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.
 
Simchas Torah
By Morris Rosenfeld
 
(The Rejoicing of the Law)

“SIMCHAS-TORAH! skip and hop
On your feet till down you drop!
In your mouth a merry jest—
And a burden in your breast.”
(Old Song.)      
 
      So frisky and fit,        5
      At table we sit,
      We eat what we choose,
      We drink and are gay.
      Sing, brother Jews,
      Be merry today!        10
      Cup after cup—
      Drink it all up
      No need to fear.
      Lift up your voice,
      To-day we rejoice,        15
      Sing brothers dear.
 
Alas, Jewish singing!
And alas! Jewish gladness,
What means it; O tell me,
And whence is the sadness        20
That weighs on my heart when I hear.
I hang down my head
Like a child that is chidden.
And oft, ere I know it,
Uncalled for, unbidden,        25
Falls bitter and burning,
A tear!
 
Not always with sorrow
Our hopes are requited;
And often the sunshine        30
Has brightened our way.
We once were a nation
Both strong and united,
And yet, O my brothers,
And yet, to this day        35
We keep not one feast day
But still doth remind us
Of swords that lie shivered
And broken behind us.
And old tattered banners,        40
Now useless and furled,
Of all our dead heroes,
Our great ones who perish,
The altars forgotten,
The ruins uncherished.        45
And scattered abroad o’er the world
No song but contains but
Two words of rejoicing,
In which we discern not
The jesting below,        50
An echo of laughter,
Of false bitter laughter,
A cry half-despairing
Of shame and of woe!…
 
O great and happy feast-day, Simchas-Torah!        55
  High above your head thy bright star flashes
To win such a feast-day, one such feast-day,
  Ten we spend fasting in sackcloth and ashes.
 
 
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