May the Name send its hidden radiance
to open the gates of deliverance
to His servants -- and shine in their hearts,
which now are shut in silent darkness.
May the great King be moved
to act in perfection and righteousness --
to open the gates of wisdom for us
and waken the love of old, the love of ancient days.
By the power of the hidden name I-Am-That-I-Am,
and by the dew of Desire and Blessing, the dead will live again....
I-am is the power of your Name in concealment,
and one who knows its mystery dwells in eternity's instant.
Over the world, it pours forth abundance and favor,
and on it all worlds hang, like grapes in a cluster.
Send the dew of blessing, the dew of grace;
renew my dispensation, and grant me length of days.
Bring light to my eyes with your teaching, and let not the husks that surround your hosts obstruct me.
May Heaven and Adam's children judge me with mercy.
Sustain me with their strength and fortune --
but do not leave me in need of the gifts of men.
(Nachmanides aka Moses ben Nachman)
'The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition'
By Peter Cole (Editor), Aminadav Dykman (Afterword)
This groundbreaking collection presents for the first time in English a substantial body of poetry that emerges directly from the sublime and often startling world of Jewish mysticism. Taking up Gershom Scholem’s call to plumb the “tremendous poetic potential” concealed in the Kabbalistic tradition, Peter Cole provides dazzling renderings of work composed on three continents over a period of some fifteen hundred years.
In addition to the translations and the texts in their original languages, Cole supplies a lively and insightful introduction, along with accessible commentaries to the poems. Aminadav Dykman adds an elegant afterword that places the work in the context of world literature. As a whole, the collection brings readers into the fascinating force field of Kabbalistic verse, where the building blocks of both language and existence itself are unveiled.
Excerpts from The Poetry of Kabbalah have been featured in the Paris Review, Poetry, and Conjunctions.
“Studded with insight, and written with great verve, this book will become a classic.”
(Lawrence Fine, author of Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos)
“Stunning. . . . Cole chooses poems that seem to hover between mysticism and earthliness . . . [and] virtuosically shows that the poetry [of Kabbalah] continues to retain its more earthly function.”
"Peter Cole offers a monumental view of the poetry of Kabbalah and honors the Kabbalistic reverence for song-as-knowledge by translating Hebrew into English song: his versions are graceful, clear, and most important, tuneful. They live in the ear and the heart, in English, with their own transformative power."
"A groundbreaking work. Cole reveals and explores a subject that has hardly been noticed in previous scholarship or popular writing: the poetic aspect of Jewish mysticism. His translations are superb, his introductions to each section are clear and stimulating, and his notes are learned yet not intimidating, clarifying what would otherwise remain obscure. In short, he brings this material alive for a contemporary reader. This is a marvelous book."
“Resplendent. . . a dazzling treasury of verse spanning more than 1,500 years and accompanied by fascinating, illuminating commentary rich in history, biography, and literary expertise. . . . Cole has brilliantly preserved [the poems’] 'diverse prosodies' and ecstatic lyricism in his supple translations, allowing readers to fully appreciate how they grapple with ‘timeless concerns’.”