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.
 
B’nai B’rith
By Miriam del Banco
 
ADOWN the vista of the long ago,
  Like crimson flowers anod on slender stems,
  Or like the gleam of iridescent gems
That half-concealed along the wayside glow,
  Good deeds and great, and impulses divine        5
  Mark man’s endeavor on the paths of time.
 
Whene’er a noble deed is sung by Fame,
  A flush of joy enkindles east and west;
  Yea, half-unconsciously, all earth is blessed,
Since each life hath on every heart a claim.        10
  Doth not the rose await the butterfly,
  The brook assume the blue of summer sky?
 
Thus on the path of time a glowing light,
  That gave its aid to weary, struggling men,
  Reflected was again and yet again,        15
E’en a lamp between two mirrors bright;
  And clearly burned that beacon-light wherewith
  Men learned thy life, thy love, B’nai B’rith.
 
For to the lonely widow’s bare abode
  Thou bringest comfort, thou the tear dost dry        20
  On pallid orphan cheek; the sufferer’s cry
Has touched thy tender heart as with a goad;
  The darkened chamber where the sick repose,
  Thy helpful hand, thy cheering presence, knows.
 
And e’en to realms far, far across the seas,        25
  Where Hunger toils, yet cannot ease its want,
  Where chatt’ring Cold is clad in garments scant,
And dark Oppression reigns,—for even these
  Thy strong right hand has snapped the iron rod,
  And ’mid fierce conflict claimed a truce of God.        30
 
Here did thy foot, on Freedom’s daisied turf,
  For far Roumania’s child a refuge seek
  From fire, from sword, from crimes we dare not speak;
Here manhood crowned the erstwhile cowering serf.
  And thou didst teach him glorious liberty:        35
  Hark! the refrain, “My country, ’tis of thee!”
 
Ne’er has that country summoned thee in vain;
  Thy soul rose ever, ready at her call,
  Poor wind-swept Galveston, ’neath ruined wall,
Found swift relief from hunger, want and pain.        40
  No tardy charity thy offering mars—
  Brothers are all beneath the Stripes and Stars.
 
And now the pearl of fifty-seven years
  Glides on the slender golden thread of time;
  The while lost voices through our converse chime,        45
We see loved faces through a mist of tears—
  The friends who worked beside us long ago,
  Who slumber where the waning grasses grow.
 
Their hearts conceived a glorious brotherhood
  Of friendship and of love—a power that glides        50
  From man to man, and yet fore’er abides,
The pioneers of progress they, who stood
  Upon the starry mountain peaks of time,
  And saw the future in a light sublime.
 
Their task is done; they gave our outstretched hands        55
  The silken banner and the silvery horn,
  On! upward, then! A golden age is born!
A century its magic flower expands!
  On life’s great summits seek ye out its birth,
  And with its bloom and fragrance fill the earth.        60
 
 
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