Wife of Dunash: “Will Her Love Remember?”


Will her love remember his graceful doe,
her only son in his arms as he parted?
On her left hand he placed a ring from his right,
on his wrist she placed her bracelet.
As a keepsake she took his mantle from him,
and he in turn took hers from her.
Would he settle, now, in the land of Spain,
if its prince gave him half his kingdom?

–Wife of Dunash ben Lavrat (Andalusia, 10th century)

Translation by Peter Cole

Photo credit: Anonymous by Moche

Q: We know her only as the wife of the 10th century poet Dunash ben Lavrat who may have had to leave Spain and his wife and son because of a falling out with the local Jewish leadership. She is anonymous but the sublime balance of tenderness and resentment, of loss in her poem cuts to the core. I wonder often in reading other anonymous works (e.g., Pearl) to what extent the anonymity contributes to the intimate hold the work and its art has on me? To be explored further.


~ by matt on 9 January 2008.

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Natalie E. Illum...

is a poet, performer and disability activist. Bring her stumbling to your city.

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