The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492 [NOOK Book]


Hebrew culture experienced a renewal in medieval Spain that produced what is arguably the most powerful body of Jewish poetry written since the Bible. Fusing elements of East and West, Arabic and Hebrew, and the particular and the universal, this verse embodies an extraordinary sensuality and intense faith that transcend the limits of language, place, and time.

Peter Cole's translations reveal this remarkable poetic world to English readers in all of its richness, humor, grace, ...

See more details below
The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - Course Book)
$18.49 price
(Save 33%)$27.95 List Price


Hebrew culture experienced a renewal in medieval Spain that produced what is arguably the most powerful body of Jewish poetry written since the Bible. Fusing elements of East and West, Arabic and Hebrew, and the particular and the universal, this verse embodies an extraordinary sensuality and intense faith that transcend the limits of language, place, and time.

Peter Cole's translations reveal this remarkable poetic world to English readers in all of its richness, humor, grace, gravity, and wisdom. The Dream of the Poem traces the arc of the entire period, presenting some four hundred poems by fifty-four poets, and including a panoramic historical introduction, short biographies of each poet, and extensive notes. (The original Hebrew texts are available on the Princeton University Press Web site.) By far the most potent and comprehensive gathering of medieval Hebrew poems ever assembled in English, Cole's anthology builds on what poet and translator Richard Howard has described as "the finest labor of poetic translation that I have seen in many years" and "an entire revelation: a body of lyric and didactic verse so intense, so intelligent, and so vivid that it appears to identify a whole dimension of historical consciousness previously unavailable to us." The Dream of the Poem is, Howard says, "a crowning achievement."

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Eric Ormsby
Virtually stagnant since late Biblical times, Hebrew poetry and the language itself would be transformed by a succession of poets of genius and their imitators. In Peter Cole’s rich new anthology, the extent of their astonishing achievement is fully revealed for the first time in English.
— The New York Times
Praise for Peter Cole's Selected Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol and Selected Poems of Shmuel HaNagid (both Princeton):"Cole's translations . . . shimmer: they convey the power and mystique of the original.
Praise for Peter Cole's Selected Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol and Selected Poems of Shmuel HaNagid (both Princeton): "Fresh, worldly, intimate, and wise.
The Dream of the Poem offers English readers a substantial, unfailingly elegant anthology of medieval Hebrew poetry in translation. Overall, it is a remarkable achievement. . . . [I]t brings to life a world we have long yearned to share more eloquently with those who could not read it for themselves.
— Susan L. Einbinder
New York Times Book Review
Virtually stagnant since late Biblical times, Hebrew poetry and the language itself would be transformed by a succession of poets of genius and their imitators. In Peter Cole's rich new anthology, the extent of their astonishing achievement is fully revealed for the first time in English.... His versions are masterly.
— Eric Ormsby
Times Literary Supplement
...[Cole] has performed an enormous service and produced a book which is by turns moving, charming, and funny. No one after this will be able to write a book on medieval poetry without taking the Hebrew and Arabic poets of Spain into account.
— Gabriel Josipovici
New York Review of Books
Perpetually astonishing. The central figures in Peter Cole's anthology are great by any standards.... [They] provoke love in any reader of Hebrew literature, and by [a] miracle of Cole's own creation, in any reader of little or no Hebrew who directly confronts the work of this major poet-translator.... Superb.
— Harold Bloom
Meticulously edited and captivating anthology.... [P]oetic scholarship at its best.... [A] major translation project.
— Marjorie Perloff
American Poet
Traversing five centuries, four hundred poems, and fifty poets, the anthology represents a remarkable literature that evolved and flourished between the East and the West, between sacred and the profane, and amid the collision and collusion of traditions, religions, and languages . . . all bolstered by Cole's extensive introductions, biographies, commentary, and glossaries.
Journal of Jewish Studies
The anthology appears in a series devoted to translated poetry, and is designed to be accessible to general readers. Yet it is also suitable for use as a course book: there are helpful introductions and annotations, and the publisher has made the Hebrew originals available on-line. The book is a true labour of love, and should win new readers to this wonderfully rich body of poetry.
— Nicholas De Lange
Bomb Magazine
Peter Cole offers us an unprecedented gift, bringing to life a body of Hebrew poetry that, wrote Harold Bloom, can at its best 'rival the magnificences of Scripture'....[Cole's] achievement in bringing us this volume is as death-defying an act as any ever undertaken by the poets he presents within its pages.
— Esther Allen
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400827558
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/10/2009
  • Series: Lockert Library of Poetry in Translation
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 576
  • File size: 24 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Peter Cole is a poet and translator of Hebrew and Arabic poetry. He has received numerous awards for his work, including prizes from the "Times Literary Supplement" and the Modern Language Association, and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Winner of the 2004 PEN-America Translation Award, he lives in Jerusalem, where he coedits Ibis Editions. He was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2007.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

