Poems from The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry fom Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492, (Princeton University Press).
Translated from the Arabic by Peter Cole.


Weak with Wine


We woke, weak with wine from the party, 
barely able to get up and walk       
to the meadow wafting its spices—
   the scents of cassia and cloves:

and the sun had embroidered its surface with blossoms  
   and across it spread a deep blue robe.

Let Man Remember

Let man remember throughout his life   
     he’s on his way toward death:     
each day he travels only a little
     so thinks he’s always at rest—

like someone sitting at ease on a ship              
while the wind sweeps it over the depths.

The World

Men of the world have the world in their heart,  
God set it in them when they were born—    
it’s a flowing stream that won’t suffice    
     though the sea becomes its source,

as if its water turned to salt    
when a parched heart called out to them—           
they pour it from buckets into their mouths
     but their thirst is never quenched.

Peter Cole is the recipient of a 2004 PEN Translation Fund Award for The Dream of the Poem: The Hebrew Poetry of Muslim and Christian Spain (Princeton University Press).