Israel/Palestine (6th Century) Timeline

Poems by Yannai
Books - Links

The poetry of Yannai was virtually unknown until he was rediscovered in the early 20th century by scholars.

Yannai lived in Palestine in the 6th century. An Ashkenazi tradition says that Yannai was the teacher of Eleazar ben Kallir, the best known of the classical paytanim (Jewish liturgical poets). There has even been a legend suggesting that Yannai grew jealous of his talented student and killed him by placing a scorpion in ben Kallir's shoe, though the written tale calls the story into question by adding, "May God forgive all those who say this of Yannai -- if it did not really happen."

Yannai is now thought of as the first of the great classical paytanim, and the first to use rhyme and acrostics in his works, which later became the standard in this form of Jewish sacred poetry.

Poems by Yannai

Recommended Books: Yannai

The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse

Related Links

JewishEncyclopedia.com -- Yannai

A brief article on Yannai, with a few short excerpts.

Piyyut: The Poetry of Worship

A short article on piyyut poetry, with several references to Yannai.