Selected Religious Poems of Solomon ibn Gabirol, tr. by Israel Zangwill, , at sacred-texts.com
O habitants of homes of clay,
Why lift ye such a swelling eye,
Ye are but as the beasts that die,
What do ye boast of more than they?
It is for us the wiser part
To know ourselves for worms whose doom
Is in the clay to find a tomb,
Nor, falsely proud, exalt our heart.
What shall aught profit mortal man
Whose latter end adjoins the grave?
Here were no change, though Nature gave
A thousand years to be his span.
Should he as rebel walk, behold
Earth opens hot to swallow up
His ashes in her flaming cup
And vain is all his might of gold.
Unhappy man, with chastened soul,
And opened eyes, true vision win,
To see thy lowly origin
And thy inevitable goal.
To what may be compared thy lot?
Thou art, O weak and wretched wight,
The gourd that shot up in the night
And in the morning it was not.
To be unborn were better worth
Than thus to reap distress and pain,
For how essay great things to gain
When struggling in this snare of earth?
A fallen creature from the womb,
Thou sinnest for a slice of bread,
And in a moments wildered dread,
Can live through every plague and gloom
While spirit with thy body links,
With living light shall glow thy flesh,
But should the soul desert its mesh,
To mire and sliminess it sinks.
Behold no jot with thee will stay
Of all the glory now so great,
Strangers shall seize thy loved estate,
And empty thou shalt go away.
Thy soul thou gavest oer to lust,
Nor pondered on this bitter truth.
But if thou sinnest in thy youth,
What wilt thou do when thou art dust?
O let the wicked turn aside,
And take, O King, the path to Thee.
Perchance the Rock will heed the plea,
And from His wrath the sinner hide.
O haughty-souled, come gather all,
Remember and stand fast and raise
Your heart and hands in common praise
And thus to God in heaven call:
"Woe to our souls, and wellaway
For all the sins that we have sinned,
Alas, we have pursued the wind
And like to sheep have gone astray.
"What favour can we ask or grace?
The wave of sin has overflowed
Our heads, and heavy is our load
Of guilt, how dare we lift our face?
"Draw up Thy people from the pit,
Thou Ruler of the depth and height,
Stiff-necked were we in Thy despite,
Yet of Thy mercies bate no whit
"But shed Thy sweet compassion oer
The people knocking at Thy gate,
Thou art the Master of our fate,
And unto Thee our eyes upsoar."