From The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse, edited by T. Carmi, pp. 98 (biographical note) and 285 (poem)
Samuel HaNagid (993-1056), the first major poet of the “Golden Age,” was born in Cordoba and was amongthose who fled the capital when the Berber hordes destroyed it in 1013. A reknowned Talmudist and statesman, he was the first Spanish Jew to be granted the title “Nagid (Prince)” (Editor’s Introduction). We have chosen this poem for this website because, echoing the Book of Ecclesiastes, it expresses the ephemeral nature of worldly existence and the existential primacy of the moment – hence its title. This, too,was an important theme in Rabbi Nachman of Breslov’s mystical works some seven centuries later.
She said: “Rejoice
For God has brought you
to your fiftieth year in the world!”
But she had no inkling
That , for my part, there is no difference
Between my own days which have gone by
And the distant days of Noah
In the rumored past.
I have nothing in the world
But the hour in which I am.
It pauses for a moment, and then
Like a cloud