The Dream of the Poem

The Dream of the Poem : Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492

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Hebrew culture experienced a renewal in medieval Spain that produced what is arguably the most powerful body of Jewish poetry written since the Bible. Fusing elements of East and West, Arabic and Hebrew, and the particular and the universal, this verse embodies an extraordinary sensuality and intense faith that transcend the limits of language, place, and time. Peter Cole's translations reveal this remarkable poetic world to English readers in all of its richness, humor, grace, gravity, and wisdom. The Dream of the Poem traces the arc of the entire period, presenting some four hundred poems by fifty-four poets, and including a panoramic historical introduction, short biographies of each poet, and extensive notes. (The original Hebrew texts are available on the Princeton University Press Web site.)By far the most potent and comprehensive gathering of medieval Hebrew poems ever assembled in English, Cole's anthology builds on what poet and translator Richard Howard has described as "the finest labor of poetic translation that I have seen in many years" and "an entire revelation: a body of lyric and didactic verse so intense, so intelligent, and so vivid that it appears to identify a whole dimension of historical consciousness previously unavailable to us." The Dream of the Poem is, Howard says, "a crowning achievement."show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 576 pages
  • 154.9 x 231.1 x 33mm | 748.44g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • Annotated
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0691121958
  • 9780691121956
  • 312,903

Review quote

Winner of the 2010 TLS Risa Domb/Porjes Translation Prize, Jewish Book Council Winner of the 2007 R. R. Hawkins Award, Association of American Publishers Winner of the 2007 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Humanities, Association of American Publishers Winner of the 2007 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Literature, Language, and Linguistics, Association of American Publishers Winner of the 2007 National Jewish Book Award in Poetry Finalist for the 2007 National Jewish Book Award in Sephardic Culture Peter Cole, Winner of a 2010 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters "Virtually stagnant since late Biblical times, Hebrew poetry and the language itself would be transformed by a succession of poets of genius and their imitators. In Peter Cole's rich new anthology, the extent of their astonishing achievement is fully revealed for the first time in English... His versions are masterly."--Eric Ormsby, New York Times Book Review "Perpetually astonishing. The central figures in Peter Cole's anthology are great by any standards... [They] provoke love in any reader of Hebrew literature, and by [a] miracle of Cole's own creation, in any reader of little or no Hebrew who directly confronts the work of this major poet-translator... Superb."--Harold Bloom, New York Review of Books "The book is a treasure trove, a labour of love and exceptional erudition, which will open up to the reader a world of poetry and culture as rich as anything in human civilization."--Times Literary Supplement "...[Cole] has performed an enormous service and produced a book which is by turns moving, charming, and funny. No one after this will be able to write a book on medieval poetry without taking the Hebrew and Arabic poets of Spain into account."--Gabriel Josipovici, Times Literary Supplement "Meticulously edited and captivating anthology... [P]oetic scholarship at its best... [A] major translation project."--Marjorie Perloff, Bookforum Praise for Peter Cole's Selected Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol and Selected Poems of Shmuel HaNagid (both Princeton):"Cole's translations ... shimmer: they convey the power and mystique of the original."--Choice Praise for Peter Cole's Selected Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol and Selected Poems of Shmuel HaNagid (both Princeton): "Fresh, worldly, intimate, and wise."--Booklist Praise for Peter Cole's Selected Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol and Selected Poems of Shmuel HaNagid (both Princeton): "Cole's vigorous inventive translation is equal to the task of rendering [the] work [of a poet] whose range encompassed commerce and God, war and wine. HaNagid emerges as a man of identifiably modern--even enlightened--breadth, even as the rest of Europe languished in its Dark Ages."--Publishers Weekly "Traversing five centuries, four hundred poems, and fifty poets, the anthology represents a remarkable literature that evolved and flourished between the East and the West, between sacred and the profane, and amid the collision and collusion of traditions, religions, and languages ... all bolstered by Cole's extensive introductions, biographies, commentary, and glossaries."--American Poet "Peter Cole offers us an unprecedented gift, bringing to life a body of Hebrew poetry that, wrote Harold Bloom, can at its best 'rival the magnificences of Scripture'...[Cole's] achievement in bringing us this volume is as death-defying an act as any ever undertaken by the poets he presents within its pages."--Esther Allen, Bomb Magazine "The Dream of the Poem offers English readers a substantial, unfailingly elegant anthology of medieval Hebrew poetry in translation. Overall, it is a remarkable achievement... [I]t brings to life a world we have long yearned to share more eloquently with those who could not read it for themselves."--Susan L. Einbinder, Speculum "The anthology appears in a series devoted to translated poetry, and is designed to be accessible to general readers. Yet it is also suitable for use as a course book: there are helpful introductions and annotations, and the publisher has made the Hebrew originals available on-line. The book is a true labour of love, and should win new readers to this wonderfully rich body of poetry."--Nicholas De Lange, Journal of Jewish Studies "Seldom if ever has medieval Iberian literature received such attention from the English-speaking academic world, much less the larger American reading public, and it speaks to the importance of Cole's translations, which have given voice to this material in a way that other translations have not. For scholars of Spanish literature these translations are important in that they make accessible to non-Hebrew speakers a large body of Judeo-Iberian poetry, some of it not previously available in translation."--Michelle Hamilton, Bulletin of Spanish Studies "The book constitutes a milestone that will not be easy to surpass. May this book inspire the next generation of researchers to develop further research aims in Medieval Hebrew literature!"--Arie Schippers, Review of Middle Eastern Studiesshow more

