Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
Out of Egypt
By Dorothea De Pass
THE FLAMING sunset bathed the distant hills
In gold, the air was chill, and darkness fell
Upon the silent land. Then through the night
A cry of pain rose like a wave, and fell,
Again and yet again it soared aloft,        5
But dying to be born anew; a wail
Of anguish wild, of hoarse and deep despair
From countless hearts, who called unto their gods
With tears and sobs, with broken prayers in vain!
For death attired in red, with scourge and flail        10
Had swept through Egypt at the voice of God.
And as he passed behold his steps were stained
With blood. All first-born children in the land
Were dead. The Pharaoh and the shepherd mourned
Alike, for blood red tracks were traced from door        15
To door; from palace garden to the home
Of those who lived in pinch of utter want.
Then God spake, and the voices of the crowds
Were stilled: “I am the Lord. I am the Lord,
My children you have treated like the dust,        20
My chosen people you have bound with shame.
You hold them, and you would not let them go,
So I the Lord their God have taken all
The first-born in your land …
But Israel’s children have I spared to live,        25
And death into their house hath entered not.
Repent, repent, and pray you be stiff-necked
And proud no more.” Then ceased the voice of God.
And mourning into hatred turned, the fumes
Of passion smote upon their souls—“Begone,        30
Begone accursed of our sight, arise
And flee, lest we be all dead men; take gold,
And silver, flocks and herds, and leave us peace.”
So Israel fled out in the night, and came
Not to that land again. And now once more        35
A silence fell, and stars of heaven gazed
Upon the stricken homes, upon the palm
Trees listening to the whisper of the wind,
Upon the silent Nile, upon the land
Of sin.        40

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