Urban Spaces in al-Andalus:

Places of Unrivaled Desire and Devastating Exile.


Gabriela Cerghedean

Beloit College


Urban structures aim at the construction of private and public spaces that will define the singular identity of its citizens. The splendid cities built in al-Andalus reflect the determined, yet universal significance of all great architectural constructions, which is to fully appropriate the conquered space and transform it into the absolute religious, military, and political symbol of power. I chose al-Andalus as the center of this discussion on the city’s role in the creation of an Iberian urban poetic discourse, for its unique cultural circumstances – as the space where Muslims, Jews, and Christians coexisted for almost eight centuries.

Urbanism provided the necessary tools for the three cultures to coexist in Medieval Spain.  By the 10th century the Umayyad dynasty’s urban model, initiated in the previous centuries, became the prototype for the structural, ideological, and architectural frame of their newly-independent Caliphate and all al-Andalus. The city represented the absolute ambitions, greatness, and splendor of its Caliph and inhabitants. Unfortunately, not even a century later, due to drastic changes in the political arena, the indisputable role of the cities as images of power will become a new symbol, that of “sites for reflection on bygone glories” (Ruggles 174).

The city, fallen into enemy hands, will now serve as the common literary topic and will be embraced by poets from al-Andalus. For them, each urban architectural space was a micro-cosmos of all al-Andalus: a maze of superimposed memories, a place where “the layers of memory and exile are thick” (Menocal 3). According to Elías Terés, the literature created by the Muslims of al-Andalus during this period is a literature of exile that shares unique traits, especially that of a certain literary patriotism that will allow them to define who they are and develop a self-awareness, or consciousness raising, of their literature (“Algunos” 446). I agree with Terés’s statement and propose that both, Hispano-Arabic and Hispano-Jewish poets created a literature of exile, best reflected in their city elegies, poems that share various similar characteristics that will be analyzed in the subsequent pages.

Urbanism provided the necessary space for the Muslim culture to exist in the Peninsula for it created a space where their identity would prevail, observes Jerrilynn D. Dodds. According to her study, the Umayyad’ dynasty use of architecture as a public space, combined with their control and strict limitation of church building, heightened the symbolic importance of the act of building and resulted in the construction of a “mythic space of desire” (83). Nevertheless, Christian and Jewish population shared the same urban ideology and considered the city part of their own unique identity.

The poems of this complex period, one marked by frequent warfare, external and internal turmoil, and constant changes in power, will reflect the unrivaled desire and devastating exile experienced by all its citizens. As this paper argues, the literary representation of the city shares certain common characteristics among the poets of al-Andalus. The foregoing analysis of the poetic discourse reflects the Hispano-Arabic and Hispano-Jewish depiction of the unequivocal role of the city in the creation of an Iberian urban elegy. First, for the Muslim and Jewish poets the urban spaces provide a Paradisiacal location for their community, a place where they could affirm the singular identity. Secondly, their poetry reveals the close symbiosis between city and individual, the strong feeling of citizenship, alienation, desperation, and isolation experienced by those exiled to foreign lands. Thirdly, the poems underline the symbolic importance of the act of building. The physical architectural presence, its appropriation or its destruction at the conqueror’s hands evokes a glorious religious and cultural past and concurrently, a changing, desolate present. Moreover, the loss of the city represents the desire to restore Islam and Judaism to their former glory in the Iberian Peninsula. The elegies written by the Andalusí poets serve as testimony of the permanent struggle that each of the groups had to face in order to reaffirm their existence, their religion, and their place in the urban spaces.

I analyze these shared topics as they are represented in the urban elegies of Hispano-Arabic and Hispano-Jewish poets, who lament their loss of the urban splendor represented by cities like Cordoba, Granada, Seville, Valencia, and Murcia, and al-Andalus/Sefarad, in general.

