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17 ALMERIYYAH AND CRITICISM

EnglishHebrew
by Joseph Yahalom
17 ALMERIYYAH AND CRITICISM OF THE QASIDA AND ITS PROSODY Questions related to literature and poetry are often mentioned in the letters H ˙ alfon garnered into his private “ archive” and which eventually made their way into the Cairo Genizah. This may be connected to the Egyptian merchant- scholar’s interest in the lively literary activity that was taking place on Spanish soil. The profu-sion of writing and its molding into motifs and genres borrowed from Arabic literature undoubtedly impressed H ˙ alfon. His archive contained among other things a letter in which the sender had added a muwashshah ˙ by Halevi that H ˙ alfon had asked the sender to obtain for him ( Document 2). We are not familiar with the poem itself, as it must have been detached from the document, but the letter reveals something of H ˙ alfon’s literary tastes. He also filed away in his archive a letter from Yitzh ˙ ak Ben Avraham Ibn Ezra, Halevi’s son- in- law, which reached him in the seaport of Almeriyyah where, as we have seen, H ˙ alfon frequently sojourned ( Document 3). Yitzh ˙ ak announces that he has decided “ that there must be in my letter something vain [ qalam sakhif] for tonight I have heaped a pile of idle words.” “ Qalam Sakhif” stands in Arabic literature for works lacking in seriousness or decency. Unfortunately the idle words that had been enclosed with the letter have been lost to us, and neither is the person of taste, master Yosef, on whose judgment Yitzh ˙ ak relied, known to us with any certainty, though Goitien has identified him as the Cordovan poet and scholar, Yosef Ibn Tzaddiq. In one of his page TOC Home

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