The Embroidered Wrap

Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Ibn Ali ‘l-fath Ibn Khafaja
Arab Andalusian
1058 – 1138

 

Her glance, like a gazelle’s,
her throat, that of a white deer,
lips red as wine,
teeth white as sea foam.

Tipsiness made her languid.
The gold-embroidered figures
of her wrap swirled round her,
brilliant stars around the moon.

During the night love’s hands
wrapped us in a garment of embraces
ripped open
by the hands of dawn.

Graves

We present this work in honor of Tisha B’Av.

Moses ben Jacob ibn Ezra
Arab Andalusian
c. 1055 – c. 1138

 

And where are the graves, so many graves
Of all who have died on the earth since the beginning?
Grave tunnelling into grave,
Headstone and obelisk crumbled into one dust,
Bodies heaped upon bodies, in motionless orgy—
All sleeping together in deep holes,
Fragments of chalk,
Stained rubies.

My Beautiful One

Safwan Ibn Idris
Arab Andalusian
1165 – 1202

 

How beautiful she is!
And imagine that beauty
is only one of her qualities.
There is nothing more bewitching
than her movements.

She is more enchanting than the moon.
If you asked the real moon,
“What would you like to be?”
it is certain to reply,
“One of her halos.”

When she looks at the real moon
it’s as if she were looking
at her own face in a mirror.

The beauty spot on the page
of her cheek
punctuates the nuns written there
by the curls of her hair.

Once I went out with her when the
shelter of night and her cape
let me mingle the fire of my breath
with the fire of her flaming cheeks.

I clasped her as a miser clasps
his treasure, and bound her tightly
with the cords of my arms
lest she escape like a gazelle.

But my chastity did not permit me
to kiss her mouth
and my heart remained huddled
over its embers.

I Look Up to the Sky

We present this work in honor of Shavout.

Samuel ibn Naghrillah
Arab Andalusian
993 – 1056

 

I look up to the sky and the stars,
And down to the earth and the things that creep there.
And I consider in my heart how their creation
Was planned with wisdom in every detail.
See the heavens above like a tent,
Constructed with loops and with hooks,
And the moon with its stars, like a shepherdess
Sending her sheep into the reeds;
The moon itself among the clouds,
Like a ship sailing under its banners;
The clouds like a girl in her garden
Moving, and watering the myrtle-trees;
The dew-mist—a woman shaking
Drops from her hair to the ground.
The inhabitants turn, like animals, to rest,
(Their palaces are their stables);
And all fleeing from the fear of death,
Like a dove pursued by the falcon.
And these are compared at the end to a plate
Which is smashed into innumerable shards.

At the Court of Abu Inan

We present this work in honor of Dia de Andalucia.

Ibn al-Khatib
Arab Andalusian
1313 – 1374

 

Caliph of god!
Wish destiny increased your glory
as long as the moon shines in obscurity!
Wish the hand of Providence kept out from you
all dangers that men force cannot avoid.
In our afflictions your appearance is for us
like the moon dispersing the darkness.
In times of penury your hand replaces the rain
spreading abundance.
Without your help,
The people of Andalusian could not conserve
their habitation, neither their land.
In a word, this country doesn’t feel but a lone necessity:
to protect your Majesty.
Those who experiment your favour never were ungrateful;
they never were unaware of your profits.
And now, when they fair for their existence,
they send me to you and wait.

The Mirror

In honor of Tu B’Shavat, we present this work by one of Arab Andalusia’s greatest Jewish poets.

Judah Halevi
Arab Andalusian
1075 – 1141

 

Into my eyes he lovingly looked,
My arms about his neck were twined,
And in the mirror of my eyes,
What but his image did he find?

Upon my dark-hued eyes he pressed
His lips with breath of passion rare.
The rogue! ‘Twas not my eyes he kissed;
He kissed his picture mirrored there.