1.      The 11th century:  Cordoba in Hispano-Arabic poetry

The eleven-century poetry of loss, displacement, and exile is a direct result of the historical events experienced when Cordoba, the self-sufficient capital of the Caliphate, collapsed at the hands of the Berbers. (1) Cordoba, the “Ornament of the World”, had already reached the height of its glory in mid-10th century when it became the city that “crushed in radiance all the royal predecessors”, as Eulogius proudly described it in his Memoriale Sanctorum (citation in Dodds 83). The outstanding aesthetic achievements of the architects and craftsmen who constructed this city mirrored and embodied the Umayyad dynasty’ desire to create unimaginable places of lavishing beauty and unsurpassed power. Before its fall, Cordoba rivaled Baghdad and was the epicenter for prosperity, commerce, and intellectual energy in the Western world (Elinson 6-8).

For Ibn Zaydūn (1003-1070) Cordoba represented Paradise and ultimately, Paradise Lost. According to Rubiera Mata, Ibn Zaydūn belonged to the generation of poets called  “the Nostalgics”,  who born into aristocracy, lived an opulent life, acquired an exquisite education, but who as young men experienced the disintegration of their extraordinary world. (2) Exiled from Cordoba, he writes nostalgic verses from his jail cell in Seville: (3)

¡Oh Cordoba la bella, ¿no eres tú mi ansia ?

¿No está mi corazón gritando por tu lejanía?


The poet’s heart screams from intense pain and preoccupation caused by being so far away from Cordoba, the “beautiful girl”, who personifies beauty, pleasure, and sweetness. (4) Ibn Zaydūn remembers Cordoba’s natural beauty and its perfect climate, considering it the Garden of Eden through which runs the River of Paradise. As he confesses his separation anxiety and the impossibility to live without her, the poet affirms his own Identity. He defines himself as an urban creation, a direct product of Cordoba. He is the child of the city’s dust, streets, and walls:  “As if I could forget the aroma of your streets, / as if my body were not the child of your dust. / As if I am not still surrounded by the walls of my home.” (5) He longs for his youth and all his memories of pleasure and love are connected to specific architectural urban constructions - the Cordovan monumental palaces and gardens, such as the Rušāfa, the Ŷa‘fariyya (Aljafería), the Palace of the Christian, the Palace of Nāših, the palatine city of Medinah al-Azahara, the Barranco, the Bridge, the Fountain, and the Noria. His memories are inexistent without these specific places in the city and constitute his identity as citizen of Cordoba. (6) 

The topic of merciless Destiny is also present in Ibn Zaydūn’s verses as he laments his adverse Fortune and present misery: “pero la fortuna es adversa y la miseria llega”. He finds himself in this desperate situation because he had to defend his oppressed freedom. (7) Exiled and incarcerated in a worthless country that despises him, he finds himself trapped but defiant and restless. On the verge of agony, he is ready to retaliate and describes himself as a saber hiding in its heath, as a lion in his cage, as a falcon in his nest, as the musk in its sac. He is without consolation and the last vivid image that he shares with us is that of his wine turning into vinegar, leaving us with the sour taste that mirrors his exile. (8)

Another essential characteristic of the city elegies is to evoke its illustrious past and its significant presence as a Muslim city in al-Andalus. Writing two centuries later, Al-Saqundi finds it necessary to remind its readers about Cordoba’s glorious past and its impressive architectural physical presence acquired throughout Caliphate era. In Elogio del Islam español (9) he reveals and remembers the magnificence of the palatine cities built outside Cordoba -Medinat al-Zahra and Al-Zahira, now in ruins, and the Great Mosque constructed in consecutive stages by the Ummayd rulers. He underlines the image of power that the Umayyad Caliphs and Almanzor brought to the city. He includes Almanzor’s great victory over the Christians at Santiago and Barcelona and proudly recalls that the Christian bells were brought to Cordoba and made into lamps. Moreover, he writes, the reconstruction and amplification of the Mezquita was done by Christian slaves who had to carry on their shoulders the materials that were taken from the conquered churches that Almanzor destroyed in the northern Christian regions:

Tocante a la Mezquita mayor, ya habrás oído que sus lámparas han sido fundidas con las campanas de los cristianos, y que la ampliación que hizo en su fábrica Ibn Abi Amir (Almanzor) fue construída con tierra que transportaron los cristianos sobre sus hombros, de las iglesias que aquel destruyó en sus regiones. (Elogio del Islam 105)


Al-Saqundi’s memories of the past re-construct the images of a glorious Muslim city. The transformation and destruction of specific urban places and the appropriation of its physical remnants by the conqueror was a powerful architectural tool that carried an imposing cultural, political, and religious statement. In al-Andalus, the act of violence against churches, mosques, and synagogues, depending on the enemy, marked the city’s final conquest.

