In this unparalleled study of the forms of Hebrew poetry, preeminent authority Benjamin Harshav examines Hebrew verse during three millennia of changing historical and cultural contexts. He takes us around the world of the Jewish Diaspora, comparing the changes in Hebrew verse as it came into contact with the Canaanite, Greek, Arabic, Italian, German, Russian, Yiddish, and English poetic forms. Harshav explores the types and constraints of free rhythms, the meanings of sound patterns, the historical and linguistic frameworks that produced the first accentual iambs in English, German, Russian, and Hebrew, and the discovery of these iambs in a Yiddish romance written in Venice in 1508/09. In each chapter, the author presents an innovative analytical theory on a particular poetic domain, drawing on his close study of thousands of Hebrew poems.
Benjamin Harshav is professor emeritus of comparative literature and J. & H. Blaustein Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature, Yale University, and professor emeritus of literary theory, Tel Aviv University. He lives in North Haven, CT.