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.
 
Josef Israels
By Elias Lieberman
 
WHEN the fisher-folk of the Netherland coast
  On perilous cruises sped,
When the howling wind and the swirling foam
  A message of danger read—
There was one to measure the dread of the sea        5
  For the helpless women then,
Whose bread was found on the crest of the wave
  By the sturdy fishermen.
 
There was one to read the cry of the heart
  As it sobbed to the lonely stone,        10
On the mound of the man who came no more,
  Who left her all alone—
Alone to the wind and the sea and the storm
  That had claimed their murderous fill;
Alone to the break of the taunting deep        15
  And a cottage void and still.
 
There was one to sound the plumb of despair
  In the wandering martyr race
That flies with the wind in the fearful round
  Of an everlasting chase;        20
To note the patient shoulder shrug,
  The pathos of mind and eye,
In the form of the man with the mortal wounds,
  Who yet disdained to die.
 
Be good to the soul of the master, Lord,        25
  Who limned with a deathless hand,
The woes of the men whose mettle you try—
  The waifs of the sea and the land.
Be good to his artist soul, O Lord,
  For he ate of the bread of tears        30
And drank from the bitter cup of those
  Who count the leaden years.
 
 
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