Rabbi ben Ezra
"Rabbi ben Ezra" is a poem by Robert Browning about Abraham ibn Ezra (1092–1167), one of the great poets, mathematicians, and scholars of the 12th century. He wrote on grammar, astronomy, the astrolabe, etc.
The poem begins:
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be [...]— Stanza I, lines 1-2
It is not a biography of Abraham ibn Ezra; like all of Browning's historical poems, it is a free interpretation of the idea that ibn Ezra's life and work suggests to Browning. At the center of the poem is a theistic paradox that good might lie in the inevitability of its absence:
For thence,—a paradox
Which comforts while it mocks,—
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:
What I aspired to be,
And was not, comforts me:
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i' the scale.— Stanza VII
The poem was published in Browning's Dramatis Personae in 1864. The protagonist believed that "a lunar eclipse at the beginning of an illness has a baneful influence, that a solar eclipse prolongs the period of sickness, and that a conjuction of planets or of the sun and the moon is a very dangerous sign", a belief that was common with the Greek-Alexandrinian sect of iatromathematicians.
- Browning, Robert (1897). The Poetical Works. 1. London: Smith Elder and Co. pp. 580–583.
- Smith, David Eugene (July 1, 1917). "Medicine and Mathematics in the Sixteenth Century". Ann Med Hist. 1 (2): 125–140. OCLC 12650954. PMC 7927718. PMID 33943138.
- "How a TV baseball movie inspired late Lennon love song", Dalya Alberge, The Observer, 4 October 2020
- Pebble in the Sky, a science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov that mentions the poem
- "Grow Old with Me", a song by John Lennon, based in part on Browning's poem
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