Goliath’s Song

5 12 2010

This afternoon, together with a small group of Sydney Jews who love to hear themselves speak, I got to talk about myself in Hebrew to a representative of Israel’s Reshet Gimel radio station (!רק מוזיקה ישראלית), who recorded it for playback. While it was fun to speak a little Hebrew again, I thought I’d share the song that I chose to introduce. By 1970s Israeli rock band Kaveret, this song (שיר גוליית, “The Song of Goliath”) is one of my favourites.

The lyrics are as follows:

זהו שיר מאוד עצוב הנושא כזה כאוב,
אם תשים תחבושת, לא יעזור לך שנתיים.
הגיבור של הסיפור להגיד אותו אסור,
נגלה רק שהשם שלו כמו אפריים.

יום אביב בכפר קטן ציפורים שרות בגן,
נמלה עוברת אך המנגינה נשארת.
בחצר נולד תינוק ומיד התחיל לצעוק
“לא קוראים לי ‘פריים – שמי גוליית ולא אחרת!”

כל התנ”ך פחד ממנו כמו מפיל,
גיבורים ברחו הביתה,
לוחמים זייפו ת’גיל.
הם קראו לו “השד מאשקלון”.

בגנון אמר שלום ילדים עברו לדום,
בן חמש וכבר הספיק להביא הביתה סלע.
התאמן כל יום שעות בלהפריע לחיות,
יש אומרים היה לו קול נמוך מים המלח.

כל התנ”ך פחד ממנו כמו מפיל
גיבורים ברחו הביתה
לוחמים למדו חליל
הם קראו לו בשקט מרחוק.

הנה בא אלינו, בא אלינו
גולי, גוליית
מקווה שגם הפעם
הוא יחשוב אותי נחמד.
הנה בא אלינו, בא אלינו
גולי, גוליית,
מקוה שלא ידרוך עלי,
יעשה אותי גמד.

דוד מלך ישראל קם בבוקר לטייל,
מרחוק רואה המון סואן צועק “הצילו!”
בלי לחשוב יותר מיום התייצב על המקום,
חוץ משני גמלים וגדי עוד לא ידעו אז מיהו.

“בוא אלי, גוליית נחמד, שב אצלי על כף היד.”
“ככה מדברים?” שאל גוליית באשקלונית.
דוד מלך התעצבן, “הרוגטקה תנגן!”
אבן לעברו ירה, קלע לו בול בפוני.

כל התנ”ך אמר תודה והתרגש,
“אם תרצה להיות מלכנו,
תתקשר מחר בשש”
ומאז לא שמעו אותם אומרים,

הנה בא אלינו, בא אלינו
גולי, גוליית
מקווה שגם הפעם
הוא יחשוב אותי נחמד.
הנה בא אלינו, בא אלינו
גולי, גוליית,
מקוה שלא ידרוך עלי,
יעשה אותי גמד.

מקווה שלא ידרוך עלי
מקווה שלא יקפוץ עלי
הנה בא אלינו גוליית

Now, my intention was to also translate this into English, but when doing so I realised how absolutely stupid it sounds. Perhaps somebody funnier than I am can make something of this, but a literal translation is as follows:

This song is very sad; a topic like this, painful
If you use a bandaid you won’t take it off for weeks
The hero of our story – to speak of him is forbidden
We will only disclose that his name sounds like “Ephraim”.

One spring day in a small village, birds are singing in the yard
The ant goes by, but the melody remains
In the court a babe was born, and immediately began to shout,
“Don’t you call me ‘phraim – my name’s Goliath, nothing else!”

(Chorus:)
All of the Bible feared him like he was an elephant
Heroes ran home, while warriors lied about their age
They called him:
The demon of Ashkelon.

In kindergarten he’d say hello, and all the kids would snap to attention
At five years old he’d already stopped bringing rocks home
Every day he’d practise for hours without interrupting his lifestyle
Some say that his voice is lower than the Dead Sea.

