May 27 2013

Book Review: The Poetry of Kabbalah, tr. by Peter Cole

Published by at 9:28 am under Books

The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition
Edited by Peter Cole



Finally we have a truly excellent collection of sacred Jewish poetry. While T. Carmi’s Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse is more comprehensive, Cole’s The Poetry of Kabbalah has more of a poet’s sense of language and even catches of few sparks from the mystic’s fire. This is poetry that startles and transports. The Poetry of Kabbalah has become my favorite source for Jewish mystical poetry in English. Very highly recommended.


Where, Lord, will I find you:
your place is high and obscured.
      And where
            won’t I find you:
      your glory fills the world.

You dwell deep within –
      you’ve fixed the ends of creation.
You stand, a tower for the near,
      refuge to those far off.
You’ve lain above the Ark, here,
      yet live in the highest heavens.
      Exalted among your hosts,
      although beyond their hymns –
            no heavenly sphere
                  could ever contain you,
      let alone a chamber within.

- Shelomoh Ibn Gabirol

Table of Contents

Introduction

Poems of the Palaces and Early Liturgical Hymns
- Yannai
- Eliezer Kallir

The Book of Creation
- Al-Andalus and Ashkenaz
- Shelomoh Ibn Gabirol
- Yehudah HaLevi
- Yehudah HeHasid

The Kabbalah in Spain
- Moshe ben Nahman
- Ya’akov HaKohen
- The Zohar
- Avraham Abulafia
- Yosef Gikatilla

The Safed Circle (Galilean Kabbalah)
- Shelomoh Alkabetz
- Eliezer Azikri
- Yitzhak Luria
- Avraham ben Maimon
- Yisrael Najara

Extensions East and West
- Shalem Shabazi
- Shimon Lavi
- Ya’akov Ifargan

Jewish Muslims/Muslim Jews
- Shabbatian Hyms

Italian Kabbalah
- Moshe Zakut
- Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto

Hasidic Devotion
- Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev
- Shneur Zalman

The Seeds of Secular Mysticism
- Hayyim Nahman Bialik

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