Hebrew Poems from Spain

BookHebrew Poems from Spain

Hebrew Poems from Spain

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


June 14th, 2007

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The years 950-1200 are often called the Golden Age of the Jews in Spain. During this period, the Jews reached a peak of achievement in all aspects of their life—political, spiritual, and cultural. They produced great works of literature and philosophy; their poetry represents a peak of literary achievement unparalleled in Hebrew until the twentieth century.

The poets of the Golden Age forged the language of the Hebrew Bible into a magnificent instrument for the expression of every facet of their experience--love and friendship, war and exile, philosophy and prayer. Their poems reflect their overarching consciousness of Israel’s relationship with God and their deep concern with the fate of the Jewish people in exile. Not until modern times did Hebrew poetic genius flourish again with such freedom and with such intensity.

This volume conveys in modern English something of the greatness of that literature while as far as possible preserving the poetic values and beauty of the Hebrew original. Brief notes on the work of each of the thirteen poets represented put the poems in their proper perspective and do much to elucidate their meaning.

The poets included are Dunash Halevi ben Labrat, Joseph ibn Abithur, Isaac ibn Kalpon, Samuel Hanagid, Solomon ibn Gabirol, Isaac ibn Gi’at, Moses ibn Ezra, Judah Halevi, Abraham ibn Ezra, Joseph ibn Zabara, Judah Alharizi, Shem Tob ben Palquera, and Todros ben Judah Abulafia.

‘Remains the only anthology in English devoted entirely to the Golden Age with selections from all the major and some minor poets presented in verse translations. The book is a gift to the academic world and to all readers interested in the literary achievements of the Jews.’ From the Foreword by Raymond Scheindlin


Author Information

David Goldstein, late Curator of Hebrew Books and Manuscripts at the British Library, was awarded the Webber Prize 1987 for this translation shortly before he died.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Title Page4
A Note on the Translations22
Dunash Ha-Levi Ben Labrat26
Reply to an Invitation to a Feast28
A Song for the Sabbath30
Joseph Ibn Abithur32
A Song for the New Year36
Lament on the Devastation of the Land of Israel (1012)38
Isaac Ibn Kalpon40
A Present of Cheese42
Samuel Ha-Nagid44
In Praise of Wine46
An Invitation47
The Power of the Pen48
On the Death of his Brother49
Man Runs towards the Grave52
The Old Man's Warning53
The Hour in which I am54
Two Bouts of Woe55
I Look up to the Sky56
The Citadel57
God's Assurance58
The Victory over Ben Abbad59
A Message to his Son, Joseph, on the Raising of the Siege of Lorca68
Israel, Arise71
The Wounded Lion72
Solomon Ibn Gabirol74
An Apple for Isaac76
The Writing of Winter77
In Mourning for Yekutiel78
On the Death of Rab Hai79
Separation from the Torah80
His Illness81
In the Morning I Look for you82
The Unity of God83
Isaac Ibn Gi' at84
The Greatness of God86
Moses Ibn Ezra88
The Garden of Song90
The Coming of Spring91
The Sources of my Being92
To Isaac, his Brother94
Let Man Remember98
Where are the Graves?99
Slaves and Masters100
Judah Ha-Levi102
Dialogue between Israel and God104
Israel's Complaint106
Curtains of Solomon107
Save my People108
The Servant of God109
Heal me, my God111
Singing God's Praise112
My Heart is in the East113
Mount A varim115
Self-Exhortation to make the Journey to Israel116
The Poet is Urged to Remain in Spain119
The Poet Remembers his Home122
The Poet Remembers his Family during a Storm at Sea124
The Western Breeze126
Storm at Sea127
The Army of Old Age128
To Moses ibn Ezra, in Christian Spain129
Among the Jews of Seville130
The Apple132
My Love Washes her Clothes133
Abraham Ibn Ezra134
I Have a Garment137
God Supreme138
All Glory to his Name139
How is it You have not Given this Thought?140
On the Death of his Son, Isaac142
Joseph Ibn Zabara144
The Doctor146
Judah Al-Harizi148
A Secret Kept150
The Lute Sounds151
Shem Tob Ben Palquera152
If Fear is like a Rock154
Todros Ben Judah Abulafia156
From Prison158
Index of First Lines (English)186
Index of First Words (Hebrew)188