Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
Nehemiah to Artaxerxes
By William Knox
(Nehemiah ii. 1–5.)

’TIS sorrow, O King! of the heart,
  Not anguish of body or limb,
That causes the hue from my cheek to depart,
  And mine eye to grow rayless and dim.
’Tis the mem’ry of Salem afar,        5
  Of Salem the city of God,
In darkness now wrapped like the moon and the star
  When the tempests of night are abroad.
The walls of the city are razed,
  The gates of the city are burned;        10
And the temple of God, where my fathers have praised,
  To the ashes of ruin are turned.
The palace of kings is consumed,
  Where the timbrels were wont to resound;
And the sepulchre domes, like the bones they entombed,        15
  Are mould’ring away in the ground.
And the fugitive remnant that breathe
  In the land that their fellows have trod,
Sit in sorrow and gloom; for a shadow like death
  O’erhangs every wretched abode.        20
I have wept, I have fasted, and prayed
  To the great and terrible God,
For this city of mine that in ruin is laid,
  And my brethren who smart by His rod.
And now I beseech thee, O King!        25
  If favor I find in thy sight,
That I may revisit my home, where the wing
  Of destruction is spread like the night.
And when I to Shushan return
  From rebuilding my forefathers’ tomb,        30
No more shall the heart of thy cup-bearer burn
  With those sorrows that melt and consume.

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