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On this week’s episode, host Marcela Sulak returns to the work of Ibn Gabirol, one of the outstanding figures during the Jewish Golden Age in Moorish Spain. She reads a new edition of his work called Vulture in a Cage, published in 2016 by Archipeligo Books. The translation by Raymond P. Scheindlin interestingly adheres to Gabirol’s original rhyme scheme and rhythm of the Hebrew. Here is an excerpt from one of his poems depicting the relationship between God and the speaker as an erotic relationship:

“Greetings to you, red-cheeked friend,
greetings to you from the girl
with the pomegranate brow.
Run to meet her—your beloved—
hurry out to rescue her!
Charge, like David, valiant king
when he took Rabbah, the city.”
He:
“Why, my beauty, why just now
do you choose to rouse my love,
set your lovely voice to ringing
like a priest’s robe hung with bells?
When the time for loving comes,
then you’ll see me hurrying.
Then I will come down to you
as on Mount Hermon drips the dew.”

Born in Málaga in about 1022, Ibn Gabirol joined an intellectual circle of other Cordoban refugees. Protected by Gabirol’s patron, whom Gabirol immortalized in poems of loving praise, the poet became famous for his religious hymns in Hebrew. At the time, the customary language of Andalusian literature was Arabic. At 16, he could rightly boast of being world famous. You can access Marcela’s previous episode on Ibn Gabirol here.

Text:
Vulture in a Cage. Poems by Solomon Ibn Gavirol, translated by Raymond P. Scheindlin. Archipeligo Books, 2016.

Music:
מוכיח רע, סחרוף ברי — השפתות אדומי
שפל רוח
שלום לך דודי
מה לך יחידה

Producer: Ariella Plachta
Technical producer: Tammy Goldenberg

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