The Dream of the Poem

Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492

Princeton University Press

Copyright © 2007 Princeton University Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-691-12195-6


'THE SPANISH MIRACLE-" three words were all it took S. D. Goitein, the great historian of medieval Mediterranean society, to sum up the phenomenon that was the Golden Age of Hebrew poetry in Iberia. The emergence in the tenth century of this vibrant Hebrew literature seemed miraculous to Goitein, as it has to so many others who have come to know it well, because the poetry appeared virtually full-blown, at the far western edge of the medieval Jewish world, after more than a millennium of almost exclusively liturgical and ingrown poetic activity in the language. Suddenly, for the first time since the apocryphal Book of Ben Sira, Hebrew poets were writing with tremendous power about a wide range of subjects, including wine, war, friendship, erotic longing, wisdom, fate, grief, and both metaphysical and religious mystery. They did so in a variety of sophisticated modes, taken over for the most part from the by-then well-established tradition of Arabic verse, onto which they grafted a biblical vocabulary and a potent Hebraic mythopoetic vision. The best of that radically new secular and religious verse produced in Muslim Andalusia and Christian Spain ranks with the finest poetry of the European Middle Ages-or, for that matter, of anymedieval era. Embodying an extraordinary sensuality and an intense faith that reflected contemporary understanding of the created world and its order, this curiously alloyed poetry confronts the twenty-first-century reader with a worldview and aesthetic that in many respects defy modern oppositional notions of self and other, East and West, Arab and Christian and Jew, as it flies in the face of our received sense of what Hebrew has done and can do, and even what Jewishness means. At the same time, its densely woven brocade, deriving as it does from the charged culture of Spanish convivencia, or coexistence, can speak with startling directness to us today, when identities are increasingly compounded and borders easily crossed. For in opening their lives to the entire expanse of Greco-Arabic and Hebrew learning, the dictionally pure Jewish poets of Cordoba, Granada, and Saragossa carried out an act of profound, if paradoxical, cultural redemption. As they translated both the essence of their knowledge and the effects of Arabic poetry into an innovative Hebrew verse-and in the process risked loss of linguistic and religious self to immersion in the foreign-the Hebrew poets of Spain found, or founded, one of the most powerful languages of Jewish expression postbiblical literature has known.

A Paradise Grove

The trail of that hybrid verse leads back to the middle of the tenth century, when a young Moroccan poet with the Berber name of Dunash Ben Labrat arrived in Cordoba. Dunash had made his way to Iberia from Baghdad, where he was studying with the greatest Jewish figure of his day, Sa'adia Ben Yosef al-Fayuumi. From Sa'adia, who was the gaon, or head, of the Babylonian Jewish academy of Sura from 928 to 942, Dunash had absorbed a keen appreciation of Arabic and its notion of fasaaha (elegance, clarity, or purity), as well as its importance for the understanding of Hebrew-and especially Hebrew Scripture. Armed with that passion and the learning it led to, Dunash was importing to Spain a trunkful of new poetic strategies that would-whether he meant them to or not- soon change the face of Hebrew literature. While the process of that change remains obscure, the city of Cordoba clearly lay at its heart.

