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Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 133 Reviews present fonn and showing what value it may have for reconstructing Israel's history. Kenneth G. Hoglund Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC 27109 -"tD:J n,' ~~OO rn'):Jn :C~il-'O' n-"tD :ilnfDOil 'p' C':Jr!)pil 1':J .lo,?! "1)' nRC .:J~-"Oil [POLARITY AND PARALLEL: SEMANTIC PATTERNS IN THE MEDIEVAL HEBREW QASIDA]. By Yael S. Feldman. Pp. 129. Tel Aviv: Papyrus, 1987. Paper. In this valuable and provocative study, Yael Feldman has applied the methodology of the New Criticism, Western structuralism, and Russian semiotics to the study of the Hebrew qlJ$Jda in several selections by Moses Ibn Ezra (ca. 1055-1135). Suggesting that there is an alternative to the traditional reading of the qB$Jda as a conglomerate of unconnected independent parts. Feldman probes the underlying semantic structure of the samples under study and discovers its essential unity. This semantic analysis . which seeks to connect in an organic whole seemingly disparate units. focuses on a pattern of contrasts and/or equations. Feldman finds in the panegyrics of Moses Ibn Ezra both a polarity and parallel between the patron of the poet and an imaginary character presented in the beginning of the poem. A sample selection is the epithalamium "Is It the Scent of Myrrh That Fills the Earth" (c'o~~, mRC iC n,.,,'-text ~d translation is from Selected Poems ofMoses Ibn Ezra. ed. by H. Brody and trans. by S. Solis-Cohen [Philadelphia. 1945]) in honor of the wedding of Solomon ben Matir. The poem. divided into three thematic segments. opens (11. 1-28 in the Brody text) with a celebration of the sights. sounds. and smells of nature. Even the clouds on the horizon "pour out spicy odors" and flashes of lightning are confused with wine "glowing in the chalice." Following (11. 29-76) is the encomium segment in praise of "Solomon [metonymy for the bridegroom]" who "weds a noble maid." interrupted by a call to the friends of the wedded pair to "drink... according to your pleasure and without constraint" (11. 47-54). Concluding the work (II. 77-90) is a unit of self-congratulations in which the poet takes Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 134 Reviews pleasure in his work of art, "the song of a friend," which will be for him "a mantle of honor that will never become outworn whilst the foundations of the earth endure" (11. 79-80). Although at first glance the poem seems to be a work of disparate parts, a closer look reveals, in Feldman's view, an hitherto undetected unity preserved in the semantic structure of polarity and parallel. Prominent among these is the parallel between the celebrations of nature's appeal (in segment one) and the beauty of the bride (segment two) and the polarity between the Appolonian bridegroom whose "steps follow the path of wisdom" (1. 31) and the Dionysian "Earth" (I. 9) whose "houses shout with gladness" (1. 13) and where "the sorrowful exult and are merry" (I. 16). Feldman points to a similar polarity between the spiritual appeal of the bridegroom contrasted with the physical beauty of the bride. One can argue this point. To be sure, the bride, who Feldman sees as the counterpart to the wine pouring ephebe at the Andalusian banquets, is described as a "figure graceful as the palm and lissome as the branches of the myrtle" (11. 57-58). She is, however, far from being a one-dimensional figure. Ibn Ezra refers to her as "a noble maid" (i1"::l~-I. 29) and celebrates her modesty ("And flee not from the snake-like locks that coil about a face bathed in maiden blushes"-ll. 65-66). On much safer ground is Feldman's observation regarding the parallel between the bridegroom and the self-image of the poet, thereby connecting segments two and three. The poet, like the bridegroom, is focused on the gifts of the intellect. His poetic wedding gifts are "pearls of thought" (I. 85) that are revealed by the "light of thy mind" (1. 84). In line with the New Criticism, Feldman points to the recurring motifs that give cohesion to the poem. Prominent among these are...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 133-135
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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