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.
 
The Jewish Exile
By Leon Hühner
 
   After the suppression of Bar Kochba’s revolt, the Jews were debarred by Hadrian from entering Jerusalem. They obtained the privilege, however, of assembling once a year, upon the Mount of Olives, on the anniversary of the burning of the Temple; and from that eminence the patriots took a distant look at the beloved city.

WHEREFORE weep our brethren yonder,
  Gathered from afar and near;
Wherefore, father, tell me, wherefore
  Are these weary pilgrims here?
 
Ah, my child, a day of mourning        5
  Brings together Israel’s fold;
Many of these weary pilgrims
  Once were warriors, strong and bold.
 
See, my child, the city yonder,
  That was once thy father’s home;        10
Now dishonored and forsaken,
  ’Tis the seat of hated Rome.
 
For we rose in strong rebellion,
  I, my child, and all my kin,
And Judea’s long lost freedom        15
  Once again we sought to win.
 
But the great decree of Heaven
  Was against our glorious band;
And at Bethar’s bloody battle
  Died the noblest of the land.        20
 
Yet the fierce and vengeful Roman,
  Not content with such a prize,
Heeded not our women’s mourning,
  Heeded not our children’s cries.
 
But he cast them from their country,        25
  From their own and native soil;
Sold them into dreadful bondage,
  To a life of hated toil.
 
Then defiled the sacred places
  With a ruthless hand and bold;        30
And the heathen dwells unpunished
  Where the priesthood dwelt of old.
 
They have changed the walks of Zion,
  Even changed her sacred name;
They have reared a heathen temple        35
  On the ruins of our fame.
 
And to fill the cup of sorrow,
  And to fill it to the brim,
Hadrian hurled his mighty fiat
  With a purpose stern and grim,        40
 
That within yon sacred portals
  Israel’s foot may never tread,
Though beneath that soil lie buried
  All the dearest of our dead.
 
Bitter, child, are all the tortures        45
  Of a cruel, heartless foe;
Yet a life of hopeless exile
  Is by far the greatest woe.
 
Here upon the Mount of Olives,
  Once a year, we still may meet,        50
Where the city of our fathers
  May our tearful vision greet.
 
So we gather from the mountains
  And we gather from the plain;
Here, amid her desolation,        55
  We behold her once again.
 
Till the sturdy sons of Judah
  Break the Roman’s haughty pride,
Never shall I cease my mourning
  Never shall my tears be dried.        60
 
For I trust, the Lord in heaven,
  Mindful of his chosen gem,
Will some day restore to glory
  Israel and Jerusalem.
 
 
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