I’M PRINCE TO THE POEM
by Solomon Ibn Gabirol
I’m prince to the poem my slave,
I’m harp to the court musicians,
my song is a turban for viziers’ heads,
a crown for kings in their kingdoms:
and here I’ve lived just sixteen years,
and my heart is like eighty within them.
© Translation: 2001, Princeton University Press.
Solomon Ibn Gabirol (approx. 1021 – approx. 1058), one of the greatest liturgical poets of the Middle Ages, was a Hebrew poet whose entire life was spent in Spain. He was born in Málaga in Andalusia in the third decade of the 11th century and died approximately thirty years later in Valencia. (Annotated biography of Solomon Ibn Gabirol courtesy of Israel – Poetry International Web.)
Editor’s Note: As I move toward graduate school I am contemplating what specific areas of poetry interest me and what I might want to spend the duration of my PhD program working on. As an Israeli-American poet whose parents were founding members of Shalom Acshav, a prominent peace movement in Israel in the 1970’s and 1980’s, I feel drawn toward middle eastern poetry, and particularly poetry that contemplates Israeli-Palestinian peace struggles. Poets have been political activists and anti-war protesters for nearly as long as poetry has existed as an art form. Poets throughout history have played an important role in peace struggles, as well they should given their ability to manipulate language and be heard. As I embark on this journey into this particular subset of poetry you will see more posts that explore middle eastern poets, and particularly those who contemplate politics and peace.