Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Shir ha-Shayarah (The Caravan Song)

I had wanted to put up this post for Yom ha-Atzma’ut, but things got rather hectic. So here it is now.

The Caravan Song, an optimistic look at Israel’s immigrant roots and rebirth, appears on the joint album by Arik Einstein and Miki Gavrielov, Al Gevul ha-Or (On the Verge of Light, 1987).

This song contains several references to contemporary Israeli history and culture: the historical longing for Israel, the pioneers who drained the swamps, the refugees who came from Europe and Arab lands. The song mentions Kibbutz Degania in the north and Dimona, a development town in the Negev, in the same line.

Listeners familiar with Israeli history and culture will also pick out the first line of the Palmach anthem, Me-saviv yehom ha-sa’ar (Though the storm howl all around us).

And the old man who, the song promises, will be kept happy? He is none other than David Ben-Gurion himself, who felt so strongly about settling the Negev that he retired there with his wife Paula after leaving political life.

Another possible reference: “They won’t go on without us” could be a nod to another song on this album that achieved iconic status: Sa Le’at (Drive Slowly). (The line there is “They won’t start without us.”)

The Caravan Song
Lyrics: Eli Mohar
Music: Greek folk tune
Performed by Arik Einstein and Miki Gavrielov

We spoke languages without number
And hardly knew one another.
We left a great many places
For the only one we loved and longed for.
We left a great many places
And came here, to Israel.
And the caravan goes on
From the previous century.
The first arrivals are history now:
Farmers and pioneers
Who did tough, back-breaking work,
Never knowing where it would lead.
Now it is our turn,
And we have not been idle.
They won’t go on without us.
This is the adventure of our lives.
We slipped out of ghettos and camps
And came to swamps and wasteland.
From the furthest ends of Arabia, Russia and Poland,
We lit lamps in Dimona and Degania.
From the furthest ends of Arabia, Russia and Poland,
We lit lamps in Dimona and Degania.
From all the countries of the Diaspora,
Despite all the problems,
A nation was created and a country arose,
And a language that had lain dormant
Awoke to life once more
And keeps on talking and talking.
“Though the storm howl all around us”
And difficulties and sorrow abound,
There is still reason to rejoice:
We have plenty of courage and strength.
Look how Israel thrives all around us:
It is stronger than all our shortcomings.
[Elderly man:] And the Negev will bloom one day, too!
[Lead vocalist:] And we’ll be sure to make the Old Man happy.
The Negev will bloom one day, too,
And we’ll be sure to make the Old Man happy.
From all the countries of the Diaspora,
Despite all the problems,
A nation was created and a country arose,
And a language that had lain dormant
Awoke to life once more
And keeps on talking and talking.
“Though the storm howl all around us”
And difficulties and sorrow abound,
There is still reason to rejoice:
We have plenty of courage and strength.
And the caravan goes on
From the previous century.
The first arrivals are history now:
Farmers and pioneers
Who did tough, back-breaking work,
Never knowing where it would lead.
Now it is our turn,
And we have not been idle.
They won’t go on without us.
This is the adventure of our lives.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. Thanks for posting this.

    ReplyDelete

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