Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
By N. N.
THRONES that stood and realms that nourished,
  Races that have ruled the world,—
They have fallen, they have perished,
  And new standards are unfurled.
Gods are banished at whose altars        5
  Nations have been wont to pray,
  And where Wisdom erst held sway
Ignorance supinely falters.
Deeds that once with blare and clangor
  Filled the earth, have ceased to be;        10
Even their renown no longer
  Lives in lays of minstrelsy.
Lo! the hero’s might is broken
  And his sword is gone to rust;
  Lips are steeped in death and dust        15
That have sweetly sung and spoken.
But athwart the gulf of ages
  From whose all-devouring deep
Songs of bards and words of sages
  Mist like in tradition sweep,—        20
Radiant and serene reposes,
  Unattained by mist and gloom,
  Undiminished by the tomb,
A colossal image—Moses.
Though we wot not of his feature,        25
  Of such ken there is no need,
For his aspect is the creature
  Of his word and of his deed,—
Of the word that is engraven
  Even on the soul that’s lost        30
  Of the deed that led his host
Toward freedom, truth and Heaven.
Thus we see him; Superhuman
  In his purpose and in might,
Tender is his love as woman,        35
  Fierce in the defense of right;
Meek and faltering, yet compliant,
  In the presence of the Lord,—
  In obedience of his word
Bold, unyielding and defiant.        40
Even as the luminary
  Of our days from fumous height—
Lifeless, barren, solitary—
  Beams with life diffusing light;
So he rises on our vision        45
  From the past which phantoms shroud,
  Life-impregnate, halo-browed,
In the garb of his tradition.
What he wrought and what he uttered,
  Where he trod and where he stood;        50
Where the flaming briar fluttered
  In the desert’s solitude;
At the throne of him who trifled
  With the wrath revealed of God,
  And where with uplifted rod        55
The pursuing hosts he stifled;
On that pilgrimage unequaled
  When he smote the barren rock,
Or by marvel or decree quelled
  Ingrate murmurs of his flock;        60
When from Sinai, rent with thunder,
  He descended with the Law:—
  Thrills with reverential awe
And compels transcendent wonder.
As he lived so was his passing        65
  Self-obscuring, tranquil, grand,
As with eyes that death was glassing
  He beheld the promised land—
Did he ween as on that mountain
  He expired meek and brave,        70
That while man still man would be,
Far into eternity,
  He would look on Moses’ grave
As his birthright’s sacred fountain?

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