2a. The Almoravids. Granada in Hispano-Jewish Poetry.

In the last decades of the 11th century al-Andalus experiences more warfare and defeats at the hands of the North African Berber army, (10) the Almoravids (Elinson 18). During this period, Granada becomes one of the urban spaces whose loss will be lamented by various Hispano-Arabic and Hispano-Jewish poets.

It is during the Almoravid conquest of Granada in 1090 that the Jewish community suffers great losses and will have to abandon the city in order to save their lives. Moseh ibn Ezra takes refuge in the Northern Christian territory, (11) where surprisingly, he finds himself misunderstood by all its inhabitants, especially by the Jewish communities. His verses reflect his bitter Destiny and reveal his desire, his yearning to return to Granada, his native city, “su ciudad natal”. 

His poetry of exile is filled with very personal and tormented images. For example, in La huida de Granada he describes himself as wandering without aim, “errante” in foreign lands where he is shaken by fear and is not able to understand its inhabitants of babbling lips and impenetrable language, “una gente de labios balbucientes y habla impenetrable”. He considers the Christian North a place without culture and accuses Christians and Jews all together to being ignorant (12). In an another poem, En el destierro, he provides the reader with clear images of pain and mourning as he remembers his happy past in Granada, among his family and friends. Exemplary of his poems is his deeply-rooted feeling of belonging to a specific urban group, that of the city of Granada. His exile, a horrible twist of Destiny, (13) reflects the idea of a shared literary patriotism and the development of a unique Iberian consciousness rising.

2b. The Almoravids. Seville in Hispano-Arabic Poetry.

During the Taifa period, under the Banū ‘Abbād, Seville replaced Cordoba as the principal poetic and literary capital of al-Andalus and it flourished as such until its conquest by the Almoravids in 1095 (Rubiera Mata 86-87). The conquest of the city was very harsh and ended with Al-Mu‘tamid and his family’s exile to North Africa. (14) His departure from Seville is best expressed by poets of his court, but as Rubiera Mata notes, the most sincere songs of desperation are offered by Al-Mu‘tamid himself, “son cantos desesperados del prisionero que lo tuvo todo y tal vez los más sinceros de la poesía hispanoárabe” (95). From his exile to Agmāt, he composes his last verses and writes his own epitaph. As Moseh ibn Ezra before him, Al-Mu‘tamid also feels to be a stranger and a captive among people of the same religion and language. He believes that his exile will be wept by the closest inanimate objects that defined his political, religious, and military power: the throne platform, the mosque pulpit, the sharp swords and spears, respectively. Not surprisingly, he mentions that the dew, the aroma, and his palaces in Seville, al-Zāhi and al-Zāhir, that once used to long for his presence and now ignore him, they will also cry the unjust twist of Fate. (15) Al-Mu‘tamid blames the harsh Destiny, “el malvado destino”, that has been unjust with the righteous - his clan, the sons of the rain, who have been humiliated by the Almoravid conquest.

3a. The Almohads. Valencia in Hispano-Arabic Poetry.

But the story of harsh exile doesn’t end with the Almoravid’s conquest of al-Andalus. Their domination was short-lived and their successors, the Almohads (16), enter the Peninsula in 1147 and soon after another Muslim Paradise will fall: Valencia.

