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Selected Religious Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol Hardcover – 1923

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Hardcover, 1923
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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Jewish Publication Society of America (1923)
  • ASIN: B0016P1CU0
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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By Peter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 Jan. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Solomon ibn Gabirol was the greatest of the Jewish medieval poets who flourished in the golden age of Spanish-Jewish culture. This collection of devotional poetry was translated into English verse by Israel Zangwill from a critical text by Professor Israel Davidson who was an authority on Hebrew poetry and Jewish liturgy.

It is introduced by Davidson who provides biographical information and discusses the nature and impact of Gabirol's timeless work, as well as those of his contemporaries. Born in Malaga in 1021 or 1022, Solomon was a prominent philosopher and poet, and a contemporary of the Cid, Spain's national hero. He belonged to the third period of Hebrew poetry in Spain.

Orphaned at a young age, Gabirol spent his formative years in Saragossa and began his literary career when he was about sixteen. He was supported by patrons, first Yekutiel then Samuel HaNagid. His other literary works include Biblical exegesis, Hebrew grammar, philosophy & ethics. More than 300 poems survive, half secular and half religious. Written in Arabic, only two of his more than 20 books on ethics and philosophy have survived, one of which is the famous Source of Life (Fons Vitae).

The influence of the Sefer Yetzirah on his poetry is marked, and his lyrics have a permanent appeal to the emotions, aspirations and yearning of mankind. Davidson quotes from Moses ben Ezra and Harizi, two medieval critics who appreciated his work. He concludes by affirming that Gabirol's words are a sanctuary to which the weary in heart turn for consolation, the troubled in mind for guidance and all lovers of beauty for partaking in exuberant joy.
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