Nov 022012

Another example of Moshe ibn Ezra’s tajnis (a poetic form in which each line ends with a homonym). Here the word is qédem, which can mean both “ancient/primordial” and “east” (although these meanings themselves are somewhat entangled in Hebrew). I love how efficiently (two lines!) this poem alludes to several of the major obsessions of the Andalusian Hebrew poets: sex, wine and exile. Add “death” and you’d have a good book title. (Oh. Wait.)

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
Beloved of the Moon

The beloved of the moon / opened me a flask / whose wine was pressed / from bygone days
As soon as she pours it / at the edge of the west1 / its fragrance will blow / towards the east.

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
רעית סהר

רַעְיַת סַהַר \ פָּתְחָה לִי כַד \ יֵינוֹ שָׂחוּט \ מִימֵי-קֶדֶם
הָעֵת תִּמְזֹג \ אֹתוֹ בִּפְאַת \ מַעְרָב יִשֹּׁב \ רֵיחוֹ קֶדֶם.


Raʕyát sáhar / patḥáh li khad / yeinó saḥút / miméi kédem
Ha-ʕéit timzóg / ‘otó bife’át / maʕráv yishóv / reiḥó kédem.

  1. i.e., Spain.

  2 Responses to “Moshe ibn Ezra, “Ra`yat Sahar””

  1. Some themes are universal. I thought I should mention how one of my favorite (old time bluegrass) bands has an album titled “Whiskey, Women, and Death.” It’s pretty good.

  2. Is the Moshe ibn Ezra of today a man with a washboard and a backyard still? Food for thought.

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