Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
The Wandering Jew
By David Levi
SEEK not what I am to know,
  What my name is, never crave,
God records it, Earth and Woe,
  It may radiate the grave,
If at last my tears’ long flow        5
  Should melt the stones to hear.
Wandering ever—I, forlorn,
  Refuge seek for this poor frame.
Thinking, suffering;—Man, base-born,
  Spurns my right, ignores my claim—        10
I pass his tortures, scorn
  His piety and his jeers.
Wandering ever—storms and ire
  Burst with fury on my brow,
Adam’s curse I bore entire,        15
  Wretched, yet too proud to bow;
Victim ever, on the pyre
  I laved in grief each sin.
Midst the whirlwind raging round,
  Vanished lands, seas disappeared,        20
Crumbled all, mere dust I found,
  Empires, temples, shrines revered;
But immortal lived Thought bound
  My heart’s sad depths within.
From life’s dawn that thought upgrew,        25
  Ever present to my mind,
Vast, sublime, it shone and grew,
  All to it,—a setless sun.
Glory o’er the Past it threw
  And o’er the Future—Light.        30
Longing for the Infinite
  Moved me ever, spurs me now,
But the end has not dawned yet,
  Hope unripe hangs on the bough,
Ages do I wait and fret        35
  For that which comes not nigh.
Years to me are moments brief,
  Small the Universe appears,
Deep in thought, immersed in grief,
  Weighing tyrants with men’s fears,        40
Sweep I Hope’s harp for relief
  And raise wild terror’s cry.
Every suffering has been mine—
  Outrage, insult, struggle, pain,
Strong in sovereign thought divine,        45
  All I challenge, all disdain.
Foes will fail—not my faith’s shrine,
  No time has that uptorn.
Seek not what I am to know,
  What my name is rests in gloom,        50
God records it, Earth and Woe,
  But ’tis hidden from the Tomb;
Torture me, contempt I show
  For pity as for scorn.

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