Samuel ha-Nagid, born Samuel ibn Naghrela or Naghrillah

ha-Nagid, born Samuel ibn Naghrela or Naghrillah

Spanish Hebrew Poet, Talmudic Scholar, Grammarian, Philologist, Warrior and Statesman

Author Quotes

Rejoice, young man, in your youth and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heat and in the sight of your eyes but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

The earth is a prison to a man all his life. Therefore I say this truth to the fool: though you rush about, the sky surrounds you on all sides. Try to get out, if you can.

Man runs towards the grave, and rivers hasten to the great deep the end of all living is their death, and the palace in time becomes a heap. Nothing is further than the day gone by, and nothing nearer than the day to come, and both are far, far away from the man hidden in the heart of the tomb.

Man's wisdom is at the tip of his pen, his intelligence is in his writing. His pen can raise a man to the rank that the scepter accords to a king.

My friend, tell me, when shall I pour you my wine? The cry of the cock woke me, and sleep has deserted my eyes. Come out and see the morning light like a scarlet thread in the East. Make haste, give me a cup, before the dawn starts to rise, of spiced pomegranate juice from the perfumed hand of a girl, who will sing songs. My soul revives and then dies.

My friend, we pass our lives as if in sleep; our pleasures and our pains are merely dreams. But stop your ears to all such things, and shut your eyes--may Heaven grant you strength!--Don't speculate on hidden things; leave that to God, the Hidden One, whose eye sees all. But send the lass who plays the lute to fill the cup with coral drink, put up in kegs in Adam's time, or else just after Noah's flood, a pungent wine, like frankincense, a glittering wine, like gold and gems, such wine as concubines and queens would bring King David long ago. The day they poured that wine into the drum, King David's singer Jerimoth would strum and sing: "May such a wine as this be kept preserved and stored in sealed-up kegs and saved for all who crave the water of the grape, for every man who holds the cup with skill, who keeps the rule Ecclesiastes gave, revels, and fears the tortures of the grave.

Occupy yourself diligently with secular books, they will be useful guides in social life.

Be glad, young man, in your youth, let your heart bring you cheer while you are young. Follow the paths your heart suggest, sights your eyes take in, but know that for all these things, God will bring you to judgment. Remove anger from your heart, shake off sorrow from your flesh, youth and black hair are fleeting.

Blessed rain? a wisely constructed creation.

Consider how shameful rejoicing is, since it comes between two bouts of woe. You wept when you came into this world, and another mourns you when you go.

I look up to the sky and the stars, and down to the earth and the things that creep there. And I consider in my heart how their creation was planned with wisdom in every detail. See the heavens above like a tent, constructed with loops and with hooks, and the moon with its stars, like a shepherdess sending her sheep into the reeds; the moon itself among the clouds, like a ship sailing under its banners; the clouds like a girl in her garden moving, and watering the myrtle-trees; the dew-mist?a woman shaking drops from her hair to the ground. The inhabitants turn, like animals, to rest, (their palaces are their stables); and all fleeing from the fear of death, like a dove pursued by the falcon. And these are compared at the end to a plate which is smashed into innumerable shards.

I stationed a strong force in a citadel which soldiers had destroyed long ago. We slept there, in it, and around it, and its owners slept beneath us, down below. I said to myself: 'Where are the people, those who lived here in years that have gone? Where are the builders and destroyers, the slaves, and their masters, the princes and the woebegone? Where are the parents, the bereaved, the fathers, the sons, the bridegrooms, and the mourners, and the large numbers that were born after these, as the seasons turned through the cycle of the years? They were all neighbors on the face of the earth, and now they lie together in the earth's womb. They moved to the dust from their pleasant courts, and from their palaces towards the tomb. Were they to raise their heads and emerge, they would despoil us, of our lives and possessions. In truth, my soul, in truth, by to-morrow, I shall be like them, and all my companions.

In times of sorrow, take heart, even though you stand at death?s door: the candle flares up before it dies, and wounded lions roar.

There is no one who never stumbled.

To boast of the help you gave a brother in need is to cancel the good of your deed.

What is it that troubles you? Death? Who lives forever? Or because your foot has stumbled on the earth? There is no man who has never stumbled.

There are three kinds of companions: some are like food, indispensable; some like medicine, good occasionally; and some like poison, unnecessary at any time.

Ingratitude to man is ingratitude to God.

The truth hurts like a thorn at first; but in the end it blossoms like a rose.

War begins like a pretty girl with whom every man wants to flirt and ends like an ugly old woman whose visitors suffer and weep.

I crossed through a souk where the butchers
hung oxen and sheep at their sides…
as blood congealed over blood
and slaughterers’ knives opened veins.

Pay attention to this, you pure ones,
and princes so calm in your fame,
know if you’d fathom the worlds of the hidden:
This is the law of man.

Spirit splits in its asking,
and soul in its wanted is balked;
and the body, fattened, is vital and full—

its precious being uneasy . . .

But the modest man
walks on the earth with his
thought drawn toward sky.

What good is the pulse of man’s flesh
and its favors
when the mind is in pain?

Spirit splits in its asking,

and soul in its wanting is balked;

and the body, fattened, is vital
and full—

its precious being uneasy . . .

But the modest man
walks on the earth with his
thought drawn toward sky.

What good is the pulse of man’s flesh
and its favors
when the mind is in pain?

And the friends who fray me,
their fine physiques
and slender thinking,
thinking it’s ease or gain
that drives me,
pitching from place to place,
my hair wild, my eyes
charcoaled with night—
and not a one speaks wisely,
their souls blunted, or blurred,
goat-footed thinkers.

Should someone unguilty
hold back from
longing toward heights like the moon?
Should he wait,
weaving its light across him
like a man stretching taut his tent skin,
until he acts and they hear of his action,
as he adds and then adds like the sea
to his fame?

By God and God’s faithful—
and I keep my oaths—
I’ll climb cliffs
and descend to the innermost pit,
and sew the edge of desert to desert,
and split the sea
and every gorge,
and sail in mountainous ascent,

until the word “forever” makes sense to me,

and my enemies fear me,
and my friends in that fear
find solace;

then free men will turn
their faces toward mine,
as I face theirs,

and soul will save us,
as it trips our obstructors.

The beds of our friendship are rich with it,
planted by the river of affection,
and fixed like a seal in wax,
like graven gold
in the windowed dome of the temple.

May YAH be with you as you love,
and your soul which He loves be delivered,

and the God of sentence
send aegis,

beyond both the sun and the moon.

She said: “Be happy that God has helped you reach
The age of fifty in this world,” not knowing
That to me there is no difference between my life’s
Past and that of Noah about whom I heard.
For me there is only the hour in which I am present in this world:
It stays for a moment and then like a cloud moves on.

Build me up like a tower on the heights of your sanctuary,
And set me like a seal upon your heart.
Make me drunk with the blood of the foe on the day of war
And satisfy me with his flesh on the night of redemption.
Place the cup of salvation upon my right hand
That my tongue may give voice in joy to a song of love.
For nearly a thousand years I have declared my sorrow
With many tears and with fasting,—will You not answer me?

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
ha-Nagid, born Samuel ibn Naghrela or Naghrillah
Birth Date
Death Date

Spanish Hebrew Poet, Talmudic Scholar, Grammarian, Philologist, Warrior and Statesman