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'Tis a Fearful Thing
Yehuda Halevi


‘Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.
A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –
to be,
And oh, to lose.
A thing for fools, this,
And a holy thing,
a holy thing
to love.
For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.
To remember this brings painful joy.
‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing, to love
what death has touched.

This poem is in the public domain.


Yehuda Halevi (1075 – 1141), also known as Judah Halevi and Judah ben Shmuel Halevi, was born in Spain to a wealthy Jewish family and was well educated as a youth. As an adult, he was well respected in influential circles and widely known and admired for his talents as a poet, philosopher, and physician. Considered one of the greatest Hebrew poets of all time, responsible for numerous poems, prayers, and hymns that remain in use today, Yehuda also wrote a wide range of secular poems noted for their wit and emotional intensity. Committed to relocating to Israel from an early age, he finally embarked on that journey in his mid-60s. He died shortly afterwards; it is uncertain whether he actually made it to his intended destination of Jerusalem or whether he died in Egypt, en route.

Post New Comment:
"Perhaps the hardest thing about losing a lover is to watch the year repeat its days."
Posted 12/26/2020 10:39 AM
Life, and love, are so precious. I've saved this one to my journal. Thank you for sharing it.
Posted 02/12/2020 10:52 PM
Sorry, I've been unable to locate any information about who translated it.
Posted 02/10/2020 01:45 PM
Who translated it?
Posted 02/10/2020 07:07 AM
Strange. My comment wouldn't post, but the empty box did. I was just agreeing that it is lovely and timeless, and it's going in my favorites as well
Posted 02/09/2020 12:24 PM
Janet Leahy:
in seventeen lines this beautiful poem speaks to us of how fragile love is. Thanks Jayne.
Posted 02/08/2020 02:00 PM
This one got to me. To be touched by a hand extended 900 years ago. Yehuda.
Posted 02/08/2020 12:02 PM
How beautiful and true!
Posted 02/08/2020 09:48 AM
Yes, with a wife who's going downhill with Alzheimer's, this is a great gift. Especially the lines /your laugh once lifted me, ? your word was gift to me. Coming through the ages.
Posted 02/08/2020 09:45 AM
Was the original written in Hebrew or Spanish. A task for my day.
Posted 02/08/2020 09:29 AM
Great idea Richard Greene! (Comment below)
Posted 02/08/2020 07:52 AM
Beauty from words. This poem is effective as a timely piece to remind us decades change, yet people do not. Good one!
Posted 02/08/2020 07:49 AM
For me, this poem is dedicated to the 11 people killed in a Squirrel Hill Pittsburgh synagogue in Oct. 2018.
Posted 02/08/2020 07:27 AM
Larry Schug:
Truth,Beauty and Love endure.
Posted 02/08/2020 07:21 AM
Richard Greene:
Beautiful and powerful poem. It goes in my exclusive file of favorites.
Posted 02/08/2020 07:12 AM

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