Solomon Ibn Gabirol

Solomon Ibn Gabirol
(ca. 1021-1058)

THE 16-YEAR-OLD POET

I am the prince the song
‘s my slave I am the
string all singers songmen
tune my song’s a crown for
kings for ministers a
little crown am only
sixteen years old but my
heart holds wisdom like some
poet 8o year old man

Translated by Jerome Rothenberg and Harris Lenowitz
From Jerome Rothenberg and Harris Lenowitz, eds., Exiled in the Word:
Poems & Other Visions of the Jews from Tribal Times to the Present
(Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 1989).
Copyright © 1978, 1989 by Jerome Rothenberg.
Reprinted by permission of the publisher and of Jerome Rothenberg.

IN PRAISE OF GOD

Morning and evening I seek You, spreading out my hands, lifting up my face in prayer. I sigh for You with a thirsting heart; I am like the pauper begging at my doorstep. The heights of heaven cannot contain Your presence, yet You have a dwelling in my mind. I try to conceal Your glorious name in my heart, but my desire for You grows till it bursts out of my mouth. Therefore I shall praise the name of the Lord as long as the breath of the living God is in my nostrils.

Translated by T. Carmi
from The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse, edited by T. Carmi
(Allen Lane, 1981). Copyright © T. Carmi, 1981.

MORNING SONG

At the dawn I seek Thee,
Refuge and rock sublime,—
Set my prayer before Thee in the morning,
And my prayer at eventime.
I before Thy greatness
Stand, and am afraid:—
All my secret thoughts Thine eye beholdeth
Deep within my bosom laid.
And withal what is it
Heart and tongue can do?
What is this my strength, and what is even
This the spirit in me too?
But verily man’s singing
May seem good to Thee;
So will I thank Thee, praising, while there dwelleth
Yet the breath of God in me.

Translated by Nina Davis
from Nina Davis, Songs of Exile
(Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1901).
Copyright © Nina Davis, 1901.

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