Page 113 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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ter) known to have written poetry. Her father was also a poet,
who taught her poetry, but he most certainly was
not,
as one
writer has contended, Samuel Ibn Naghrillah (Ismacil in Ara­
bic), whose only daughter died in 1044, long before Qasmunah
was born. Several of her poems have survived.13
Ibrahim Ibn Sahl, from whom we also have Hebrew poetry,
appears to have converted to Islam (although this is not entirely
certain). In any event, he was one of the most famous Arabic
poets, whose loyalty to Islam (if he did convert) was seriously
in doubt. Many of his Arabic poems are poems of love about
two boys, one a Muslim and the other a Jew. Similarly, we find
Hebrew poets who wrote love poems about Muslim boys and
women. Other Hebrew poets who wrote some Arabic poems
include Judah al-Harizi. One of the most important Jewish poets
who wrote, apparently, exclusively in Arabic was Yusuf ibn
Ishaq
al-Isra°ili
(not a name; simply “the Jew;” Ishaq was a pe­
culiarly Jewish spelling). He lived in Cordoba in the latter part
of the tenth and early part of the eleventh century.14 Solomon
Ibn al-MucallIm, a government minister (
wazir)
of Seville (11th-
12th cent.) also wrote Arabic verse.
Ibrahim Ibn al-Fakhkhar, member of an illlustrious Jewish
family, was an official in the service of Alfonso VIII in the thir­
teenth century, who composed a poem in Arabic describing his
court.15
Yet another aspect of medieval Hebrew poetry which must
be mentioned is the genre of poetry known as
muwashshahat.
Much has been written on this topic, and often with more heat
than light, and still very little understanding.16 Originating in
13.
Ibid.,
p. 356. Her poems were published in an anthology in Beirut, 1958
(study and translation: James M. Nichols, “The Arabic Verses o f Qasmuna . . .
International Journal o f Middle East Studies
13 [1981]: 155-58). The incorrect iden­
tification o f her was suggested by James A. Bellamy, “Qasmuna the Poetess:
Who Was
S h e } ,”Journal o f the American Oriental Society
103 (1983): 423-24 (aside
from that, his article does correct some errors o f translation by Nichols).
14. See Mohammed Soualah,
Ibrahim Ibn Sahl
(Alger, 1914-19) with French
translations o f some poems; on Yusuf ibn Ishaq see Ibn Bassam,
al-Dhakhira
fi-mahasin ahl al-jazira
(Arabic; Cairo, 1939) I, 1, pp. 199-200.
15.
Nafh al-tib
II, 354-55; cf. my “Again Alfonso VI . .
Bulletin o f Hispanic
Studies
51 (1984): 165-69 on the family.
16. The bibliography is vast, but since the Hebrew examples (most o f which
have not so far even been recognized as such) far outnumber the total o f the
ROTH /JEWISH LITERATURE IN MEDIEVAL SPAIN
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