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Birth of Secular Hebrew Poetry

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1 Birth of Secular Hebrew Poetry
Prior to the 10th century – all Hebrew poetry was religious The Andalusian School of Poetry provided a new way to write Dunash ben Labrat of Cordoba was the first to write secular Hebrew poetry He adapted Arabic poetic forms to Hebrew

2 What did this mean? Arabic poetry had form and meter that was different from Biblical or religious Hebrew poetry It focused on topics other than God and faith Despite early resistance and claims Hebrew would not work in these new forms – Hebrew Secular poetry flourishes in Muslim Spain

3 Muslim period – Samuel HaNagid – lyrical accounts of military campaigns Solomon ibn Gabirol Moses ibn Ezra Judah Halevi – the finest and most famous of this school

4 Topics Written in the courts of the Jews who served the Muslim leaders these poems would focus on: Their benefactors’ lives and deaths Self praise Insulting rivals Wine and love Personal complaints and reflections

5 Despite it being secular
Images for Torah and Tanach were common Was seen as a way to revive Hebrew Use of vocabulary and images from the Hebrew Bible Whole passages would be quoted or inserted into a poem

6 Piyyutim (liturgical poems)
Poems of a religious nature were also written These were “devotional” and not necessarily used in formal prayer These became more popular late in the Muslim period and when Christians re-conquered Spain and made life harder for Jews This type of poetry was already well known in Ashkenaz where life had long been difficult

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