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Hebrew Poems from Spain$
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David Goldstein

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113669

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113669.001.0001

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Solomon Ibn Gabirol

Solomon Ibn Gabirol

(p.61) Solomon Ibn Gabirol
Hebrew Poems from Spain

David Goldstein

Liverpool University Press

This chapter addresses the poetry of Solomon Ibn Gabirol. Solomon was born in Malaga in 1021 or 1022, and lived the greater part of his life in Saragossa. From his early years, he was crippled by disease, and his illness is a constant theme of his poetry. He was compelled to live by his writing, and found a sympathetic patron in Yekutiel ben Isaac ibn Hasan, who was executed in 1039. Perhaps as a result of his indisposition, and his consequent sense of inferiority, he was not an easy companion, and he left Saragossa, to die, perhaps in Valencia, between 1053 and 1058. He devoted much of his life to the pursuit of philosophy or ‘wisdom’, in which he found consolation for his physical cares; he was an adherent of the Neoplatonic school. His absorption in the ‘new’ philosophy, however, contributed to his personal unpopularity in the Jewish community of Saragossa. Meanwhile, Solomon’s fame as a poet rests mainly on his liturgical poems, which are masterpieces of concision and delicacy. It was he who introduced into the Hebrew poetic canon the poem addressed to the ‘soul’, by which he generally meant man’s intellectual aspiration to discover God.

Keywords:   Solomon Ibn Gabirol, philosophy, Neoplatonic school, Jewish community, Saragossa, liturgical poems, Hebrew poetic canon, Jewish poet, Jewish poetry

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