In wandering westward Dunash was trading one metropolis for another. Over the course of nearly two centuries Abbasid Baghdad had come to be considered the most spectacular city in the world. There, in a cultural vortex of extraordinary force, men of letters took in through translation the vast intellectual treasures of Greek and Persian antiquity, along with those of India (and perhaps China). Arabic literature flourished, as major poets refined their verse with a complex array of formal and thematic modes. By the mid-tenth century, Cordoba under the blue-eyed Umayyad caliph of Spanish-Basque descent, 'Abd al-Rahmaan III (r. 912-61), was in many ways a Western version of the Round City of Peace on the Tigris, and a rival in splendor to Constantinople. It too was a city of great sophistication and diversity: Jews, Muslims, and Christians contributed to its prosperity, and ethnic division between and within these communities was-for a time-held at bay. Centralized administration constructed on Abbasid, Byzantine, and Persian models was improved- with, for instance, a well-maintained and policed network of roads and regular postal service (using carrier pigeons) linking the seat of the government and the provinces. The economy thrived, as the so-called Green Revolution of Muslim Spain increased cultivation of the land. Advanced irrigation techniques brought from the east led Arab chroniclers of the day to describe the elaborate systems of canals and the thousands of water wheels that dotted the landscape. A near-alphabet of crops were imported, including apricots, artichokes, bananas, carrots, eggplants, figs, hard wheat, lemons, oranges, parsnips, peaches, pomegranates, rice, saffron, spinach, sugarcane, and watermelon-our words for which derive, in many cases, from the Arabic: naranj, ruzz, za'afraan, sukkar, sabaanakh.

Commerce boomed, and al-Andalus became known for the goods it produced. Paper, wool, silk, cotton (qutn), linen fabrics, and much more were exported-Goitein called medieval Mediterranean trade in textiles the equivalent of the twentieth-century steel industry or stock market - along with agricultural products and slaves. Imports included aromatic wood and spices from India and China; slaves from France and northern Europe; horses from North Africa and the Arabian peninsula; marble from Greece, Syria, Italy, and the Maghreb; singing girls and volumes of songs from Iraq; books and manuscripts from Cairo and Alexandria; and carpets from Persia. Power was maintained by an enormous army and fleet (the latter, it's said, the largest in the world at its time)-manned by a mix of Arabs, Berbers, Christians, and foreign mercenaries or purchased Slavs-and the kingdom was gradually enlarged. Arms factories near Cordoba reportedly produced some one thousand bows and twenty thousand arrows a month, and fortresses sprang up across the landscape as revenues from the new conquests filled the treasury. Above all, Andalusian culture flourished, having come a long way from the pioneer coarseness of the soldiers who had settled the peninsula in the early eighth century, when Taariq Ibn Ziyaad crossed the straits and landed at the rock he called Jabal al-Taariq (Taariq's mountain), the collapsed Romanized form of which yields our Gibraltar. Two hundred years of Muslim rule, beginning with the stabilizing reign of 'Abd al-Rahmaan I (r. 756-88), had seen Spain develop from a provincial outpost at the ends of the empire to a major Mediterranean power. The learned and pious 'Abd al-Rahmaan II (r. 822-52) established a brilliant formal court on the eastern caliphal model, expanded the city's great mosque, and built many smaller mosques, palaces, baths, roads, bridges, and gardens. He also began developing Cordoba's library, which in time would become the largest by far in medieval Europe. (Under 'Abd al-Rahmaan III's son and successor, al-Hakam II [r. 961-76], it held some 400,000 volumes.) Book buyers were sent to all ends of the Islamic empire, and back in Cordoba a team of calligraphers was maintained for "the rapid multiplication of new acquisitions." Smaller private and public libraries were common, and the bibliomaniacal capital hosted a huge book market, which employed some seventy copyists for the Quran alone-including many women. Women also worked as librarians, teachers, doctors, and lawyers. The new urban wonder acted as a magnet for poets and musicians in particular, the most prominent of whom was the Persian musician Ziryaab, who-legend has it-had fallen out of favor at the ninth-century Abbasid court and decided to try his luck in the West. With him Ziryaab brought the refinements of cosmopolitan Baghdad, including new hairstyles (showing the neck), seasonal wardrobes, the use of toothpaste and deodorants, orchestrated multi-course meals (at which asparagus was served), and, more to the point, his prodigious knowledge of music, poetry, art, and science. Arabic itself spread slowly but with remarkable effect, and by the mid-tenth century Jews, Christians, North-African Berber Muslims, and Christian converts were competing with the Arabs themselves for mastery of that most beautiful of languages, which became both the lingua franca of al-Andalus and the currency of high culture. Under the leadership of 'Abd al-Rahmaan III, who saw his kingdom's diversity as its strength and managed to unite the disparate communities of al-Andalus, Cordoba's population swelled, with immigrants streaming to the clean, well-lit streets of the city that one Christian poet described as "the ornament of the world."

