Yehudah ha-Levi is one of the best-known Spanish Jewish poets. Born in Toledo when it was still under Islamic rule, he became a prolific writer of both Arabic and Hebrew poetry. His writing touches on themes such as love, friendship, religious devotion, hope, wisdom, and sorrow.
Ha-Levi's most famous work is The Kuzari, comprised of 5 essays written between 1120 and 1140. The Kuzari tells how the king of the Khazars decided to adopt Judaism after consulting with apologists for the Christian, Islamic, and Judaic religions. According to Rabbi Eliyahu (the "Gaon") of Vilna, The Kuzari is "holy and pure, and the fundamentals of Israel's faith and the Torah are contained within." It has been translated into Hebrew, Ladino, English, French, German, and several other languages.
A Love Song
'Do you see over my shoulders falling,
Snake-like ringlets waving free?
Have no fear, for they are twisted
To allure you unto me.'
Thus she spoke, the gentle dove,
Listen to your plighted love:
'Oh, how long I wait, till my sweetheart comes back,' she said,
'Laying his caressing hand underneath my burning head.'