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Yehudah HaLevi

Cups Without Wine

Cups without wine are low things
Like a pot thrown to the ground,
But brimming with the juice, they shine
Like body and soul.

Translated by Robert Mezey

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Awake, My Fair

Awake, my fair, my love, awake,
So that I may gaze upon you!
And if one is eager to kiss your lips,
In your dreams this do you see,
Lo, then I myself of your dream
The interpreter will be.

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The Grey Hair

One day I observed a grey hair in my head;
I plucked it right out, when it thus to me said:
'You may smile, if you wish, at your treatment of me,
But a score of my friends soon will make a mockery of you.'

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Song

Let the morning pursue me
with the wind that senses her body.
Let the clouds carry my message.
Then might she yield.

Lying in the constellation of The Bear,
have pity, gazelle, on him who must fly
to the stars to reach you.

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The Mirror

Into my eyes he lovingly looked,
My arms about his neck were twined,
And in the mirror of my eyes,
What but his image did he find?

Upon my dark-hued eyes he pressed
His lips with breath of passion rare.
The rogue! 'Twas not my eyes he kissed;
He kissed his picture mirrored there.

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The Fair Maiden

The night when the fair maiden revealed the likeness of her form to me,
The warmth of her cheeks, the veil of her hair,
Golden like a topaz, covering
A brow of smoothest crystal—
She was like the sun making red in her rising
The clouds of dawn with the flame of her light.

Translated by Nina Salaman

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Do These Tears Know?

Do these tears know who made them fall?
Do these hearts know who made them recoil?
They recoiled when their shining light sank into the earth,
and the clods of earth knew not what they hold.
They hold a princely man,
a good man, blameless, upright,
a God-fearing man, discreet and wise.

translated by T. Carmi

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When My Soul Longed - The Beginning of His Journey

That day when my soul longed for the place of assembly,
Yet a dread of departure seized hold of me,
He, great in counsel, prepared for me ways for setting forth,
And I found His name in my heart a sustainment.
Therefore I bow down to Him at every stage;
And at every step I thank Him.

Translated by Nina Salaman

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A Love Song

'Do you see over my shoulders falling,
Snake-like ringlets waving free?
Have no fear, for they are twisted
To allure you unto me.'

Thus she spoke, the gentle dove,
Listen to your plighted love:
'Oh, how long I wait, till my sweetheart comes back,' she said,
'Laying his caressing hand underneath my burning head.'

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The Apple

You have enslaved me with your lovely body;
You have put me in a kind of prison.
Since the day we parted,
I have found nothing that is like your beauty.
So I comfort myself with a ripe apple—
Its fragrance reminds me of the myrrh of your breath,
Its shape of your breasts, its color
Of the color that used to rise to your cheeks.

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