(Chorus:)
All of the Bible feared him like he was an elephant
Heroes ran home, while warriors took up the flute
They called him
From a distance, rather quietly:

Here he comes to us, he comes to us
It’s Golly Goliath!
How I hope that yet again this time he looks on me with kindness
Here he comes to us, he comes to us
It’s Golly Goliath!
How I hope he doesn’t step on me and make of me a midget!

David King of Israel rose one morning for a journey
From a distance he did see much strife and so he shouted “Help them!”
Without thinking about it for more than a day, he stayed rooted to the spot
Except for a couple of camels and a goat, nobody saw who was there.

“Come to me, sweet Goliath, and sit on my hand”
“This is how they speak?” enquired Goliath in Ashkelonite
King David got irate and yelled out, “Little slingshot, time to dance!”
He slung a little stone and, clap, he got him in the bull’s eye.

(Chorus:)
All of the Bible said, why thank you, we’re impressed
If you want to be our ruler, pop in tomorrow around 6:00
And from henceforth, one never hears them say:

Here he comes to us, he comes to us
It’s Golly Goliath!
How I hope that yet again this time he looks on me with kindness
Here he comes to us, he comes to us
It’s Golly Goliath!
How I hope he doesn’t step on me and make of me a midget!

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8 responses

5 12 2010
Simon Holloway

By the way, I say that this is a literal translation, but I actually tweaked it in several instances in order to achieve (to the best of my ability) a metre similar to the Hebrew. Were I to spend longer with this, I am sure I could do a better job, but this is not the first time that I have found Kaveret to be particularly resistant to English translation.

8 12 2010
Daniel

Great translation of a great song!

8 12 2010
Daniel

By the way, it’s “already managed to bring a rock home”, not “already stopped bringing rocks home” …

8 12 2010
Simon Holloway

Why thank you. And really? הספיק? I think I must have subconsciously took it to be a metathesised form of הפסיק, because now that I look at it I realise that I’ve never seen ספק used as a verb. Yet the definition you provide is completely counter-intuitive for me, as I would think that it had something to do with causing people to doubt…?

20 03 2014
Alexander

as in מספיק

19 12 2010
Rochelle

Simon, thanks for the memories.

3 09 2012
20 03 2014
alexandermcdonell

here’s my translation – very free, but singable – feel free to make improvements:

Here’s a very sad song, so much pain it won’t be wrong
To put a bandage on and then to leave it there for years
The one of whom the story tells – we shouldn’t really speak of him
Let’s just say his name it sounds a little like ephraim.
One fine day the birds are out, winging softly through the trees
Singing sweetly to the ants and dancing to the music
In the house a baby cried, and shouted soon as it was born,
“My name is not Ephraim – Goliat is what I’m called

(Chorus:)
He terrified the people of the Bible and the land
Heroes ran and hid at home and lied about their age
They called him:
The Ashkeloni demon.

In kindy when he said hello, all the kids would line up fast
And stand up to attention until he wandered past
You’d find him lifting weights for fun, just a way to pass the time
And already his voice so low ‘twas deeper than the ocean.

(Chorus:)
He terrified the people of the Bible and the land
Heroes ran and hid at home and practiced on their flutes
They called him
From a distance, rather softly:

Here he comes, here he comes to us
It’s Golly Goliat!
How I hope that he will look on me with kindness once again
Here he comes, here he comes to us
It’s Golly Goliat!
How I hope he doesn’t step on me and squash me rather flat!

David King of Israel got up for a morning walk
Saw and heard the fighting and the people crying help me
Didn’t think for very long just a day while he wrote a song
only goats and camels truly realised who he was

“Come to me, sweet Goliat, come and sit upon my hand”
Goliat said something rather rude, you wouldn’t understand him
Little David got upset, Tells his slingshot “sic him Rex!”
Slung a little stone and, hits him right upon the forehead.

(Chorus:)
All of the Bible said, why thank you, we’re impressed
If you want to be our ruler, just telephone at 6:00
And now you never hear them say:

Here he comes, here he comes to us
It’s Golly Goliat!
How I hope that he will look on me with kindness once again
Here he comes, here he comes to us
It’s Golly Goliat!
How I hope he doesn’t step on me and squash me rather flat!

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