Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

Hebrew Poems from Spain

Introduction, Translation and Notes by David Goldstein
Forward by Raymond Scheindlin

The poems of the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry (950-1200) offer a vivid representation of contemporary Jewish life as well as a deep consciousness of Israel’s relationship with God and an intense concern with the fate of the Jewish people. This volume conveys the greatness of that literature through the work of thirteen poets.

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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.

 

About the translator

David Goldstein was Curator of Hebrew Books and Manuscripts at the British Library.  His translation of The Wisdom of the Zohar, also published by the Littman Library, was awarded the Webber Prize in 1987.

Raymond Scheindlin is Professor of Medieval Hebrew Literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

Contents

Introduction
Foreword by Raymond Scheindlin
A Note on the Translations
Bibliography

Dunash Halevi ben Labrat
Reply to an Invitation to a Feast | A Song for the Sabbath
Joseph ibn Abithur
Sanctification | A Song for the New Year | Lamentation on the Devastation of the Land of Israel (1012)
Isaac ibn Kalpon
A Present of Cheese
Samuel Hanagid
In Praise of Wine | An Invitation | The Power of the Pen | On the Death of his Brother | Man Runs Towards the Grave | The Old Man's Warning | The Hour in which I am | Two Bouts of Woe | I Look Up to the Sky | The Citadel | God's Assurance | The Victory over Ben Abbad | A Message to his Son, Joseph, on the Raising of the Siege of Lorca | War | Israel, Arise | The Wounded Lion
Solomon ibn Gabirol
An Apple for Isaac | The Writing of Winter | In Mourning for Yekutiel | On the Death of Rab hai | Separation from the Torah | His Illness | In the Morning I Look for you | The Unity of God
Isaac ibn Gi'at
The Greatness of God
Moses ibn Ezra
The Garden of Song | The Coming of Spring | The Sources of my Being | To Isaac, his Brother | Let Man Remember | Where are the Graves? | Slaves and Masters
Judah Halevi
Dialogue between Israel and God | Israel's Complaint | Curtains of Solomon | Save my People | The Servant of God | Heal me, my God | Singing God's Praises | My Heart is in the East | Jerusalem | Mount Avarim | Self-Exhortation to make the Journey to Israel | The Poet is Urged to Remain in Spain | The Pet Remembers his Home | The Poet Remembers his Family during a Storm at Sea | The Western Breeze | Storm at Sea | The Army of Old Age | To Moses ibn Ezra, in Christian Spain | Among the Jews of Seville | The Apple | My Love Washes her Clothes
Abraham ibn Ezra
Luckless | I Have a Garment | God Supreme | All Glory to his Name | How is it You have not Given this Thought? | On the Death of his Son, Isaac
Joseph ibn Zabara
The Doctor
Judah Alharizi
A Secret Kept | The Lute Sounds
Shem Tob ben Palquera
If Fear is like a Rock
Todros ben Judah Abulafia
From Prison

Notes
Index of First Lines (English)
Index of First Lines (Hebrew)