Politics and poetry in the works of Shalom Shabazī

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The poetry of Yemen from its inception, at least as it has been known to us since the twelfth century, was liturgical poetry, connected to religious worship. A revolutionary change occurred with the verse of Yosef ben Israel (late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries), and even more so with that of his younger relative, Shalom Shabazī (1619-80s). This happened as a result of the severe deterioration in the status of the Yemenite Jews after the rise of the Zaydī dynasty in 1629. The poetry of the Jews of Yemen, in particular that of Shabazī, became the primary tool for their spiritual expression, and the subject of exile and redemption took on vitality and had concrete political significance in three ways: (a) vivid and vital depictions of the imagined eschatological-messianic reality of the redemption that is about to happen; (b) description of the events themselves, originating from a deep sense that it is necessary to keep a faithful record for the generations to come; (c) expressions of revenge and contempt toward the Zaydī ruling power, which represented the whole of Islam.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-255
Number of pages16
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Jewish poetry in Yemen
  • Jews and Muslims in Yemen
  • Jews of Yemen
  • Shalom Shabazi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


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