Back cover copy

"A sterling work of translation of unsurpassed scope, quality and importance."--Ross Brann, Cornell University "The finest labor of poetic translation I have seen in many years.... An entire revelation."--Richard Howard, University of Houstonshow more

Table of contents

To the Reader xxi Acknowledgments xxiii Introduction 1 PART ONE: Muslim Spain (c. 950-c. 1140) DUNASH BEN LABRAT 23 Fragment 24 Blessing for a Wedding 24 Drink, He Said 24 THE WIFE OF DUNASH 27 Will Her Love Remember? 27 YITZHAQ IBN MAR SHA'UL 28 A Fawn Sought in Spain 28 YOSEF IBN AVITOR 30 Lament for the Jews of Zion 31 A Curse 32 A Plea 33 Hymn for the New Year 33 YITZHAQ IBN KHALFOUN 35 Love in Me Stirs 35 A Gift of Cheese 36 SHMU'EL HANAGID 37 On Fleeing His City 38 The Miracle at Sea 40 The Apple 44 The Gazelle 45 Jasmine 45 In Fact I Love That Fawn 45 Mixed in Spain 46 Your Years Are Sleep 46 The House of Prayer 47 The Critique 48 On Lifting the Siege 49 The War with Yaddayir 50 On the Death of Isaac, His Brother 53 First War 58 I'd Suck Bitter Poison 59 Delay Your Speech 59 The Rich 59 People Welcome the Rich 60 If You Leave a Long-Loved Friend 60 You Who'd Be Wise 60 When You're Desperate 61 It's Heart That Discerns 61 He'll Bring You Trouble 61 Could Kings Right a People Gone Bad 61 What's Familiar Is Sometimes Distanced 62 One Who Works and Buys Himself Books 62 Three Things 62 Soar, Don't Settle 62 Man's Wisdom Is in What He Writes 63 Be Glad, She Said 63 The Multiple Troubles of Man 63 Gazing through the Night 64 Earth to Man 65 The Child at One or Two 65 I Quartered the Troops for the Night 66 Luxuries Ease 66 Why Repeat the Sins 67 At the Treasury 67 Know of the Limbs 67 You Mock Me Now 68 Time Defies and Betrays 68 The Market 68 YOSEF IBN HASDAI 70 The Qasida 71 SHELOMO IBN GABIROL 74 Truth Seekers Turn 75 I'm Prince to the Poem 76 Prologue to The Book of Grammar 76 They Asked Me as though They Were Mystified 77 See the Sun 78 On Leaving Saragossa 78 My Heart Thinks as the Sun Comes Up 81 Now the Thrushes 81 Winter with Its Ink 82 The Garden 82 The Field 83 The Bee 83 I'd Give Up My Soul Itself 84 Be Smart with Your Love 84 All in Red 85 You've Stolen My Words 85 The Altar of Song 85 The Pen 86 If You'd Live among Men 86 I Am the Man 86 Heart's Hollow 88 I Love You 89 Before My Being 90 Three Things 90 I Look for You 91 Open the Gate 91 The Hour of Song 92 Send Your Spirit 92 Angels Amassing 93 And So It Came to Nothing 94 He Dwells Forever 95 Haven't I Hidden Your Name 97 Lord Who Listens 98 I've Made You My Refuge 98 You Lie in My Palace 99 From Kingdom's Crown 99 YITZHAQ IBN GHIYYAT 111 My Wandering 112 YOSEF IBN SAHL 114 The Fleas 114 Your Poem, My Friend 115 