Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
Hebrew Cradle Song
By Ezekiel Leavitt (Trans. Alice Stone Blackwell)
NIGHT has on the earth descended,
  All around is silence deep,
Sleep, my darling, I am with thee;
  Sleep a calm and peaceful sleep.
I no lullabies shall sing thee;        5
  Songs are at an end to-night;
Sleep in peace, oh, sleep on sweetly,
  Long as sleep thou canst, my light.
In our native fields aforetime,
  Wondrous songs we used to sing,        10
Improvising them in gardens
  Turning green with early spring.
Where grew daffodils and myrtles,
  Stately palms upreared their heights,
Cypress trees spread wide their branches,        15
  Splendid roses blossomed bright.
But those notes are hushed and silenced;
  Ruined now our Zion lies;
Mourning sounds instead of singing;
  Yea, for songs we hear but sighs.        20
All thou needs must know, my darling,
  Of thy nation’s piteous plight,
Thou wilt learn and weep for sorrow,
  As thy mother weeps to-night.
But why now in vain disturb thee?        25
  Let thy tranquil slumber last,
Until over thee, my dearest,
  The dark day of rain hath passed!
To the school, my son, I’ll lead thee
  By the hand; there thou shalt learn        30
All our Bible and our knowledge.
  Wondrous pearls thou wilt discern—
Pearls of wisdom in our Talmud,
  Gems our sages’ lore affords;
Thou shalt taste of prayer’s first sweetness        35
  And the charm of God’s great words.
Ne’er forget thou art a Hebrew!
  Little son, remember well,
Even to the grave, the stories
  That thy mother used to tell!        40

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