Al-Rusafi’s (17) ultimate expression of personal suffering is shared in his emotionally-charged verses. In poem #35, exiled, he begs his friends who are on their way to Valencia. He says: my friends, take my heart to Valencia, to the far away country, and tell everybody of a nostalgic’s pain. But, wait, do not leave without loading your shoes with my kisses and offer them to the bridge Ma’an. (18) The poet’s insistence and desire to offer his heart and innumerable kisses to the city, (19) specifically to the Bridge Ma’an, reflect the strong symbiosis between the citizen and the created urban spaces. The sweet life that he enjoyed in Valencia is represented by the public spaces in the city, the Rusafa, the Bridges, and the Albufera. (20) 

But it is not only the urban arquitectural memory that affects Al-Rusafi. His deepest feelings of loss emerge from his delicate verses that capture our olphactory sensibility. For him, the act of pronouncing the name of his beloved Valencia produces a completely intoxicating sensorial experience. Suddenly, the desert is impregnated with a perfume that makes all caravan horsemen feel as if they were drunk.  Could it be, asks Al-Rusafi that the wind has spilled the musk on his way, or has someone pronounced the name of Valencia? (21) 

Friends, what happened to the desert that is now impregnated with perfume? What happened with the horsemen in the caravan

that they are shaking their heads as if they are drunk?

Has the musk crumbled in Zephyr’ way,

or has someone pronounced the name of Valencia? (My translation)


The burning pain of exile that the poet feels in his core has been caused by the harsh exile and it can only be extinguished with the remembrances of Valencia, with memories that function as fresh water. The burning displacement of his being has no other remedy but the soothing calling of the city’s name and the memories of his past life.

3b. The Almohads. Elegies for Sefarad.

The city also continues to remain a constant presence in Hispano-Jewish poetry. In his elegies, Abraham Ibn Ezra Qinah (1089-1164) (22) describes the devastation of Al-Andalus (or better said, Sefarad) at the hands of the Almohads. In the next poem the motif of the city as a woman parallels the images adopted by already discussed poets from al-Andalus. The difference is that for Ibn Ezra, the city of Lucena has become a widow. He laments the disgrace that happened: the urban space where the Jewish community had lived in peace for a thousand years has been destroyed by the enemy and its citizens dispersed or killed. The city has lost all its Glory, the Laws, and the Scriptures. The Misnah has been sealed and the Talmud is now sterile. Hired assassins and violent men are everywhere and the place of worship has been converted into a house of orgy. (23) His words are explicit of the devastating events that were witnessed by the Jewish communities in various cities: Seville has lost its synagogue and Cordoba has been converted into a devastated sea and leveled to nothing. Their rulers and Jewish citizens were killed and some had to convert to a “strange” religion. No one from the Jewish community has been left alive in Jaén, Almería, Mallorca, or Málaga. The total destruction of the cities and the exile from al-Andalus is traumatic for the poet: “Y de su tierra partió, que es Sefarad/ y a Roma bajó con alma turbada” (Saenz-Badillos 151).

The intolerance towards the Other continues in the subsequent Christian conquests of the cities of al-Andalus, who win Badajoz in 1230, Cordoba in 1236, Valencia in 1238, and Seville in 1248. 

4. Christian Conquest. Elegies for al-Andalus.

In the 13th century, al-Andalus rapidly falls to the hands of the Christians. As expected, Christian architectural ideology reveals a great desire to control the powerful visual image of Islam and Judaism. The reinforcement of Christian identity and cultural purity started with the transformation of the urban space. The city and its arquitectural structures were destroyed, erased, or replaced by something that would separate even more the already fractured identities in the Iberian Peninsula. The Church’s desire to separate itself from the Andalusian Islam and Jewish reality is evident, but impossible.