While the Umayyad capital resembled Baghdad in almost every respect, Jewish society in al-Andalus had begun to take on a different cast from that of the socially conservative world of Babylonian Jewry. Oppressed for well over a century by the Visigothic rulers of Hispania, Jews had welcomed the Muslim invaders as saviors and no doubt proved valuable allies to the conquering foreigners, who knew neither the lay nor the language of the land. Arabic sources confirm this cooperation and note that Jews were often settled in conquered towns and entrusted with their garrisons, as the Muslim army advanced. While there were still hardships to bear, life in eighth-century Muslim Spain offered Jews opportunities they could not have dreamed of under the Visigoths. As people of the book (ahl alkitaab), Jews-like Christians-were accorded dhimmi, or protected, status. Enforcement of the regulations governing dhimmis, which varied throughout the Muslim world, were for the first several centuries relaxed in Spain, and the rate of Jewish conversion seems to have been quite low. Little by little Jews adopted Arab ways of dressing and speaking-as well as of shopping, eating, reading, singing, composing music, and writing- and they were allowed to practice an array of occupations. They farmed and owned land, managed vineyards, olive groves, and workshops, and eventually worked in medicine, textile production, trade, and even in government service. Synagogues were built and communities prospered, and Spanish Jewry enjoyed a kind of limited autonomy within the Muslim emirate. It wasn't long before North African Jews who had fled the Visigoths began returning to their homes. By the time Dunash arrived in Cordoba, Jewish intellectual life in the city was also stirring. The driving force behind that awakening was a gifted Jewish physician, Hasdai Ibn Shaprut (c. 910-75), who is the first Spanish Jew to be mentioned by name in the Arab records of the day. Born to a wealthy family that had moved to Cordoba from Jaén, on the eastern coast of Spain, Hasdai demonstrated a talent for languages, early on learning Arabic, Latin, and Romance (proto-Spanish), as well as Hebrew and Aramaic. His passion, however, was medicine, and while still a young man he acquired a measure of fame as a Cordovan physician. When, around 940, he announced that he had succeeded in compounding theriaca, a Roman miracle drug whose formula had been lost for centuries, he was summoned to an audience with the caliph and added to the ranks of his court physicians. Hasdai continued to impress 'Abd al-Rahmaan III with both his knowledge and his way with people, and soon he was appointed to the shipping division of the customs bureau, where he supervised the collection of duties from ships entering and leaving Andalusia's busy ports. From time to time the caliph also consulted Hasdai about diplomatic affairs, taking advantage of his linguistic range and his tact, and the Jewish physician helped receive delegations from the German emperor Otto I and Ordoño III, king of León, with whom he negotiated a peace treaty and whose heir (Sancho) he successfully treated for obesity. 'Abd al-Rahmaan III also appointed Hasdai to the position of nasi, or head of Andalusian Jewry, over which he had supreme authority. As nasi Hasdai engaged in foreign Jewish affairs, writing to Helena, the wife of the Byzantine emperor, asking her to protect the Byzantine Jewish community from persecution. He maintained ties with the communities of Palestine and Babylonia and sought out contact with the Khazars-the independent kingdom of Jewish converts on the plains between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains-at one stage exchanging letters with the Khazar king. As his position in the caliph's court solidified, he began to sponsor a court of his own, which he developed along the Muslim model. He supported Jewish intellectuals in a number of fields, from religious studies to science and literature. He commissioned the copying and import of books, encouraged the immigration of scholars to al-Andalus, and, over a period of some fifty years, catalyzed Spain's development as a center of Jewish culture-no longer reliant on the eastern academies. Like the Arab Andalusian courts of the time, Hasdai's had its poet. Menahem Ben Saruq was born-probably around the turn of the millennium-to a Tortosan family of modest means and came as a young man to Cordoba, which had much more to offer an aspiring intellectual than did the remote northeastern town of his birth. He was supported in the capital by Hasdai's father, Yitzhaq, while he pursued philological studies and served as the aristocratic family's house poet, composing verse to mark special occasions. In time he returned to his home in the north, where he set himself up in business, but after Hasdai's appointment to 'Abd al-Rahmaan's service, the nasi wrote to Menahem and asked him to return to Cordoba and take up a position as his Hebrew secretary. It was, in fact, Menahem who wrote to Byzantium in 948, and to the Khazar king several years later, on which occasion he described al-Andalus:

