Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
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Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
 
During the Crusades (“Yes, they slay us and they smite”)
By E. H. Plumptre
 
YES, they slay us and they smite,
Vex our souls with sore affright;
All the closer cleave we, Lord,
To thine everlasting word.
Not a word of all their Mass        5
Shall our lips in homage pass;
Though they curse, and bind, and kill,
The living God is with us still.
Yes, they fain would make us now,
Baptized, at Baal’s altar bow;        10
On their raiment, wrought with gold,
See the sign we hateful hold;
And, with words of foulest shame,
They outrage, Lord, the holiest name.
We still are thine, though limbs are torn;        15
Better death than life forsworn.
 
Noblest matrons seek for death,
Rob their children of their breath;
Fathers, in their fiery zeal,
Slay their sons with murderous steel;        20
And in heat of holiest strife,
For love of Thee, spare not their life.
The fair and young lie down to die
In witness of Thy Unity;
From dying lips the accents swell,        25
“Thy God is One, O Israel”;
And bridegroom answers unto bride,
“The Lord is One, and none beside”;
And, knit with bonds of holiest faith,
They pass to endless life through death.        30
 
 
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