Ibn Al-Abbar of Valencia (1199-1260) witnessed the fall of his city at the hands of Jaime el Conquistador. Exiled to Tunez, Ibn al-Abbar provides another example of the city as Worldly Paradise, as a young woman, and as the place that defines him as an individual. Using the topic of UbiSunt, he asks: Where is Valencia? Where are her houses, her doves, her Rusafa, her Bridge, her gardens, and her green trees? Everything that represented Valencia has been destroyed by the Christians:

¿Donde está Valencia y sus casas y sus cánticos y arrullos de sus palomas? ¿Dónde la gala de su Rusafa y de su Puente…?  ¿Dónde sus lugares sombrosos, sus jardines fragrantes, sus árboles? […] Se deshicieron los collares de sus flores desprendidos de su cuello, y perdieron la luz refulgente que tenían su Albufere y su mar.  (Terés 296)

In another elegy we see a specific relation between the urban space and the poet’s sense of great loss. Valencia, the place of eternal spring, where all his dreams came true, has been transformed now into battlefields for foreigners. The most important and defining urban setting of the Muslim presence are now lost, the Koranic schools are in ruins and the Christian bells have wiped out the call for prayer. He expresses his astonishment that the People of Fire are now the ones ruling in Muslim Paradise and their shadow is extending over these beautiful places. (24)

The loss of the great cities of al-Andalus in such a short time is lamented by many Muslim poets. In his elegy, Abu-l-Baqa de Ronda (1204-1286) employs the topic of Ubi Sunt, (25) as Ibn Al-Abbar and Abraham Ibn Ezra before him. In his despair, he says: Ask Valencia what happened to Murcia, where is Jativa, Jaen, Cordoba, the seat of science, and Seville? They were the main pillars of his country. What is left without these columns? There is nothing left but Christian bells and crosses. Homes are now empty and have been converted into pagan dwellings, mosques have been converted into churches. Even the mihrabs made of stone and the mimbars made of wood are shedding tears. (26) Now that Seville is also lost, Muslims don’t have a country, “no tenemos patria”. Equally important is that Abu-l-Baqa de Ronda finds no consolation, no comfort for what has happened in the Peninsula. The destruction of Islam is a great disgrace that can never be forgotten. (27) Al-Andalus is left empty without its religion. The moral of the Hispano-Arabic experience is expressed in the last verses where he accuses his people of having been careless: do not sleep because Destiny stays awake, “No te duermas que el destino vela” (Rubiera Mata 127). (28)

To conclude, the literary and architectural manifestations of the urban space are two approaches used in the creation of urban discourse and visualization. The poetic as well as the physical construction or destruction of the city represents the defiant or defeated cultural identity of its citizens, and as Dodds suggests, today’s urban spaces are a reflection of “a cultured shared, a culture born of tensions and dialogue, of resistance and admiration” (95). The Hispano-Arabic and Hispano-Jewish texts studied serve as another example of the importance of the city among the three cultures of al-Andalus in their struggle to create their own urban heterotopias: places of unrivaled desire and devastating exile.


(1). Cordoba’s total defeat in 1010, caused by Berber uprising and dynastic struggle, ultimately lead to the dissolution of the Umayyad Caliphate as a whole into Taifas petty kingdoms. The Umayyads were rulers of al-Andalus from 756. The city’s construction continued with Abd al-Rahman III al-Nasir (912-961) in 929 when he proclaimed himself Caliph, independent from the Abbasids in Baghdad. For the next century Cordoba “served as a symbol of Andalusi strength and prosperity” (Elinson 6).

(2). This 11th-century generation of Hispano-Arabic poets lived in a privileged, lavishing, refined world, built and fashioned according to their imagination. Within the natural beauty of the Heavenly-garden motif, dominated by aromatic perfumes, abundant light, running crystal-clear waters, fertile lands, and singing birds, they build breathtaking palaces, gardens, fortresses, and cities (Rubiera Mata 77-84). Unfortunately, the same poets will be the ones who will live to see their world collapse.  As Ibn Hazn expressed in his Tawk al-Hamma, I-227-228, they had to abandon the palace-cities their great-grandfathers had construced when “the hand of exile dispersed them and the claws of displacement ripened them to bits” (Ormsby 244). 

(3). Ibn Zaydun (1003-1070) was exiled from Cordoba for different political reasons, one being his love affair with Princess Wallada and other courtly intrigues. Cordoba city and the palace-city Medinat-al-Zahra were destroyed at the hands of the Berbers, during the civil war for dynastic succession in 1010.