The country in which we dwell is called in the sacred tongue Sefarad, but in the language of the Arabs ... al-Andalus. The land is fat, and rivers and springs and quarried cisterns abound. Wheat and corn cover the fields, the yield of which is great. And pleasant groves and gardens of various sorts are found. All kinds of fruit trees flourish, and trees on whose leaves the silk worms feed, and silkworms we have aplenty. On our hills and in our forests the crimson worm is gathered. Saffron covers our slopes and mountains. Veins of silver and gold can be found ... and from our mountains copper is mined, and iron and tin and lead, along with sulfur, marble, porphyry and crystal ... for which merchants come from all corners of the land. And from every region and the distant islands of the sea, traders stream to it, from Egypt and the adjacent countries, bringing perfumes and spices, and precious gems.

The letter was prefaced by an impressive quasi-martial panegyric with messianic overtones. We also know that Menahem composed poems in praise of Hasdai and others, and on the death of both of Hasdai's parents-though these did little to win the affection of his patron, who seems at best to have tolerated his poet and scribe, and failed to provide him with the sort of remuneration he had promised.


Excerpted from The Dream of the Poem Copyright © 2007 by Princeton University Press . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

To the Reader xxi
Acknowledgments xxiii
Introduction 1

PART ONE: Muslim Spain (c. 950-c. 1140)

DUNASH BEN LABRAT 23 Fragment 24 Blessing for a Wedding 24 Drink, He Said 24

THE WIFE OF DUNASH 27 Will Her Love Remember? 27

YITZHAQ IBN MAR SHA'UL 28 A Fawn Sought in Spain 28

YOSEF IBN AVITOR 30 Lament for the Jews of Zion 31 A Curse 32 A Plea 33 Hymn for the New Year 33

YITZHAQ IBN KHALFOUN 35 Love in Me Stirs 35 A Gift of Cheese 36

SHMU'EL HANAGID 37 On Fleeing His City 38 The Miracle at Sea 40 The Apple 44 The Gazelle 45 Jasmine 45 In Fact I Love That Fawn 45 Mixed in Spain 46 Your Years Are Sleep 46 The House of Prayer 47 The Critique 48 On Lifting the Siege 49 The War with Yaddayir 50 On the Death of Isaac, His Brother 53 First War 58 I'd Suck Bitter Poison 59 Delay Your Speech 59 The Rich 59 People Welcome the Rich 60 If You Leave a Long-Loved Friend 60 You Who'd Be Wise 60 When You're Desperate 61 It's Heart That Discerns 61 He'll Bring You Trouble 61 Could Kings Right a People Gone Bad 61 What's Familiar Is Sometimes Distanced 62 One Who Works and Buys Himself Books 62 Three Things 62 Soar, Don't Settle 62 Man's Wisdom Is in What He Writes 63 Be Glad, She Said 63 The Multiple Troubles of Man 63 Gazing through the Night 64 Earth to Man 65 The Child at One or Two 65 I Quartered the Troops for the Night 66 Luxuries Ease 66 Why Repeat the Sins 67 At the Treasury 67 Know of the Limbs 67 You Mock Me Now 68 Time Defies and Betrays 68 The Market 68

