‘I am Meir, b.r. Eliahu, from the city of Norgitz, which is in the land of isles called Angleterre. May I grow up in the Torah of my Creator and in fear of him; Amen, Amen, Selah.’
To celebrate Norwich’s successful bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature Writers’ Centre Norwich and writer and journalist, Keiron Pim commissioned new translations of Meir ben Elijah’s work from Ellman Crasnow and Bente Elsworth, and republished the poems in this new edition from East Publishing.
It was as WCN prepared its bid for Norwich to become a UNESCO City of Literature that Meir ben Elijah was spotted and finally emerged as England’s only medieval Hebrew poet and the first Norwich poet in a city of outstanding poets.
We can assume that Meir’s poems were written in the second half of the 13th century, at the time of the expulsions of 1290, but it is not known what happened to them over the following 650 years. His writing demonstrates a profound love of God and a strong belief that God would not abandon his people. The poems are also inspired by a deeply felt compassion for his fellow Jews and the need to instil hope as they verged on despair:
Seven hundred years later, his voice will be heard and Meir of Norwich – ‘the one who brings light’ – will be returned at last to the home where he belongs.
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Read a free sample of Into the Light: The Medieval Hebrew Poetry of Meir of Norwich below:
This publication was only possible thanks to the generous support of Arts Council England, Sonia and Brian Case, the John S Cohen Foundation, Norwich Town Close Estates and Jeremy and Sara Solnick.
Into the Light: The Medieval Poetry of Meir of Norwich is edited by Keiron Pim and Translated by Ellman Crasnow and Bente Elsworth, published by Norwich UNESCO City of Literature.
All profits from the sale of Into the Light will go to the Norwich City of Refuge programme which supports writers denied freedom of speech in their own country.