Let it be, my God, your will
to bridle my fell inclination
and hide your face from my sin and transgression
and not to take me away
in the midst of my days
until I've prepared my provision
for the way
and my repentance
for the day of my passing;
for if I depart from the world as I entered,
and naked and empty return as I came,
why was I made-
or called to bear witness to struggle and pain?
I'd better not having been born,
rather than adding to guilt and transgression.
Judge me, Lord, by the standard of mercy,
and not in your anger,
unless you'd bring me to nothing.
For what is man that you'd judge him,
but haunted vanity and breath pursued.
How could you measure that in a balance?
You'd put it onto the scales
and the pan would neither rise nor fall;
what good would it do you to weight out the wind?
From the day of his birth he's tortured and shamed,
afflicted and stricken by God and plagued.
He begins like chaff in a storm,
and ends like driven straw;
while he lives he's blighted grass-
and the fleeting moment is found by the Lord.
From the time he merges from his mother's womb
his nights are grief and his days a sigh;
if he's lifted one day in fortune-
his fortune's worms are bred by dawn.
He's driven by chaff-
and stubble will bring him down.
Content he seeks trouble,
and hungry he'd sin for bread.
In his boyhood his heart is stubborn.
When the spirit of lust begins to move him
he wakens to gain's pursuit and leaves home
to sail the seas and quest across deserts,
and try his soul in the lion's den
and walks among beasts.
Just when he thinks his glory is great-
that his hand has gotten much-
the destroyer in peace comes at him,
and he opens his eyes and is poor.
He's continually put through trial,
vexation at every turn,
moment by moment through harm,
day by day through terror.
As his pain worsens, his honor grows thin,
and the neighborhood children begin to taunt him,
and the young men wear him down;
he becomes a burden to daughter and son
and his family and friends disown him;
and the time comes to leave the court
and enter the court of earth,
to exchange the shadows of home
for the endless shadow of death.
How could a man who faces all this
find time for what's pure and repentance?
The day is short and the work is great
and the owners are all impatient-
and anxious and full of contempt;
and time plays trick after trick;
and the landlord has started to knock.
Therefore, my Lord,
remember the whole of the struggle
through which a man is put.
And if I've often ignored what's right,
look after my soul in the end,
and do not account for me sin by sin-
a man whose transgressions are endless,
who leaves this life without joy...
Quoted after: Cole, Peter (Trans.) (2001). Selected Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol. Princeton, Oxford: Princeton University Press. P.184-87.
Last updated: 2003/10/26