are used to other sounds, where beauty abounds.

Miss Squirrel was insulted, and the nightingale departed.

Nightingale departed, arrived the dove.
She quickly climbs the stairs, reads the sign,
Enters the flat to inspect if it’s fine.

From all the apartments the neighbors come lightly
To stand all around her and greet her politely:
– Do you like the rooms?

– The rooms are narrow.
– Do you like the kitchen?
– The kitchen is nice, but too small for the price.
– Do you like the hallway?
– Its walls aren’t bright, there’s not enough light.

– Well, then – you will not settle in with us?
– Oh, but I shall! I shall happily dwell, for the neighbors are nice:
The hen has feathers so fair,
The cuckoo – a beautiful bird,
The kitten – so tidy and neat,
The happy squirrel does know how to eat.
We can live here together, this much I can see,
Peaceful, relaxed, and in good company.

And so in this tower settled the dove,
She coos every day in the flat up above.

Thus in the valley, between vines and moorlands,
A five-story tower there peacefully stands.
And in the tower together abide
Good neighbors and friends with hearts open wide.

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מה זה?

כרגע אתה קורא את Flat for Rent (דירה להשכיר) ב-דמדומים וגמגומים.

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