YOSEF IBN HASDAI 70 The Qasida 71

SHELOMO IBN GABIROL 74 Truth Seekers Turn 75 I'm Prince to the Poem 76 Prologue to The Book of Grammar 76 They Asked Me as though They Were Mystified 77 See the Sun 78 On Leaving Saragossa 78 My Heart Thinks as the Sun Comes Up 81 Now the Thrushes 81 Winter with Its Ink 82 The Garden 82 The Field 83 The Bee 83 I'd Give Up My Soul Itself 84 Be Smart with Your Love 84 All in Red 85 You've Stolen My Words 85 The Altar of Song 85 The Pen 86 If You'd Live among Men 86 I Am the Man 86 Heart's Hollow 88 I Love You 89 Before My Being 90 Three Things 90 I Look for You 91 Open the Gate 91 The Hour of Song 92 Send Your Spirit 92 Angels Amassing 93 And So It Came to Nothing 94 He Dwells Forever 95 Haven't I Hidden Your Name 97 Lord Who Listens 98 I've Made You My Refuge 98 You Lie in My Palace 99 From Kingdom's Crown 99

YITZHAQ IBN GHIYYAT 111 My Wandering 112

YOSEF IBN SAHL 114 The Fleas 114 Your Poem, My Friend 115 A Complaint about the Rich 115

LEVI IBN ALTABBAAN 117 Utter His Oneness 117 Exposed 118

BAHYA IBN PAQUDA 119 Duties of the Heart 119 MOSHE IBN EZRA 121 Weak with Wine 122 The Garden 123 Bring Me My Cup 123 A Shadow 123 The Fawn 124 The Garden, the Miser 124 The Pen 125 Heart's Desire 125 That Bitter Day 127 Let Man Remember 127 The Dove 127 Why Does Time Hound Me So 128 Ancient Graves 128 If You See Me 129 Ivory Palaces 129 The World 130 My Heart's Secret 130 I Roused My Thoughts from Slumber 130 Let Man Wail 132 On the Death of His Son 132 The Blind 133 The Gazelle's Sigh 133 Gold 134 The Day to Come 134 At the Hour of Closing 135

YOSEF IBN TZADDIQ 137 A Wedding Night's Consolation 137 Lady of Grace 139

SHELOMO IBN TZAQBEL 141 Lines Inscribed on an Apple 142 Note to a Suitor Now Perplexed 142 A Fawn with Her Lashes 142

YEHUDA HALEVI 143 That Night a Gazelle 145 A Doe Washes 146 If Only Dawn 146 That Day while I Had Him 146 Another Apple 146 To Ibn al-Mu'allim 147 If Only I Could Give 147 Epithalamium 149 When a Lone Silver Hair 149 If Time 150 Inscriptions on Bowls 150 Four Riddles 150 Departure 151 On Friendship and Time 152 Slaves of Time 154 Heal Me, Lord 154 True Life 154 The Morning Stars 155 His Thresholds 155 Where Will I Find You 155 You Knew Me 156 A Doe Far from Home 156 A Dove in the Distance 157 You Slept, Then Trembling Rose 158 Love's Dwelling 158 Lord, 159 If Only I Could Be 160 Won't You Ask, Zion 162 My Heart Is in the East 164 How Long Will You Lie 164 Heart at Sea 165 My Soul Longed 167 Has a Flood Washed the World 167 In the Heart 168 Above the Abyss 168 Time Has Tossed Me 168 Be with Me 169 Along the Nile 169 This Breeze 170

