Selected Religious Poems of Solomon ibn Gabirolby Solomon ibn Gabirol
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POETRY, philosophy, and science, apparently three distinct fields of intellectual endeavor, are essentially but three different manifestations of the same spiritual force, which urges man onward to search for the solution of the riddle of existence. Science attacks the problem from the physical side; philosophy grapples with it from the rational, or mental side; poetry tries to penetrate the mystery with its vision.
Poetry need not necessarily reveal itself through the art of versification. The astronomer whose eye sweeps through the vast vacancies of space and whose ear catches the harmony of the spheres, the mathematician who calculates the eons, and the physicist who measures the electron and weighs the sun are indeed greater poets than those who merely compose melodious lines. On the other hand, the great poet, who ascends by the light of the divine fire within him to the heights of Pisgah, whence he may look at life from a higher altitude and see it more complete, more in its totality, often catches in a flash of inspiration that which it takes the scientific investigator years of painstaking labor to discover. The difference between those three seekers after truth is only in the method. The aim is the same?to penetrate the veil that hides from us the ultimate truth of life.
That none of them has ever succeeded, or is ever likely to succeed, in lifting the veil that shrouds the great mystery, matters not. The effort in itself is of the greatest moment to mankind. The ceaseless striving and unquenchable yearning after the ultimate truth leaves us at least nobler and purer for the attempt. It also matters little to us when the poet or philosopher or investigator lived. Their achievements are ever present, ever exerting their influences. If the law of motion holds good in the physical world, it holds still stronger in the world of ideas. An idea once set in motion will travel onward and onward and will gain in momentum as it proceeds on its course down the ages. The great poet therefore does not live for his own time. His mission is for all times.
- Library of Alexandria
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