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Solomon Ibn Gabirol

(c. 1021 - 1058)

Two sources provide most of the limited information that is known about the life of this great spiritual poet. The earliest account of Gabirol's life is found in a book by an Arab contemporary. In slightly more than three lines, Gabirol is described as a student of philosophy and logic, possessing a keen mind. The Arab text concludes its description by observing that Ibn Gabirol was a shy man who was cut off in the prime of life. The second, more complete description of Solomon Ibn Gabirol, comes from Moshe Ibn Ezra (1060-1139). Ibn Ezra adds that the great poet was born in Malaga, and in fact, there are several acrostic poems where the poet refers to himself as Ha Malahi - the Malagan. Amazingly, despite his brief lifetime, more than 400 poems appear in the published editions of his work, and new ones are still being discovered. Perhaps his most famous poem is The Kingly Crown, which is a hymn of glory to the greatness of God.

Thou art the supreme light, and the eyes of the pure of soul shall see Thee, and clouds
of sin shall hide Thee from the eyes of sinners.
Thou art the light hidden in this world and revealed in the world of beauty, 'In the mount
of the Lord it shall be seen.'
Thou art the eternal light, and the inward eye yearns for Thee and is astonished - she
shall see but the utmost part of them, and shall not se them all.
(excerpted from The Kingly Crown, Section One, The Praises of God)

Sources: This material was originally published in Sparks! - an e-zine for Jewish families