PART TWO: Christian Spain and Provence (c. 1140-1492)

AVRAHAM IBN EZRA 173 Fortune's Stars 174 How It Is 175 A Cloak 175 The Flies 176 World Poetry 176 All the Rest Is Commentary 177 I. The Flood 177 II. Reading Exodus 177 III. The Miracle (at Lehi) 177 Pleasure 177 In Place 177 The Wedding Night, Continued 178 An Ancient Battle 179 Lament for Andalusian Jewry 181 Elegy for a Son 182 My Hunger 184 Sent Out from the Glory 184 Lord, I Have Heard 184 My God, 185 To the Soul 185 Blessèd Is He Who Fears 186 I Bow Down 188 Children of Exile 189 I Call to Him 189 You Whose Hearts Are Asleep 190

YITZHAQ IBN EZRA 192 On the Death of Yehuda HaLevi 193 Over His Boy 194 Conversion 195

YOSEF QIMHI 196 Love for the World 197 Always Be Vigilant 197 Consider This 197 Suffer Your Sorrow 197 On Wisdom 198 If You Hear Someone Insult You 198 Wait and Be Saved 198 Wealth 199 Silence and Speech 199

YOSEF IBN ZABARA 200 Sweet and Sour 201 My Ex 201 Look at These People 202 The Physician 202

ANATOLI BAR YOSEF 203 The Test of Poetry 203 Motto 204

YEHUDA IBN SHABBETAI 205 From The Offering of Yehuda the Misogynist 206 I. Pharaoh's Wisdom 206 II. The Misogynist in Love 206 III. A Raised Offering 207 IV. Two Things 207 V. The Sage Lies 207

YEHUDA ALHARIZI 208 Born to Baseness 209 The Hypocrite 210 The Jerk 210 A Miser in Mosul 210 The Miser 211 On Zion's Holy Hill 211 Boys: Two Poems 212 I. If Amram's Son 212 II. An Answer 212 Masters of Song 212 Measure for Measure 212 A Lover Wandered 213 How Long, My Fawn 213 Curses' Composition 213 A Flashing Sword 214 Palindrome for a Patron 214 A Poem No Patron Has Ever Heard 215 Admiration for the Patron Again I'll Prove 215 Two Poems on Karaism 215 I. For 215 II. Against 216 Virtue 216 I'll Set Out a Verse and Lay the Foundation . . . 216

YA'AQOV BEN ELAZAR 218 The Hypocrite's Beard 219 Four Poems on Subtle Love 220 I. The Doe 220 II. A Kiss 220 III. A Lover's Transgression 220 IV. Spats and Squabbles 220

AVRAHAM IBN HASDAI 221 Watch Out 222 ProPortion 222 Age as Author 222 Which Is More Bitter 223 The Lying Word 223 The Monk's Advice 223 Advice for a Future King 223 I. Wisdom's Mantle 223 II. Don't Believe 224 III. The Hyssop and the Cedar 224

MEIR HALEVI ABULAFIA 225 Plea for a Tax Break 226 (L)attitude 226 Fighting Time 226

YITZHAQ HASNIRI 227 On the Worship of Wood and a Fool 228

MESHULLAM DEPIERA 229 The Poet 230 On a New Book by Maimonides 230 Before You Take Up Your Pen 230 How Could You Press for Song 231 As One with the Morning Stars 232

MOSHE BEN NAHMAN (NAHMANIDES) 233 Before the World Ever Was 234 From "One Hundred Verses" 237 SHEM TOV IBN FALAQERA 240 Career Counseling 241 A Mystery 241 On Poets and Poetry 241 Why God Made You 242 The Fool Thinks 242 Poverty's War 242

YITZHAQ IBN SAHULA 243 The Cynic Speaks 244 On Humility 244

AVRAHAM ABULAFIA 245 From The Book of the Letter 247

AVRAHAM BEN SHMU'EL 252 To Whom among the Avengers of Blood 253 YOSEF GIQATILLA 254 The Nut Garden 255

