Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
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Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
 
“Blood” v. “Bullion”
By Punch
 
 “Well then, it now appears you need my help,
Go to then: you come to me, and you say,
‘Shylock, we would have moneys’—you say so;
You that did void your rheum upon my beard,
And foot me, as you spurn a stranger cur
Over your threshold: moneys is your suit.
What should I say to you? Should I not say
‘Hath a dog money?’”
“Merchant of Venice,” Act I, Scene 3.

“With bated breath and whispering humbleness?”
Not so! There comes a season when the stress
Of insolent and exacting tyranny
Makes the most patient turn.
                    Autocracy,
Without the despot’s vaunted virtue, pride,        5
Shows small indeed. Can Power lay aside
Its swaggering part, and low petition make
(Driven by those Treasury thirsts which never slake)
For help from those it harries? Pharaoh’s scourge
Was the taskmaster’s weapon used to urge        10
The Hebrew bondsmen to their tale of toil,
But they round whom the Russian’s knouts’ thongs coil
Are of the breed of the Russian palm
Can make petition to. Could triumphs balm
The wounds of ages, here were babes indeed;        15
But blood revolts.
            Race of the changeless creed,
And ever-shifting sojourn, Shakespeare’s type
Deep meaning hides, which, when the world is ripe
For wider wisdom, when the palsying curse
Of prejudice, the canker of the purse,        20
And blind blood-hatred, shall a little lift,
Will clearlier shine, like sunburst through a rift
In congregated cloud-wracks. Shylock stands
Badged with black shame in all the baser lands.
Use him, and—spit on him! That’s Gentile wont;        25
Make him gold-conduit, and befoul the font,—
That’s the true despot-plan through all the days,
And cackling Gratianos chorus praise.
“The Jew shall have all justice.” Shall he so?
The tyrant drains his gold, then bids him—“Go!”        30
Shylock? The name bears insult in its sound;
But he was nobler than the curs who hound
The patient Hebrew from his home and drive
Deathward the stronger souls they dread alive.
Shylock? So brand him, boors and babbling wags,        35
Who scorn him, yet would share his money-bags;
Who hate him, yet can stoop to such appeal!
Beneath his meekness there’s a soul of steel.
High-featured, amply-bearded, see he stands
Facing the Autocat; those sinewy hands        40
Shaped but for clutching—so his slanderers say—
The huckster bait can coldly put away
“Blood against bullion.” The Jew-baiting band
Howl frantic execration o’er the land;
Malign and menace, pillage, persecute;        45
Though the heart’s hot, the mouth must fain be mute.
The edict fulminates, the goad pursues;
Proscription, deprivation,—aye, they use
All the old tortures, nor are then content,
But crown the work with ruthless banishment.        50
And then—then the proud Muscovite seeks grace,
And gold, from kinsmen of the harried race!
“He would have moneys” from the Hebrew hoard,
To swell his state, or whet his warlike sword;
Perchance buy heavier scourges for the backs        55
Of lesser Hebrews, whom his wolfish packs
Of salaried minions hunt.
                    Take back thine hand,
Imperious Autocrat, and understand
Gold buys not, rules not, serves not, salves not all,
Blood speaks—in favour of the helpless thrall        60
Of tyranny. Here’s no tame Shylock: he
Shall not bend low, and in a bondsman’s key,
Make o’er his money-bags with unctuous grace
To an enthroned enslaver of his race,
“Well then, it now appears you need my help”        65
(You—whose trained curs at my poor kinsmen yelp!)
“What should I say to you? Should I not say,
‘Hath a dog money?’” Blood’s response is—“Nay!”
 
 
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