Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
Abraham and His Gods
By Richard Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton)
BENEATH the full-eyed Syrian moon,
  The Patriarch, lost in reverence, raised
His consecrated head, and soon
  He knelt and worshipped while he gazed:
“Surely that glorious Orb on high        5
Must be the Lord of earth and sky.”
Slowly towards its central throne
  The glory rose, yet paused not there
But seemed by influence not its own
  Drawn downwards through the western air        10
Until it wholly sunk away,
And the soft Stars had all the sway.
Then to the hierarchy of light,
  With face upturned the sage remained—
“At least Ye stand forever bright—        15
  Your power has never waxed or waned!”
Even while he spoke, their work was done
Drowned in the overflowing Sun.
Eastward he bent his eager eyes—
  “Creatures of Night! false gods and frail!        20
Take not the worship of the wise;
  There is the Deity we hail.
Fountain of light, and warmth, and love
He only bears our hearts above.”
Yet was that One—that radiant One        25
  Who seemed so absolute a King,
Only ordained his round to run
  And pass like each created thing;
He rested not in noonday prime
But fell beneath the strength of time.        30
Then like one laboring without hope
  To bring his toil to fruitful end,
And powerless to discern the scope
  Whereto his aspirations tend,
Still Abraham prayed day and night        35
“God! Teach me to what God to pray.”
Nor long in vain; an inward Light
  Arose to which the sun is pale.
The knowledge of the Infinite,
  The sense of Truth that must prevail:—        40
The presence of the only Lord
By angels and by men adored.

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