(4).La belleza era tu rostro, el placer, tu oído, / Toda la dulzura del mundo, tu morada./ ¿No es asombroso que pueda vivir lejos de ti?/ Como si pudiera olvidar el aroma de tus calles,/ como si no estuviese separado de tus linderos,/ como si no fuese mi cuerpo criatura de tu polvo,/ como si me rodeasen los muros de mis lares” (in Rubiera Mata 83-85).

(5). I provide my own translations of all the poems cited in Spanish in Rubiera Mata.

(6). “Qué lugares para el alma, jardín y agua, / Qué lugares para la juvenil locura!”  (in Rubiera Mata 83-85).

(7). “¡Oh amigos míos, a dónde hemos llegado! /No hay principio al que el fin no siga. /Miro cómo contentar a la suerte, /pero la fortuna es adversa y la miseria llega, /dicen que acaba, pero el odio sigue.   /Me fui porque la libertad era oprimida; /intenté consolarme cuando estaba triste, /pero siguió desesperado mi corazón, /pues un país donde soy despreciado, es despreciable /y no estoy dispuesto a envilecerme. /Los enemigos no lograrán borrarme con la cárcel, /pues he visto al sol oculto entre las nubes. /No soy sino sable oculto en su vaina, /león en su cueva, sacre en su nido /o almizcle en su saquillo” (in Rubiera Mata 85).

(8).  “Estoy triste, sin alegría: el vino se avinagra; / no puedo tocar las cuerdas aunque suenen dulcemente, / no dejo de suspirar, aunque me censuren, / no encuentro otro consuelo, lejos de vosotros” (in Rubiera Mata 83-85).         

(9). Al-Saqundi (dies in 1231) describes Cordoba in his Elogio del Islam español. He considers Cordoba the seat of science and kings. Among the description of its inhabitants, natural beauty, and climate, he names the palatine cities built outside Cordoba, Medinat al-Zahra (by Abd al-Rahman III) and Al-Zahira (by Almanzor).  They were so populated, he says, that one could have walked for 10 miles and be illuminated by the light of its many candles (Elogio 105).

(10). The Almoravids (1086-1146) first enter al-Andalus in 1086 in order the stop Christians advances. A few years later they invade and conquer the main cities, where Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities alike, suffer during these political changes.

(11). For more Moseh ibn Ezra (1055-1135/38?) see Scheindlin 252-265.

(12). “El Destino me ha conducido a una tierra en la que/ mis pensamientos y deseos tiemblan de temor,/ una gente de labios balbucientes y habla impenetrable;/ al ver sus caras decae mi rostro,/ hasta que el Señor me anuncie la liberación/ de ellos, salvándome con la piel de mis dientes” (in Sáenz-Badillos, La huida de Granada 130).

(13). Cuando me viene a la memoria,/ mientras camino errante, mi juventud,/ se turban mis ideas, se confunden/ mis pensamientos y mi mente (in Sáenz-Badillos, En el destierro 131).

(14). Ibn al-Labbāna de Denia writes beautiful poems about the tragic moment of Al-Mu‘tamid’s departure on the river Guadalquivir. He ends one poem with the verses: “¡Ay, cuántos corazones se iban rotos / en aquellas galeras insensibles!”, qualifying as insensible the galley?” (Rubiera Mata 87-88).

(15). Extranjero y cautivo en tierra de africanos, / llorarán por él el estrado y el mimbar; /llorarán por él las espadas cortantes y las lanzas, /y derramarán lágrimas abundantes; /llorarán por él el rocío y el aroma, sus palacios, /al-Zāhi y al-Zāhir, que antes le buscaban y ahora le ignoran; /cuando se diga: en Agmāt ha muerto su generosidad /y no se puede esperar que vuelva hasta la Resurrección. /Pasó el tiempo, y con él, aquel reino amable, /llegó el hoy, que es huidizo. /Fue un dictamen del malvado destino, pero /¿ha sido alguna vez justo con los justos? /El tiempo fue injusto con los Banu Mā’l-Samā’, /los hijos de la lluvia del cielo, que fueron humillados (Rubiera Mata 89).         

