Asleep in songs and lullabies

Leone Modena


Asleep in songs and lullabies was my heart, while I was dreaming, imagining myself amidst poets, as eloquent and intelligent as the finest wine yeast.
From my drunken slumber an illustrious man awoke me by giving me [a book of] poems: as I set my eyes on them, I was stunned by their beauty, as they were as refined as the finest linen and wool.
Among them are [texts] to implore the Lord at all times and occasions, for each holiday and Sabbath, verse to be accounted as incense: meant for all events or misfortunes!
And for every man ill with the fever of sin, it includes supplications, as a remedy for his affliction: as he reads them, the entire nation is being watched over.
Please acquire its rhymes and verse; delight yourself with them before the Lord of the world, and be saved.
Thus, you won’t be in error, if truly you’ll say that as for valiant verse never rose amidst Israel anybody like . . . Israel!

Translated by


Words in brackets appear in the original translation.


Leone Modena, “Asleep in songs and lullabies,” trans. Michela Andreatta, in Michela Andreatta, “The Poet in the Printing Shop: Leon Modena and the Para-Textual Production of Authority in Early Modern Venice,” from Shirah Devorah: matnat yedidot ve-hukrav le-professor Devora Bergman, ed. Haviva Ishay (Beer Sheva: Ben Gurion University Press, 2009), pp. 18–19. Used with permission of the translator and the editor.

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 5.

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