Nov 122012

A tajnis. The Key Word in this one is pashat, a Hebrew verb that means oh so many things (here, specifically, “to strip/disrobe” and “to spread out”). Unlike yesterday’s poem, this one is not at all seasonally appropriate, so let’s call it an aspirational poem, now as the days darken and grow cold.

If your knowledge of the zodiac is lacking (a dear friend of mine was once completely baffled by my ability to name the constellations on a nighttime walk, and demanded to know how this knowledge could ever be useful – LET’S HOPE SHE’S NEVER LOST AT SEA), you may find a quick read through our friend Wikipedia to be helpful. Or I’ll just copy/paste the money quote:

The First Point of Aries, the location of the vernal equinox, is named for the constellation. This is because the Sun crossed the celestial equator from south to north in Aries more than two millennia ago. Hipparchus defined it in 130 BCE as a point south of Gamma Arietis. Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the First Point of Aries has since moved into Pisces and will move into Aquarius by around 2600 CE. The Sun now appears in Aries from late April through mid May, though the constellation is still associated with the beginning of spring.

Also, is there any occasion the medieval Andalusian poets did not find appropriate grounds for drinking? I hope not.

Moshe ibn Ezra (1060? – 1140?)
Drink, My Friends, For Winter’s Gone

Now drink, my friends, for winter’s gone1
  And time shrugs off the garments of old age.
As surely as the sun now crosses Aries
  Youth’s raiment spreads itself o’er hill and valley.

משה אבן עזרא / موسى ابن عزرا
רעי שתו כי הסתיו עבר

רֵעַי שְׁתוּ כִּי הַסְּתָיו עָבַר \ גַּם מַחְלְצוֹת זֹקֶן זְמָן פָּשָׁט
אָכֵן בְּחוּל שֶׁמֶשׁ בְּטָלֶה סוּת \ נֹעַר עֲלֵי עֵמֶק וְהַר פָּשָׁט.


Reiʕái shetú ki ha-setáv ʕavár / gam maḥletzót zóken zemán pashát
‘Akhéin be-ḥúl shémesh be-taléh sut / nóʕar ʕaléi ʕéimek ve-hár pashát.

  1. See Song of Songs 2:11.

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