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Isaac Ibn Abraham
(12th century) Spain

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Jewish Poet


There was much homoerotic poetry in both Arabic and Hebrew writing in Muslim Spain. The basic texts of the Hebrew poets are discussed in Norman Roth, "Deal Gently with the young man": Love of Boys in Medieval Hebrew Poetry of Spain, Speculum 57:1, 1982, 20-51. It is a brilliant article and one from which I give here an example about Isaac Ibn Abraham.

The secret of love, how can it be contained
The heart and the tear are talebearers.
The heart is restrained from what it seeks,
Shut up and be passion of him besieged,
Unable to obtain its desire.
If it presumes to attain to the stars,
Its pride is brought down, laid low.
Beloved like a hart, with heart of a panther,
If you desire to slay,
My heart is in your hand as clay.
But do not summon wanderings upon it.
For in its midst your name is sheltered.
Beloved, like a scarlet cord his lips,
Burining like fire for they are his censer,
And in them is the work of his signs.
Live by them, for it waits for them -
A heart long suffering because of them.
How my fate has hardened its spirit.
A while and separation will cause it to be odious
To my friends who knew its thoughts.
If wandering has separated us,
It has increased love.
I will watch for the gazelle
To leave in the garden my pleasures,
Although my rebuker stands to accuse me.


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