Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
The Feast of Freedom
By P. M. Raskin
I REMEMBER in my childhood
  From my grandfather I heard
Charming tales of gone-by ages
  That my soul so deeply stirred.
Charming tales of ancient sages        5
  That I felt, I knew were true;
Stories of the hoary ages
  That remain forever new….
Of the Pesach-days he told me,
  Days that joy and sunshine bring;        10
Of the Festival of Freedom,
  Of Revival and of Spring….
Of the slave-people in Egypt,
  Whose hot blood so rashly spilt,
Soaked into cold bricks and mortar        15
  Of the fortresses they built.
How on them, the God-forsaken,
  After gloomy wintry days,
Shone at last the rays of freedom,
  Heaven’s bright and cheerful rays.        20
How among them rose a leader,
  Star-like in a gloomy night,
And he pleaded for their freedom,
  And he crushed a tyrant’s might.
How he taught the fettered people        25
  Not in vain their blood to spill,
Turning bondmen into freemen,
  Men of honor and of will.
How the people’s march to Freedom
  Could no despot’s might restrain,        30
Till before their will resistless
  Stormy ocean oped in twain….
“Then it was our people’s Spring-time,
  After which a Summer came,
Followed by a golden harvest,        35
  Free from yoke and free from shame.”
“Grand-sire, dear,” I asked enraptured,
  “How long did that Summer last?”
But he sadly gazed and pondered,
  And he answered me at last.        40
“Child, it was a long, bright Summer,
  But a winter came again,
Came with cold, and snow, and showers,
  With its gales of grief and pain.
“Frost and tempest-strife, contention—        45
  Raged once more in every part,
Stealing into souls and freezing
  Will and hope in every heart.
“Furious storm once more dispersed us;
  Israel rendered free and great,        50
Into lands of cruel despots
  Went to face a bondman’s fate….”
“Grand-sire, dear, why does this Winter
  Seem so endless, then?”—I sighed—
And two crystal tears were trembling        55
  In his eyes, when he replied.
“Yes, my boy, it seems so endless,
  But it cannot, will not be;
Israel will not slave for ever,
  One day, child, he will be free.        60
“In his soul will re-awaken
  Courage, will, and pride, and might;
Freedom’s sunrise must needs follow
  Israel’s starless exile night.
“But till then, ere Spring’s arrival—        65
  For the winter’s steps are slow—
Pesach is a sweet remembrance
  Of a spring of long ago….”

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.