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Vulture in a Cage: Poems by Solomon Ibn Gabirol Paperback – December 6, 2016
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"Ibn Gabirol's poetry is enormously influential, laying the groundwork for generations of Hebrew poets who follow him--rocky and harsh, full of original imagery and barbed wit, and yet no one surpassed him for the limpid beauty of his devotional verse." — Jewish Book Council
"This detailed depiction of a winter scene is among the treasures in Raymond P. Scheindlin’s new book of flowing English translations of secular and sacred poems by Solomon Ibn Gabirol..." — Haaretz
"Beautiful locutions about love, longing, and desire." --Choice
"[Solomon Ibn Gabirol] is considered one of the fathers of Hebrew poetry" --Hebrew Studies
"Ibn Gabirol sets the archetype for spiritual turbulence in all subsequent Jewish poetry. ...A bitter personality and yet a sublime visionary." — Harold Bloom
"[Solomon Ibn Gabirol's] poetry was written in a style that did not conform to the esthetics of his age but that today is part of the way we live." — Amos Lassen
"Such unpredictable, uniquely structured poems, intent on self-expression, were written... most strikingly by Solomon Ibn Gabirol. His personal poems reveal a divided spirit trying in vain to achieve wisdom and peace of mind, a man isolated from society, hated and feared by people who were unable to comprehend his philosophy...The speaker in these poems... is torn between hate, fear, and pride, but miraculously triumphs over himself... His imagery is full of surprises... Ibn Gabirol added a new dimension – searching introspection – to Hebrew poetry." — Dan Pagis, Hebrew Poetry of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
"Being medieval, these poems inevitably demonstrate the scope of religious language in their explorations of nature, drink, love, sex, boasting, friendship and loneliness. They are by turns, witty, satirical, elegiac--and always allusive." --Jane Liddell-King, Jewish Chronicle
About the Author
Solomon ben Judah Ibn Gabirol (sometimes Latinized as Avicebron) was a Andalusian-Hebrew theologian, philosopher, and poet from the 11th century, who left behind a body of work that contains singularly profound meditations on the nature of the sacred, and the relationship between the subject and divinity. These poetic writings on himself are far from solipsistic, rather, through the lens of selfhood, Solomon Ibn Gabirol works to understand the realms of the transcendental and the mystical as experiences that are inseparable from the personal reality of the individual. What links all of his work is an expressionistic descriptiveness and for this, the poetry of Solomon ibn Gabirol has been acclaimed for almost a millennium; his ability to portray the grand majesty of the cosmos through the complexity of the individual, is truly timeless.
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It is well worth reading the translator’s, Raymond P Scheindlin’s introduction as it will help you understand a bit more about the traditions of Hebrew poetry, the times these were written in, the reasons why certain pieces have been included and the problems in translating this into modern English. The poems are set out clearly in different categories for the reader’s comfort, although at times there is some overlapping within the poems themselves.
Arguably Solomon’s voice was a unique one at the time and made him ahead of his time, as he subverted some of the traditional forms to a degree showing more animalistic and grotesque thoughts as well as at times appearing slightly condescending. Writing both secular and spiritual poems this was a person who could quite comfortably and with some majesty approach any subject, but it has to be admitted that it is his spiritual poems that soar above everything else and that are the best remembered and taught.
For people coming to translations of Hebrew into English for the first time you may find it takes a few goes to get into the rhythm of the poetry, but don’t give up as this is a very rewarding collection. This is a poet that wrote for all times and his poetry can still sound as fresh and vibrant today as when it was first written, giving you things to ponder on and making your soul soar with its spiritual glory.
I was very kindly provided with a review copy of this by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes.