Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
Under No Skies But Ours
By Helen Gray Cone

UNDER no skies but ours, her grave be made!
  ’Neath blue unblurred and clear stars never shamed
’Tis meet that she be laid!
  Just Heaven accorded that sad right we claimed:
The Old World gave its guest        5
Back to the loving West.
The city of her birth, which exiles hail
  From that broad-breasted harbor, known so long,
Forever heaving in its rippled mail
Of steely waves, to clasp the island-seat        10
Of Freedom—whom she sang with voice so sweet,
  With voice so sweet and strong!
Not in the shadow of the shameful Past,
But in the radiance of the days to be,
  The glory of the brows of Liberty.        15
The singer of that splendor sleeps at last;
Proud Spring, shall heap her painless rest with flowers
Under no skies but ours!
On the far azure, eastern hills, where prone,
  Like slowly-crumbling pillars, memories lie,        20
Discrowned, and overthrown,
The wrinkled Orient calls upon her sons,
  Uncomforted, with an unceasing cry:
“Come, come, ye wandering ones!
A nation’s hearth-stone waits the sacred fire!”        25
But, quenching their desire,
“Mother, not yet,” they sigh,
“Not yet; the silver trumpets have not blown,
  Nor eastward moves in heaven the column-cloud.
Haply, with faint host strengthened, by-and-by,        30
  With psalms, with shawns, with ring of cymbals loud
Shall Israel return unto his own;
Not yet—alas, not yet!
To-day his face is set
Westward: for there the Foster mother stands,        35
  Young, forceful, mild, with frank, front-beaming light,
And large, warm-welcoming hands.
Lo, in her spacious lands
  The arm of Israel shall gather might!”
This was her home—aye, hers, whose noble pride
Had that dear name denied
To soil whereon her brothers suffered wrong:
  Yet of another country she was free,—
  The golden vales, the fields of Arcady,
The woods that whispered, and the streams of song!        45
Among the lucent marbles of the Greek
’Twas hers to pass, and charm grand lips to speak,
But as in siren palace reared apart,
  One born to lead his people through the sea,
Saw the Egyptian smite, and felt the smart        50
Quickening the fire-seed in his Hebrew heart
  To burst in blaze—so she!
Yea, in that bitterest year
  When Russia spurned the Jew,
  She, too, ah, from a lovelier land she, too,        55
Went forth, and left, for service more austere,
Pure Beauty smiling in the fair white fane
(The strong sweet voice we nevermore shall hear)
Thrilled sword-like through the ear
Of whoso slept, though sleep were dull as death!        60
  O strange, O holiest hour
  Of rapture and of power,
  When a great soul is girded with a Cause!
  Finding at length, led on by deep hid laws,
That Deed to do, wherefore God lent His breath,        65
O Awful Hour more strange,
Of chill surprise and change,
Command most stern that bids the doer pause
Ere yet that Deed is done,
The trump be silent, ere the field is won!        70
  How green, in coming years,
For her the glistening victor-palm had sprung!
Woe for the words unsaid, the song unsung!
  Speech falters into tears
  Tears—but such tears as fed the vital root        75
Of Hope, and haste the time of bloom and leaf.
None shall forbid high Grief:
But doubt she had forbidden, who deeply know
The vigor of that stem whence life she drew,
  The sure succession, the unfailing fruit!        80
O faithful Israel, that keep’st aflame
  The Lamp perpetual with remembrance due
Of the undying deed! Be this her fame:
The source of steadfast purpose, tireless borne.
If, in some dazzling morn        85
That breaks on e’en the blank eyes of the blind,
  The flag of Judah shall indeed unfurl,
The hero-Ezra on his arm shall bind
No lordlier hand, no subtler amulet
  Than her linkéd songs of pearl,        90
And rubies passion-red as with rare life-blood wet!
We, too, we, too, have claim
On this uniting name!
  We of the West may bow where Israel weeps.
Beneath our clear stars, never veiled in shame        95
  She woke to life, and now, alas, she sleeps,
(Proud May-time heap her painless rest with flowers!)
Under no skies but ours!

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