(16). The Almohads’ domination lasted from 1147 to 1230.

(17). For more on Al-Rusafi’s poems (dies in 1177) see Elías Terés 293-294 and Teresa Garulo 75-76.

(18). The bridge Ma’an is located next to the garden of Rusafa. “Amigos, que partís, hermanos/ De mi pasión, ¡benditos seáis!/ Llevad mi corazón a la lejana patria,/ El corazón donde el recuerdo guardo de Valencia./ Como amnistiados de un exilio os creo, /que vais a relatar, cuando lleguéis,/ Las penas de un nostálgico que sufre/ Mas cómo os despedís / Sin cargar las sandalias con mis besos/ Para ofrecérselos al Puente de Ma’an?”  (#35, in Garulo 75).

(19). Al-Rusafi’s description of the city as a young girl who has seduced him when he was a younger, as the Paradise and the bride to whom God has given beauty and eternal youth (# 45 Elegia valenciana, in Garulo 76) follows the poetic trends also employed by aforementioned poets. See Ibn Zaydun, “Cordoba, la bella” (p. 2 in this article).  Another example is Safwan Ibn Idris (1165-1202) who cultivates the elegy for the lost cities. His homeland is Murcia. He compares Zanaqat to a beautiful young woman: “¡Oh Zanaqāt la bella!” Murcia (Tudmir) is Paradise, the river Segura is the Milky Way, and the flowers are the stars. It is a magical place where the breeze is wine that intoxicates you. He mentions the Alto Escarpe, the high cliff, the Seca, who are also personified as young women jealous of each other when the other is courted.  He says: If you ask Murcia for her hand, she gives you the coins of her flowers, but it is not a custom of beautiful young ladies to talk about dowry.  The metaphor of the marriage (engagement) between the poet and the city continues with the participation of the birds whose song makes the branches dance and the river who has dressed the fish in armors for the celebration (in Rubiera Mata 121).

(20). “Pedid la lluvia en el Puente y en la Rusafa;/ Seguro que la lluvia regará la Rusafa y el Puente./ Es mi patria: allí se encañoraron de pluma mis alas” (#45 Elegía valenciana, in Garulo 90-93).

(21).  “Amigos míos: ¿Qué tiene el desierto/ que está impregnado de perfume? / ¿Qué tienen las cabezas de los hombres de caravana/ que se tambalean como ebrios?/ ¿Se ha derramado almizcle en el camino de la brisa/ O es que alguien ha pronunciado el nombre de Valencia?/ Amigos míos: Deteneos conmigo y hablemos de ella,/ Pues su recuerdo es como frescor del agua/ En las entrañas ardientes (# 45 Elegía valenciana, in Garulo 90-93).

(22). Abraham Ibn Ezra Qinah was born in Tudela, a Muslim city at the time. His spent his youth in al-Andalus and lived in Toledo, Cordoba and other Andalusian cities. In 1146 when the Almohads enter the Peninsula and eradicate the Andalusian communities who do not convert, Abraham Ibn Ezra laments the end of the great époque of the Hebrew culture in al-Andalus (Saenz-Badillo 149-154).