TODROS ABULAFIA 256 I've Labored in Love 258 She Said She Wanted 258 The Day You Left 258 That Fine Gazelle 259 They Fight with Me over Desire 259 That Girl Emerged 259 May My Tongue 259 There's Nothing Wrong in Wanting a Woman 260 Strong Poet, Weak Poet 260 Plaster and Pearls 261 Nothing Left to Say 261 Teachers and Writers 261 Before the King 262 My King 262 Poems from Prison 262 I. As Love Lives 262 II. Treacherous Time 263 III. The Filthy Lay in Darkness with Me 263 IV. My Rings Have Fallen 263 V. Is It the Lord 264 Time Tries as I Drift 264 The Sea Casts Up Mire and Mud 264 On a Bible Written by Shmu'el HaNagid 265 Time Spreads Its Nets 265 Old Age Is Double-Edged 266 Perversion's Pigeons 266 My Thinking Wove 266 The Lord Is Good and So I'm Tormented 267 Defiled and Pure Are One 267 On Hearing Church Bells 267 I Take Delight in My Cup and Wine 268

NAHUM 270 Winter Has Waned 270

AVRAHAM HABEDERSHI 272 Why the Poet Refuses to Fight 273 Your Muse 273 Lament for a Foe 274 The Poet's Distress 274

YITZHAQ HAGORNI 275 Would You Tell Me 276 HaGorni's Lament 276

YEDAYA HAPENINI 278 The World Is a Raging Sea 279

AVNER [OF BURGOS?] 281 The Last Words of My Desire 282

QALONYMOS BEN QALONYMOS 284 On Becoming a Woman 285

YITZHAK POLGAR 287 Faith's Philosophy, Philosophy's Faith 288

SHEM TOV ARDUTIEL (SANTOB DE CARRIÓN) 289 From The Battles of the Pen and the Scissors 290 I. Writer, You Hold 290 II. To Praise the Pen 291 III. Tomorrow I'll Write 291 IV. Enter the Scissors 291 V. Work I Was Cut Out to Do 291 VI. The Pen Fights Back 292 VII. The Scissors Longed 292

SHMU'EL IBN SASSON 293 Man's Peril 294 Why Most Poets Are Poor 294 They Will Be Tried 296

MOSHE NATAN 297 Prison 297 From "The Ten Commandments" 298 Clothes Make the Man 298

SHELOMO DEPIERA 299 Thinkers with Thinking 301 The Bee and the Grumbler 301 Medieval Arthritis 301 Winter in Monzón 302 After Conversion 303 Tabernacles: A Prayer 303 A Prayer for Rain and Sustenance 303 This Year's Wine: 1417 304

VIDAL BENVENISTE 305 Advice from Wives 306 What Girls Want 306 To a Poet-Friend Too Much in Need 307 Poems for a Doe in a Garden 307 A Thank You Note 308 Think about This 308 Beyond Words 308 My Son, before You Were Born 309 To One Who Said His Heart for Verse Was Adamant 309 Clarity 309 What Goes Around Comes . . . 309 The Tongue Speaks and the Hand Records 310


SHELOMO BONAFED 314 World Gone Wrong 315 A Vision of Ibn Gabirol 317 Wherever You Go 318

YITZHAQ ALAHDAB 320 Inflation 320 Another Flea 321 Security 321 The Elderly Asked if the Doctors 321 As Sorcerers Spread 321 Being Poor 322 State of the Art; or, Poetry Wails 322 Renaissance Man 323

MOSHE REMOS 326 Last Words 327

'ELI BEN YOSEF [HAVILLIO?] 330 Who Soars 330

MOSHE IBN HABIB 331 Account 332 You Come to the House of God 332

SA'ADIA IBN DANAAN 333 Enmity Smolders 334 Hordes of Readers 334 Mixed Messenger 334 She Trapped Me 334 Chiasmus for a Doe 335

Notes 337 Glossary 527

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)