Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
By John Kebble Hervey
THE ANCIENT of cities!—the lady of nations!
  The home where the cherubims hovered in light!
Where the breeze has a voice like those old “lamentations”
  That saddened thy day with their omens of night,
And the river’s low song seems to echo the strain        5
Which the prophet poured out to thy spirit—in vain!
Bright land of the promise!—whose vision of glory
  Had dazzled thy sense, till ’t was feeble to see!
O, chosen for others to keep the high story
  Whose record was vain for thy children and thee!        10
Lone Esau of nations, that weepest alway,
While the gentile is rich in thy birthright today!
Lost land of the minstrel!—whose harp, in its sadness,
  Brought music from heaven, to play to thy heart,—
Whose spell of a moment came down on thy madness,        15
  And bade, for an hour, thy dark angel depart,—
Till the power of its warning expired with its strain,
And the spirit of evil came o’er thee again!
And O, for the outcast who drank of thy glory,—
  The lost one of Judah,—the chosen of yore,—        20
The priest of thy temple,—the heir of thy story,—
  Who dwelt in thy vineyards, that blossom no more!
Afar, ’mid the heathen, he sitteth forlorn,—
And thy fruit is the bramble, thy greenness the thorn!
It was not for Edom that Zion was braided
  With crowns of the sunshine and garlands of bloom,
Where the wild Arab wanders the cedar hath faded,
  The bird of the wild keepeth watch on the tomb;—
And the soil of the simoon awaits the far day,
When the rain shall return to the wilderness gray.        30
Pale daughter of Zion!—all wasted with weeping,
  Thy footstool the desert,—its dust on thy head;
Thy long weary watch o’er the wilderness keeping,
  And sitting in darkness, like them that be dead;—
A veil like the widow’s hath shadowed thy pride,        35
And a sorrow is thine like no sorrow beside!
And sadly thy son by each far-foreign river
  Sits, as he sat in the Babel of old,—
Lone ’mid the nations,—all homeless forever,
  ’Mid homes full of children,—and poor ’mid his gold;—        40
With a mark on his brow of the brand in his brain,
Like the record God wrote on the forehead of Cain!
Weary with wandering and wasted with sadness,
  And walking by lights that are all from the past,—
Wishes, scarce hopes, waken smiles without gladness,        45
  As backward his thoughts, like the mourner’s, are cast;
For the tale of the Hebrew who wanders alway
Is the fable and type of his people today!
A proverb to most, and a moral to all,
  And a lamp unto others, though sitting in gloom,—        50
He seems like a mute in a festival hall,
  And is still looking forward for that which hath come;—
Like the children of Eblis, he hideth his smart,
And walks through the world with his hand on his heart!
All lands are as Moab—all countries are Edom,
  To the Hebrew, who sits in his sackcloth of sin,—
Till the trumpets of God calling others to freedom,
  The Jews to that banner at length shall come in;—
And Salem must sit in her desert alone,
Till the seed of the Lord by all rivers be sown.        60
Then, daughter of Judah! look up from thy slumber!
  And lo! a bright vision of turrets and spires!
A hymn o’er the desert, from harps without number!
  Thy children at rest by the shrine of their sires!
The song-bird on Carmel,—the rose in the plain,—        65
And the streams flowing backward to Zion again!

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