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.
 
Abraham
By John Stuart Blackie
 
I WILL sing a song of heroes,
  Crowned with manhood’s diadem,
Men that lift us when we love them
  Into nobler life with them.
 
I will sing a song of heroes        5
  To their God-sent mission true,
From the ruin of the old time
  Grandly forth to shape the new:
 
Men that, like a strong-winged zephyr,
  Come with freshness and with power,        10
Bracing fearful hearts to grapple
  With the problem of the hour:
 
Men whose prophet-voice of warning
  Stirs the dull, and spurs the slow,
Till the big heart of a people        15
  Swells with hopeful overflow.
 
I will sing the song of Terah,
  Abraham in tented state,
With his sheep and goats and asses,
  Bearing high behests from Fate;        20
 
Journeying from beyond Euphrates,
  Where cool Orfa’s bubbling well
Lured the Greek and lured the Roman,
  By its verdurous fringe to dwell.
 
When he left the flaming idols,        25
  Sun by day and Moon by night,
To believe in something deeper
  Than the shows that brush the sight,
 
And, as a traveller wisely trusteth
  To a practiced guide and true,        30
So he owned the Voice that called him
  From the faithless Heathen crew.
 
And he travelled from Damascus
  Southward where the torrent tide
Of the sons of Ammon mingles        35
  With the Jordan’s swelling pride.
 
To the pleasant land of Schechem,
  To the flowered and fragrant ground
’Twixt Mount Ebal and Gerizim,
  Where the bubbling wells abound.        40
 
To the stony slopes of Bethel,
  And to Hebron’s greening glade,
Where the grapes with weighty fruitage
  Droop beneath the leafy shade.
 
And he pitched his tent in Mamre,        45
  ’Neath an oak-tree tall and broad
And with pious care an altar
  Built there to the one true God.
 
And the voice of God came near him,
  And the angels of the Lord        50
’Neath the broad and leafy oak-tree
  Knew his hospitable board;
 
And they hailed him with rare blessing
  For all peoples richly stored,
Father of the faithful, elect        55
  Friend of God, Almighty Lord.
 
And he sojourned ’mid the people
  With high heart and weighty arm,
Wise to rein their wandering worship,
  Strong to shield their homes from harm.        60
 
And fat Nile’s proud Pharaohs owned him,
  As a strong, God-favored man,
Like Osiris casting broadly
  Largess to the human clan.
 
And he lived long years a witness        65
  To a pure high-thoughted creed,
That in ripeness of the ages
  Grew to serve our mortal need.
 
Not a priest and not a churchman
  From all proud pretentions free,        70
Shepherd chief and shepherd-warrior
  Human-faced like you and me:
 
Human-faced and human-hearted,
  To the pure religion true,
Purer than the gay and sensuous        75
  Grecian, wider than the Jew.
 
Common sire, whom Jew and Christian,
  Turk and Arab, name and praise;
Common as the sun that shines
  On East and West with brothered rays.        80
 
 
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