Page 95 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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lum berg
— M
b n
Halevi, on hearing of Moses’ self-banishment from his native
country, beseeches admiringly:
O occidental light, return to thy west
And be thou a signet to every arm and heart!
In his lament on Ibn Ezra’s death, Halevi calls him “the sweet
singer of Israel” and “the crowning glory of Spain.” In a similar
vein, Al-Harizi bestows this encomium upon him: “Moses
(Moshe) ibn Ezra draws (moshe) pearls from the depths of
poetic thought; his verses composed for nights of penitence, can
make those who slumber talk” (Tahkemoni, ch. 3). In another
passage, Al-Harizi expresses the popular judgment of his con-
temporaries when he says: “Moses ibn Ezra’s poetry was more
favorably received by poets than the works of others because of
his polished diction and his masterly technique”
ch. 8).
Contrary to what Zunz has written about Ibn Ezra being too
serious, never indulging in laughter and devoting his muse mostly
to penitential poems for the solemn holidays of Rosh Hashanah
and Yom Kippur, his youthful
abounds in songs of
love and wine, and the joy of living amidst nature’s blessings.
Thus, he rhapsodizes in one of his poems (Solomon Solis-Cohen’s
translation, p. 79):
A beautiful woman, a cup of wine, and a garden,
The song of a bird and the sound of
murmuring waters
(Te ‘alah);
These are balm to the lover, and joy to the sad one
And welcome to the wanderer,
And wealth to the poor, and healing
(T e ‘alah)
to the sick.
The alluring dark-haired, olive-complexioned maidens of
sunny Spain, with their subtle smiles and exotic fragrances, must
have had their special charms for him. He chants of one of them
p. 71):
Beautiful as the pomegranate is the white face
Of Ofrah when she blushes
And I that must part from all this beauty, weep—
Until the hot flame of my grief dries up
my tears.
In a different vein, but without venom or bitterness, he voices
his disillusionment when, after the sad turn in his fortune, his
friends forsook him
p. 83):
My brother, neighbor thee to a bear robbed of her whelps,
Or dwell indeed (Omnah), in the leopard’s den—
But keep far from the children of Adam,
For among them is faithfulness (Omnah) not found.