Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
An Invocation
By Isidore G. Ascher
OH, harp of Judah! wake again!
  Can no one deftly touch thy strings
To scatter far the sacred strain
  Which from divinest patience springs!
Have all the strife-sown troublous years        5
  No joys for happy song to cast?
Can love distil no hope from tears,
  Or steal no beauty from the past?
Has music lost its spell and power
  To summon hopes that only rest?        10
Endowed with truths, our lasting dower,
  That mock the ages’ wear and test;
Can no heart-stirring melody
  Imbued with light and touched with fire,
Flow from a nation proud and free        15
  Whose past must urge them to aspire?
Reproach, an ignominious sea,
  Can follow in our wake no more;
The poisoned waves of calumny
  Are washed away from Freedom’s shore.        20
The justice of a nobler age
  Has reached and raised our scattered race;
Our history shows a fairer page,
  Our future wears a brighter face.
The rooted weeds of narrow thought        25
  Which closely cling, or idly spread,
Which ignorance has sown and wrought,
  Are crushed and buried with the dead.
A loftier sense of heavenly things,
  A wider view of human life        30
Have fashioned tolerance: which brings
  Its own repose to cast off strife.
Beyond man’s vain imaginings,
  Is Israel’s faith that never dies,
The boon of slaves—the pride of Kings—        35
  Its meanings make the nations wise,
And thro’ the mists of ages gone,
  Its God-stamped visions still appear
As in the Bible’s earliest dawn,
  Supremely true, divinely clear!        40
And who asserts that Judah’s claim
  To any chosen land is o’er?
When all the earth contains her fame
  That spreads and widens evermore;
The truths that sanctify her creed        45
  Shall scatter hopes where’er they shine,
Until all men shall feel the need
  Of her own unity divine.
So wake, my harp, my fingers press
  Thy rust-worn strings, while fancy longs        50
To dower with melodiousness,
  The burden of unuttered songs;
My faltering touch may reach in vain
  The music of my sacred themes,
Still Truth may charm the feeble strain        55
  And lend its sweetness to my dreams!

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