Cedars of Lebanon: Seven Secular Poems
THE history of contacts between peoples has few pages brighter than the Jewish Golden Age in Moorish Spain. Under the impress of Arab culture, not only new forms but new attitudes and sympathies domesticated in the Hebrew mind. Ritual found theology, theology stirred beyond apologetics to philosophy, and ampler modes of both sacred and secular feeling found their voice in poetry. Three enlightened centuries, the 10th, 11th, and 12th, were marked by a type of Jew who was versatile in intellect, receptive to the arts of language, and at home in the habit of science.
Solomon Ibn Gabirol, born in the city of Malaga about 102I, was, for the thirty-seven years of his life, a distinguished exemplar of this spirit. Orphaned, arrogant, itinerant, a prodigy-composing acceptable verses at sixteen and excellent ones at twenty-wed, apparently; to wisdom alone, Ibn Gabirol made his way from patron to patron, always finding men who acknowledged the worth and paid the price of his pearls. The portable pearls were sharp discourse, a dilettante’s knowledge of almost every medieval field of inquiry, high talent in philosophy, and genius in poetry.
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