In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

, 106 SHOFAR At the conclusion of his hook, Pagis makes an extraordinarily important statement, that is, occasionally one must consider the literary styles of the period hut never to the extent of excluding the real and true individual creativity of the poet. Pagis, a poet himself, indicates the complexity of the issues facing scholars who analyze Hebrew poetry from Spain and Italy. As a former-and admiring-student of Dan Pagis, I believe he demonstrates the intellectual honesty constantly in evidence in his classes. David Rabeeya Professor of Hebrew Language & Literature Gratz College The Gazelle: Medieval Hebrew Poems on God, Israel, and the Soul, by Raymond P. Scheindlin. Philadelphia and New York: Jewish Publication Society, 1991. 274 pp. $24.95. A thoughtfully ann()[ated bilingual anthology of thirty poems, The GazelLe complements Scheindlin's earlier Wine, Women, and Death UPS, 1986), which dealt with poems on the pleasures and griefs of life in the physical world. The two books are so clearly written, and wear their profound learning with such grace, that they offer the general reader (and especially the reader whom the faithful verse translations will see through the Hebrew) the best introduction in any language to the "Golden Age" (ca. 950-1150) of Hispano-Hebrew poetry. The specialist too will find the hook rich in insights into poetic technique and the poets' world of ideas. In the introduction the author sketches the development of liturgical poetry from the congregational voice of the classic piyyut, an "artful reshaping of canonical materials," to the emergence in Muslim Spain of a new sacred poetry in which the poet "manages to convince us that we are listening in on a private conversation between himself and God." The I1rst half of the book is devoted to poems on the theme of God and Israel. In an opening essay Scheindlin argues, plausibly in my view, that there are two accepted, even intended, ambiguities in these poems. The first sprang from the intluence of the Arabic love lyric. The new Hispano-J-1ebrew sacred poetry was dyed in the grain with "the habitual idealization of a love that endures the lovers' separation and the hostility of the environment, a love nurtured hy dreams of the past," and with a Vol. 10, No.4 Summer 1992 107 "tone of intimacy and intense feeling." There resulted something of great dramatic intensity for the poetry: an "intentional overlapping of secular and sacred love." The second ambiguity was produced by the poets' philosophical bent: in their poetry the Neoplatonic speculation about "the soul's captivity in the body and its yearning for union with the divine world" fused with the "national theme of Israel's captivity among the nations and its yearning for restoration." The poems in the second part deal with the relation between God and the soul. Scheindlin stresses that "the consciousness of a mysterious kinship that joins all rational beings to each other and to God" informs a good deal of this poetry. The national theme is not paramount here: the individual soul seeks, loves, and praises God, and the poetry, in the hands of philosopher-poets, tends towards a certain universalism. Abraham Ibn Ezra implores God to build His temple in the heart of man who needs redemption from the yelzer ha-ra'; and when he quotes ish yeminekba (Ps. 80:18, "the man of Your right hand"), he means┬Ěthose who are "spiritually and intellectually developed enough to achieve the knowledge of God to which philosophical-minded thinkers ... aspired." Each poem is accompanied by two to four pages of commentary. Among other things, Scheindlin illuminates for the reader the poets' subtle biblical, and at times rabbinic, quotations. This means much more than identifying chapter and verse. The associations that a given biblical passage had acquired in mid rash or in philosophical commentary may be essential for the meaning it carries in a poem, and Scheindlin explores these associations. Moreover, most appropriately to a tradition that is based on so many strands and levels of reading, he also calls the reader's attention to echoes and undecidahles. For example, he points out that Ibn Gabirol's line v"-lamma lirdli hevel ve-lamma (poem 26...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 106-108
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.