(23). I include the entire poem, from Sáenz-Badillos, 150: “¡Ay! sobre Sefarad ha caído del cielo la desgracia;/ Mis ojos, mis ojos vierten aguas”. /Mis ojos lloran, cual manantiales, por la ciudad de Lucena;/ Libre de tacha, sola, allí vivió la comunidad exiliada/ Sin cambio alguno durante mil setenta años./ Más le llegó su día, huyó su población, se quedó viuda,/ Sin Ley, sin Escrituras, sellada la Misnah,/ Estéril el Talmud, perdió toda su Gloria. / Sicarios y hombres vilentos van de acá para allá;/ El lugar de oración y de alabanza se convirtió en casa de orgía./ Por eso lloro y gopleo las manos; en mi boca hay perpetua elegía./ Sin cesar repito: “¡Oh si mi cabeza se tornara aguas!”/ “¡Ay! sobre Sefarad ha caído del cielo la desgracia; /Mis ojos, mis ojos vierten aguas”./ Mi cabeza rasureré y gemiré amargamente por la aljama de Sevilla,/ Por sus príncipes muertos y por sus hijos cautivos,/ Por sus delicadas hijas, a religión extraña entregadas./ ¿Cómo fue abandonada Córdoba y convertida en desolado mar?/ Allí sabios y poderosos murieron de hambre y sed./ Ningún judío, ni uno solo ha quedado en Jaén ni en Almería,/ Ni en Mallorca ni en Málaga resta refrigerio alguno:/ Los judíos que sobrevivieron cruelmente fueron heridos./ Por eso me lamentaré amargamente, y mucho plañiré,/ Y mis gemidos a causa de mis dolores fluirán como aguas./ “¡Ay! sobre Sefarad ha caído del cielo la desgracia;/ Mis ojos, mis ojos vierten aguas” (also in Alvar, 37-39).

(24). On Ibn al-Abbar de Valencia’s (1199-1260) poems, see Rubiera-Mata 123-124.  The topic of Ubi Sunt and the total destruction of religious sites has already been analyzed in Abraham Ibn Ezra’s elegy about Sefarad, destroyed at the hands of the Almohads. I include Ibn al-Abbar’s entire poem: “Oh Valencia! Recordándote mis lagrimales/ Vierten sangre en lugar de agua./ ¿Cuál es el camino para llegar a unos lugares,/ Ahora campos de batalla de los extranjeros?;/ a unas colinas y a unos valles que no se despojan/ De sus vestidos de primavera, ni en invierno, ni en verano./ Era agradable detenerse allí y sestear, a veces,/ Allá donde se cumplían todos mis deseos./ Por mi padre! Aquellas escuelas coránicas en ruinas/ Donde las campanas han borrado la llamada a la oración!/ Maravilla es que las gentes del Fuego estén en el Paraíso/ Y que su sombra se extienda sobre ellos” (in Rubiera Mata 124).

(25). For more on Abu-l-Baqa de Ronda, see Rubiera Mata, 124-126. The topic of UbiSunt discussed in Abraham Ibn Ezra and Ibn Al-Abbar of Valencia’s poetry.

(26). See the religious aspect of the city’s destruction for the Jewish community in Abraham Ibn Ezra Qinah’s poems analyzed on page 10, in this paper.

(27). My translation of the Spanish verses, in Rubiera Mata 124-127.

(28).  “Hay a veces consuelo para las desgracias,/ Pero ahora el Islam no tiene consuelo ,/ Por lo que sucedió a la Península,/ Por lo que se abatió sobre ella, derrumbó montañas,/ Alcanzó al propio Islam y fue menoscabado,/ Al quedar, regiones y países, vacíos de él./ ¡Preguntad a Valencia lo que le sucedió a Murcia!/ ¿Dónde están Játiva y Jaén? / ¿Dónde está Córdoba, sede de las ciencias,/ De la que el mundo se enorgullecía?/ ¿Dónde está Sevilla y los placeres que contenía,/ Su dulce río, desbordante y caudaloso?/ Eran capitales columnas del país./ ¿Qué puede quedar si faltan las columnas?/ Llora la noble Ortodoxia de dolor/ Como llora el amante a su amor,/ Por las casas vacías Y convertidas en viviendas de paganos;/ Las mezquitas se han convertido en iglesias/ Y no hay en ellas sino campanas y cruces;/ Hasta los mihrabes lloran, y son de piedra,/ Hasta los mimbranes lloran, y son de madera./ Oh tú que estás descuidado ! En el destino hay moraleja; No te duermas, que el destino vela;/ Alegría de la patria, pero perdida Sevilla,/ Ya no tenemos patria./ Esta desgracia no puede olvidarse/ Y no tiene olvido en el transcurso del tiempo (in Alvar 38-39 and in Rubiera Mata 125-127).

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