A Complaint about the Rich 115 LEVI IBN ALTABBAAN 117 Utter His Oneness 117 Exposed 118 BAHYA IBN PAQUDA 119 Duties of the Heart 119 MOSHE IBN EZRA 121 Weak with Wine 122 The Garden 123 Bring Me My Cup 123 A Shadow 123 The Fawn 124 The Garden, the Miser 124 The Pen 125 Heart's Desire 125 That Bitter Day 127 Let Man Remember 127 The Dove 127 Why Does Time Hound Me So 128 Ancient Graves 128 If You See Me 129 Ivory Palaces 129 The World 130 My Heart's Secret 130 I Roused My Thoughts from Slumber 130 Let Man Wail 132 On the Death of His Son 132 The Blind 133 The Gazelle's Sigh 133 Gold 134 The Day to Come 134 At the Hour of Closing 135 YOSEF IBN TZADDIQ 137 A Wedding Night's Consolation 137 Lady of Grace 139 SHELOMO IBN TZAQBEL 141 Lines Inscribed on an Apple 142 Note to a Suitor Now Perplexed 142 A Fawn with Her Lashes 142 YEHUDA HALEVI 143 That Night a Gazelle 145 A Doe Washes 146 If Only Dawn 146 That Day while I Had Him 146 Another Apple 146 To Ibn al-Mu'allim 147 If Only I Could Give 147 Epithalamium 149 When a Lone Silver Hair 149 If Time 150 Inscriptions on Bowls 150 Four Riddles 150 Departure 151 On Friendship and Time 152 Slaves of Time 154 Heal Me, Lord 154 True Life 154 The Morning Stars 155 His Thresholds 155 Where Will I Find You 155 You Knew Me 156 A Doe Far from Home 156 A Dove in the Distance 157 You Slept, Then Trembling Rose 158 Love's Dwelling 158 Lord, 159 If Only I Could Be 160 Won't You Ask, Zion 162 My Heart Is in the East 164 How Long Will You Lie 164 Heart at Sea 165 My Soul Longed 167 Has a Flood Washed the World 167 In the Heart 168 Above the Abyss 168 Time Has Tossed Me 168 Be with Me 169 Along the Nile 169 This Breeze 170 PART TWO: Christian Spain and Provence (c. 1140-1492) AVRAHAM IBN EZRA 173 Fortune's Stars 174 How It Is 175 A Cloak 175 The Flies 176 World Poetry 176 All the Rest Is Commentary 177 I. The Flood 177 II. Reading Exodus 177 III. The Miracle (at Lehi) 177 Pleasure 177 In Place 177 The Wedding Night, Continued 178 An Ancient Battle 179 Lament for Andalusian Jewry 181 Elegy for a Son 182 My Hunger 184 Sent Out from the Glory 184 Lord, I Have Heard 184 My God, 185 To the Soul 185 Blessed Is He Who Fears 186 I Bow Down 188 Children of Exile 189 I Call to Him 189 You Whose Hearts Are Asleep 190 YITZHAQ IBN EZRA 192 On the Death of Yehuda HaLevi 193 Over His Boy 194 Conversion 195 YOSEF QIMHI 196 Love for the World 197 Always Be Vigilant 197 Consider This 197 Suffer Your Sorrow 197 On Wisdom 198 If You Hear Someone Insult You 198 Wait and Be Saved 198 Wealth 199 Silence and Speech 199 YOSEF IBN ZABARA 200 Sweet and Sour 201 My Ex 201 Look at These People 202 The Physician 202 ANATOLI BAR YOSEF 203 The Test of Poetry 203 Motto 