One of the greatest of the
medieval poets of Spain, Solomon b. Judah Ibn Gabirol of Cordova (c1021-1058)
produced religious hymns, meditations and prayers, as well as secular secular
poetry on the subjects of wine, friendship, life, love, and loneliness. [more
about Ibn Gabirol]
The following wine
song was written as a protest against a wine seller who was mixing the
wine with water. Ibn Gabirol's word plays are based on the gematria
system, which converts the Hebrew words to their numerical equivalents.
In this system, wine (yayin) is equivalent to "70" and
water (mayim) is equivalent to "90."
makes available in this "Wine" edition an historical
recording of Geula Gill singing Ibn Gabirol's medieval Hebrew poem to a
Yemenite folk melody; the recording is courtesy of Smithsonian
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my wine is finished, my eyes drip
Pools of water.
heroes they were,
Wiped out by ninety officers
I have left off singing, for the mouths of
Officers were filled with water.
to eat how pleasant it is!
But how can a meal taste good to the palate
When the wineglass
Is filled with water.
Son of Amram (Moses) dried the Red Sea
And made the Egyptian Nile stink.
Who was this man Moses who
Drew water (from the rock).
a friend to the frogs
He likes water,
No-one knows the song of water
Better than he.
be a holy hermit before his death
Like Yithro's descendents
He and his household will become
Drawers of water.
Ibn Gabirol's poem in the original Hebrew]
* Geula Gill singing Ibn Gabirol's Kich-lot Yeni to a folk
melody, the musical origin of which is unknown. Arrangement and accompaniment
by Dov Seltzer. Track 12 on "Yemenite and Other Folk Songs,"
(FW 8735) Folkways Records, 1958. The recording is now available on CD
from Smithsonian Folkways. [back]
Records was found in 1948 by Moses Asch who sought to document the entire
world of sound. The 2,168 titles Asch released on Folkways include tradition
and contemporary music from around the world, spoken word recordings and
documentary recordings of individuals, communities and events. Folkways
was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987. The entire Folkways
catalogue, which includes more than 50 recordings related to the Jewish
Heritage, is still available. All
recordings include extensive liner notes.
For more information: http://www.si.edu/folkways.
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