Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
A Purim Retrospect
By W. S. Howard
COME tell us the story again,
  You told us when we were young,
Of Esther, the great Jewish queen,
  And Haman—the one they hung;
And how the tables were turned,        5
  And Mordecai came to be great,
How he won the respect of the king,
  Though sprung from low estate.
We clustered around the broad table,
  On which all the dainties were spread,        10
And the rays seemed as soft as moonbeams,
  From the seven star lamp overhead;
And we seemed once more to be children,
  Aglowing with youthful glee,
The youngest—a baby of twenty,        15
Perched up on his mother’s knee.
Well, father read out the Megillah,
  We knew it all, through and through,
Though it’s wonderful, how in that small book,
  One always finds something that’s new;        20
So we wept again where Esther
  Risked her own life to see the King,
And cried “Bravo” when Haman was ordered
  Upon his own gallows to swing.
But when we came to the hero,
  (Who used to sit out by the gate,)
Led all over Shushan by Haman,—
  And robed in the king’s own state,—
We clapped our hands for wonder,
  How strangely things came about,        30
And thought we could hear the thunder,
  That echoed the people’s shout.
And then the ten sons of Haman,
  And those that rejoiced at the news—
That ranged on the side of the wicked,        35
  And perished instead of the Jews—
We thought how God in His wisdom
  His breath to each creature doth give,
And yet how he blots out millions,
  That millions of others may live.        40
Our reading and feasting had ended,
  And father looked wisely at all,
And told us the lesson extended,
  That Esther’s brave life did recall:—
“The path of the righteous is ever        45
  God’s vigilant care and cause,
And honesty, virtue and justice,
  Are heaven’s immutable laws.
“The lowly shall rise from their thralldom,
  And sit on the kingly throne,        50
And God, in his infinite mercy,
  Will gather them for his own;
While those who sit in high places,
  And mingle not justice with power,
Shall merit the wrath of th’ Almighty        55
  And perish from that dread hour.
“The outward has nothing to boast of,
  Nor figure, nor color of skin,
The image of God is implanted,
  Engraved on the heart within;        60
The gift to rule self is to each one,
  To rule over many, to few;
But a single brave heart may work wonders,
  If only that one heart be true.”

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