Welcome to our Blog

Click here to read the what this blog is all about.
Click here to see a listing of posts arranged by category.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ruins in Moshe Ibn Ezra's Poetry

by Moshe Ibn Ezra

I have seen upon the earth spacious mansions,
Palaces of ivory with lofty chambers
and pillars upon carved pedestals
houses richly adorned and filled with things of beauty.
And, as in a twinkling, I have seen them
heaps of ruins where in none might dwell.
Tell me, where are they that built and inhabited?
Where are their souls and where their bodies?
And what hope is there for man, save to await death,
With the grave ever before his eyes
For time is a herdsman, and death
like a knife, and all that live are sheep.

אשר בנה עלי-ארץ מעונים
ובתי שן והכין בם עליות
ועמודים עלי בתים רצופים
מרוחים ומחמדי שכיות
לפי-רגע ראיתימו כגלים
בלי ישב וארמוניו שאיות
אמר איה אשר בנו ושכנו
ונפשותם ואיה הגויות
ומה-תקוה לאיש מות ייחל
ועיניו אל-שאול כל-יום תלויות
כאלו הזמן נקד ומות
כמלאכת וכל-היקום כשיות

Moshe Ibn Ezra was a Jewish philosopher, linguist and poet during the Golden Age of Spain. He was born in Granada around 1055, and died around 1140. He is one of the all-time great Jewish poets.

1 comment:

  1. Check this up

    Yehuda Amechai Poem

    Temporary Poem of My Time

    Hebrew writing and Arabic writing go from east to west,
    Latin writing, from west to east.
    Languages are like cats:
    You must not stroke their hair the wrong way.
    The clouds come from the sea, the hot wind from the desert,
    The trees bend in the wind,
    And stones fly from all four winds,
    Into all four winds. They throw stones,
    Throw this land, one at the other,
    But the land always falls back to the land.
    They throw the land, want to get rid of it.
    Its stones, its soil, but you can't get rid of it.
    They throw stones, throw stones at me
    In 1936, 1938, 1948, 1988,
    Semites throw at Semites and anti-Semites at anti-Semites,
    Evil men throw and just men throw,
    Sinners throw and tempters throw,
    Geologists throw and theologists throw,
    Archaelogists throw and archhooligans throw,
    Kidneys throw stones and gall bladders throw,
    Head stones and forehead stones and the heart of a stone,
    Stones shaped like a screaming mouth
    And stones fitting your eyes
    Like a pair of glasses,
    The past throws stones at the future,
    And all of them fall on the present.
    Weeping stones and laughing gravel stones,
    Even God in the Bible threw stones,
    Even the Urim and Tumim were thrown
    And got stuck in the beastplate of justice,
    And Herod threw stones and what came out was a Temple.

    Oh, the poem of stone sadness
    Oh, the poem thrown on the stones
    Oh, the poem of thrown stones.
    Is there in this land
    A stone that was never thrown
    And never built and never overturned
    And never uncovered and never discovered
    And never screamed from a wall and never discarded by the builders
    And never closed on top of a grave and never lay under lovers
    And never turned into a cornerstone?

    Please do not throw any more stones,
    You are moving the land,
    The holy, whole, open land,
    You are moving it to the sea
    And the sea doesn't want it
    The sea says, not in me.

    Please throw little stones,
    Throw snail fossils, throw gravel,
    Justice or injustice from the quarries of Migdal Tsedek,
    Throw soft stones, throw sweet clods,
    Throw limestone, throw clay,
    Throw sand of the seashore,
    Throw dust of the desert, throw rust,
    Throw soil, throw wind,
    Throw air, throw nothing
    Until your hands are weary
    And the war is weary
    And even peace will be weary and will be.

    Translated from the Hebrew by Barbara and Benjamin Harshav, in A Life of Poetry: 1948 - 1994, New York, HarperCollins, 1994, with thanks to the publisher