204 YEHUDA IBN SHABBETAI 205 From The Offering of Yehuda the Misogynist 206 I. Pharaoh's Wisdom 206 II. The Misogynist in Love 206 III. A Raised Offering 207 IV. Two Things 207 V. The Sage Lies 207 YEHUDA ALHARIZI 208 Born to Baseness 209 The Hypocrite 210 The Jerk 210 A Miser in Mosul 210 The Miser 211 On Zion's Holy Hill 211 Boys: Two Poems 212 I. If Amram's Son 212 II. An Answer 212 Masters of Song 212 Measure for Measure 212 A Lover Wandered 213 How Long, My Fawn 213 Curses' Composition 213 A Flashing Sword 214 Palindrome for a Patron 214 A Poem No Patron Has Ever Heard 215 Admiration for the Patron Again I'll Prove 215 Two Poems on Karaism 215 I. For 215 II. Against 216 Virtue 216 I'll Set Out a Verse and Lay the Foundation ... 216 YA'AQOV BEN ELAZAR 218 The Hypocrite's Beard 219 Four Poems on Subtle Love 220 I. The Doe 220 II. A Kiss 220 III. A Lover's Transgression 220 IV. Spats and Squabbles 220 AVRAHAM IBN HASDAI 221 Watch Out 222 ProPortion 222 Age as Author 222 Which Is More Bitter 223 The Lying Word 223 The Monk's Advice 223 Advice for a Future King 223 I. Wisdom's Mantle 223 II. Don't Believe 224 III. The Hyssop and the Cedar 224 MEIR HALEVI ABULAFIA 225 Plea for a Tax Break 226 (L)attitude 226 Fighting Time 226 YITZHAQ HASNIRI 227 On the Worship of Wood and a Fool 228 MESHULLAM DEPIERA 229 The Poet 230 On a New Book by Maimonides 230 Before You Take Up Your Pen 230 How Could You Press for Song 231 As One with the Morning Stars 232 MOSHE BEN NAHMAN (NAHMANIDES) 233 Before the World Ever Was 234 From "One Hundred Verses" 237 SHEM TOV IBN FALAQERA 240 Career Counseling 241 A Mystery 241 On Poets and Poetry 241 Why God Made You 242 The Fool Thinks 242 Poverty's War 242 YITZHAQ IBN SAHULA 243 The Cynic Speaks 244 On Humility 244 AVRAHAM ABULAFIA 245 From The Book of the Letter 247 AVRAHAM BEN SHMU'EL 252 To Whom among the Avengers of Blood 253 YOSEF GIQATILLA 254 The Nut Garden 255 TODROS ABULAFIA 256 I've Labored in Love 258 She Said She Wanted 258 The Day You Left 258 That Fine Gazelle 259 They Fight with Me over Desire 259 That Girl Emerged 259 May My Tongue 259 There's Nothing Wrong in Wanting a Woman 260 Strong Poet, Weak Poet 260 Plaster and Pearls 261 Nothing Left to Say 261 Teachers and Writers 261 Before the King 262 My King 262 Poems from Prison 262 I. As Love Lives 262 II. Treacherous Time 263 III. The Filthy Lay in Darkness with Me 263 IV. My Rings Have Fallen 263 V. Is It the Lord 264 Time Tries as I Drift 264 The Sea Casts Up Mire and Mud 264 On a Bible Written by Shmu'el HaNagid 265 Time Spreads Its Nets 265 Old Age Is Double-Edged 266 Perversion's Pigeons 266 My Thinking Wove 266 The Lord Is Good and So I'm Tormented 267 Defiled and Pure Are One 267 On Hearing Church Bells 267 I Take Delight in My Cup and Wine 268 NAHUM 270 Winter Has Waned 270 AVRAHAM HABEDERSHI 272 Why the Poet Refuses to Fight 273 Your Muse 273 Lament for a Foe 274 The Poet's Distress 274 YITZHAQ HAGORNI 275 Would You Tell Me 276 HaGorni's Lament 276 YEDAYA HAPENINI 278 The World Is a Raging Sea 279 AVNER [OF BURGOS?] 