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Rabbi Shlomo ibn Gabirol: My Soul Shall Declare Print E-mail

Hebrew PoetryThe 4th of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shlomo ibn Gabirol of Malaga, Spain. He died on April 21,1021.



My soul shall declare to You, You are her former
And shall You as her maker, O God, testify,
At Your word 'Be, O Soul' she took on existence,
And from nothing did You draw her as light from the eye.

Of You she shall own and affirm, hand uplifted,
’Twas You that breathed her in me, and as due
For that work she shall pour out her thanks and bear witness
That to me she was given Your bidding to do.

She serves You as handmaid while yet in the body,
And the day she returns to the land from which she came,
In You will she dwell, for in You is her being,
Does she rise, does she sit, You are with her the same.

She was Yours when unborn before the day of her breathing,
With wisdom and knowledge by You she was fed,
And to You for her ordinance looks, and subsistence,
Indebted to You for her water and bread.

Her gaze is to You, and in You is her hope
When like novice in child-birth she cries in fright.
O take her torn heart as a sacrifice offered,
And her ribs lacerated for fiery rite.

To You let her pour out her tears as drink-offering,
Let the breath of her sighing as incense-cloud be,
At her gate and her doorway she watches with prayer,
She is burning like flame with her passion for You.

She must ever approach You as servant his master,
Or as handmaiden looks to her mistress’s eye,
She must spread out her palms in request and petition
And turn herself humbly to You in her cry.

For call You she must, nor endure to be silent,
Like a bird in the net her one hope is in flight,
In the depth of the night she must rise and keep vigil,
For her work is Your works to declare and recite.

For You she must pine and of You make entreaty,
Her hand must be clean and as stainless her thought.
Her breach do You heal, be her hope and her helper,
When she draws nigh redeem her, her sin count as naught.

Behold her affliction, and hark to her weeping,
In the sphere of the soul she with You is alone,
Repay and restore her, attend to her anguish,
When her sobs and her tears her backslidings bemoan.

Bemock, O Almighty, the foes that bemock her,
Avenge with due vengeance her insults and shame,
In her stress be a rock of support against her foeman,
Nor yield up the child You to manhood did frame.

No enemy came, whose reproach could be borne with,
No cruel one hunted her down in her track,
It was the friends of her household betrayed her—her passions—
It was her comrade who bloodily stabbed in the back.

I ever am seeking my body’s best welfare,
Yet it in return would my spirit undo.
Ah, truly the fruit of the tree in its root is,
The proverb "Like mother, like daughter" is true.

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