Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
The God of Israel
By C. M. Kohan
THE GOD of Israel sate on high,
  And methought He mocked the dead;
The twisted limbs of agony,
  The staring eyes of dread,
The lips that froze on a dying prayer        5
  And blessed Him as they bled.
The God of Israel sate on high,
  And He mocked His people’s trust;
He heard the tyrant’s blasphemy,
  He saw the Injustice just;        10
He saw the valley strewn with death
  And the wind that blew its dust.
I raised my voice and cried aloud
  (He smiled as if He heard):
“Behold, dishonour is their shroud        15
  For that they keep Thy Word:
They strangle them with thongs of shame
  Or hew them with the sword.
“With stripes and steel and bitter scorn
  They trample down their pride;        20
The silent souls of the yet unborn
  Lie maimed in the soul of the bride;
In bitterness their hearts awake,
  In bitterness abide.
“In bitterness, in bitterness        25
  They gaze upon the past,
Nor worship they Thy Word the less,
  Nor scorn Thy Word at last,
Who, free within Thy bounteous air,
  In bonds of hate are cast.        30
“For bonds that cleave the flesh are ill,
  But other bonds are base
That cleave the heart’s benignant will,
  Or darken for a space
The eyes of reason and of right.”        35
  Yea, thus I cried apace.
The God of Israel smiled on high
  As on a babbling child;
But I saw the bays of victory,
  And Justice undefiled,        40
And Mind and Honour hand in hand,
  And Envy reconciled.
The Past had doffed its robe of pain,
  Flung off its mourning-hood,
When Joy upraised her veil again        45
  And found the Future good;
She raised the folds of her lustrous cloak
  There—clear-eyed Duty stood.

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