Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
The Chosen
By Elizabeth McMurtrie Dinwiddie
CHOSEN of old, the guardians of the Law
  (God’s word to mortals, cleaving right from wrong);
Destined to serve the world; its priestly race
  Kept for that service strong.
Guarded of God through war and wilderness;        5
  Holding the truth no other people saw;
First of the nations to declare Him One;
  First to revere His Law!
Down from the ages of triumphant rule,
  Through the lost glory of a line of kings,        10
Bruised and lamenting in their brokenness—
  God heard their murmurings.
Scoffed at, they held their peace and overcame,
  Crowded by hate into the Ghetto’s pale,
Sounded to Heaven their deathless harmony,        15
  Born of a people’s wail.
Wide through the world that grief-born music rang,
  Hailed with a reverence to themselves denied;
Caged in the wall by tyrants built, they sang,
  Flinging their genius wide.        20
Out of the prisons of the Middle Age,
  Out of the reeking slums, they gave the light;
Thinkers of lofty thought, ordained of God,
  Prophets to point the right.
By their unfetterable dreams of youth,        25
  Joined to the genius that their race imbues,
Chains have been sundered till to-day remain
  Few barriers round the Jews.
History emblazons them in bondage great,
  Splendid in art, philosophy and song,        30
Now in awed wonder does the world await
  The freedom of the strong.

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