The first major poet of the Hebrew literary renaissance of Moslem Spain, Shmuel Ben Yosef Ha-Levi HaNagid (993-1056 c.e.) was also the Prime Minister of the Muslim state of Granada, battlefield commander of the non-Jewish Granadan army, and one of the leading religious figures in a medieval Jewish world that stretched from Andalusia to Baghdad. Peter Cole's groundbreaking versions of HaNagid's poems capture the poet's combination of secular and religious passion, as well as his inspired linking of Hebrew and Arabic poetic practice. This annotated Selected Poems is the most comprehensive collection of HaNagid's work published to date in English.
"The Multiple Troubles of Man"
The multiple troubles of man,
my brother, like slander and pain,
amaze you? Consider the heart
which holds them all
in strangeness, and doesn't break.
"I'd Suck Bitter Poison from the Viper's Mouth"
I'd suck bitter poison from the viper's mouth
and live by the basilisk's hole forever,
rather than suffer through evenings with boors,
fighting for crumbs from their table.
"These very fine translations of the work of a remarkable medieval poet gain their authority as much from the literary gifts of the poet-translator as from his linguistic and historical knowledge. They convince us by their strong and supple appeal to the ear, as well as by their diction. For the English-speaking reader, this volume of lyric, epigram and epic narrative brings a treasure to light in the way it deserves to be presented."—John Hollander, Yale University