On the Art of Piyyut: A Reading of Yehezqel Hacohen's "אמרתי לאבנים" (I Said to the Stones)


In this article I discuss one poem I said to the stones) by Yehezqel Hacohen, a Hebrew paytan who lived in Babylonia in the first half of the eleventh century. The poem is written in accordance with all the strict, artificial rules characteristic of Hebrew liturgical poetry from its very beginnings. Nevertheless, the poem, in my view, gives the impression of being a "natural" emotive utterance that has the air of modern poetry. Therefore, my article is devoted to an analysis of the factors that give it—despite its strict adherence to rigid rules—the flavor of a free, flexible, and improvised utterance.