Before I was, Thy mercy came to me

by Solomon ibn Gabirol

English version by Bernard Lewis
Original Language Hebrew

Before I was, Thy mercy came to me,
inverting void and being Thou madest me to be.
Who wrought my image, poured my essence
into the crucible and gave me shape?
Who breathed a soul into me
opened the belly of Sheol and took me out?
Who led me from childhood until here?
Who taught me to understand, caused me to marvel?
Indeed I am clay in Thy hand.
Thou didst make me, in truth, not I myself.
I shall confess my sins, and not say to Thee
"The serpent deceived me and led me astray."
How can I hide my guilt from Thee? For indeed
before I was, Thy mercy came to me.

-- from Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems, Translated by Bernard Lewis

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Before I was, Thy