281 The Last Words of My Desire 282 QALONYMOS BEN QALONYMOS 284 On Becoming a Woman 285 YITZHAK POLGAR 287 Faith's Philosophy, Philosophy's Faith 288 SHEM TOV ARDUTIEL (SANTOB DE CARRION) 289 From The Battles of the Pen and the Scissors 290 I. Writer, You Hold 290 II. To Praise the Pen 291 III. Tomorrow I'll Write 291 IV. Enter the Scissors 291 V. Work I Was Cut Out to Do 291 VI. The Pen Fights Back 292 VII. The Scissors Longed 292 SHMU'EL IBN SASSON 293 Man's Peril 294 Why Most Poets Are Poor 294 They Will Be Tried 296 MOSHE NATAN 297 Prison 297 From "The Ten Commandments" 298 Clothes Make the Man 298 SHELOMO DEPIERA 299 Thinkers with Thinking 301 The Bee and the Grumbler 301 Medieval Arthritis 301 Winter in Monzon 302 After Conversion 303 Tabernacles: A Prayer 303 A Prayer for Rain and Sustenance 303 This Year's Wine: 1417 304 VIDAL BENVENISTE 305 Advice from Wives 306 What Girls Want 306 To a Poet-Friend Too Much in Need 307 Poems for a Doe in a Garden 307 A Thank You Note 308 Think about This 308 Beyond Words 308 My Son, before You Were Born 309 To One Who Said His Heart for Verse Was Adamant 309 Clarity 309 What Goes Around Comes ... 309 The Tongue Speaks and the Hand Records 310 SHELOMO HALEVI (PABLO DE SANTA MARIA) 312 Memory's Wine 313 SHELOMO BONAFED 314 World Gone Wrong 315 A Vision of Ibn Gabirol 317 Wherever You Go 318 YITZHAQ ALAHDAB 320 Inflation 320 Another Flea 321 Security 321 The Elderly Asked if the Doctors 321 As Sorcerers Spread 321 Being Poor 322 State of the Art; or, Poetry Wails 322 Renaissance Man 323 MOSHE REMOS 326 Last Words 327 'ELI BEN YOSEF [HAVILLIO?] 330 Who Soars 330 MOSHE IBN HABIB 331 Account 332 You Come to the House of God 332 SA'ADIA IBN DANAAN 333 Enmity Smolders 334 Hordes of Readers 334 Mixed Messenger 334 She Trapped Me 334 Chiasmus for a Doe 335 Notes 337 Glossary 527show more

About Peter Cole

Peter Cole is a poet and translator of Hebrew and Arabic poetry. He has received numerous awards for his work, including prizes from the "Times Literary Supplement" and the Modern Language Association, and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Winner of the 2004 PEN-America Translation Award, he lives in Jerusalem, where he coedits Ibis Editions. He was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in more

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