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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Ode to Zion
By Judah Halevi (c. 1075–1141)
 
Translation of Alice Lucas

                ART thou not, Zion, fain
        To send forth greetings from thy sacred rock
                Unto thy captive train,
        Who greet thee as the remnants of thy flock?
                Take thou on every side—        5
East, West, and South, and North—their greetings multiplied.
                Sadly he greets thee still,
        The prisoner of hope, who, day and night,
    Sheds ceaseless tears, like dew on Hermon’s hill—
        Would that they fell on thy mountain’s height!        10
 
        Harsh is my voice when I bewail thy woes,
                But when in fancy’s dream
        I see thy freedom, forth its cadence flows
    Sweet as the harps that hung by Babel’s stream.
                My heart is so distressed        15
                For Bethel ever blessed,
            For Peniel, and each sacred place.
                The Holy Presence there
                To thee is present where
Thy Maker opes thy gates, the gates of heaven to face.        20
 
            Oh! who will lead me on
    To seek the spots where, in far distant years,
      The angels in their glory dawned upon
            Thy messengers and seers?
            Oh! who will give me wings        25
              That I may fly away,
    And there, at rest from all my wanderings,
      The ruins of my heart among thy ruins lay?
    I’ll bend my face unto thy soil, and hold
            Thy stones as precious gold.        30
      And when in Hebron I have stood beside
    My fathers’ tomb, then will I pace in turn
            Thy plains and forest wide,
          Until I stand in Gilead and discern
    Mount Hor and Mount Abarim, ’neath whose crest        35
The luminaries twain, thy guides and beacons, rest.
 
    Thy air is life unto my soul; thy grains
  Of dust are myrrh, thy streams with honey flow;
    Naked and barefoot, to thy ruined fanes
            How gladly would I go!        40
    To where the ark was treasured, and in dim
    Recesses dwelt the holy cherubim.
 
    Perfect in beauty, Zion! how in thee
            Do love and grace unite!
    The souls of thy companions tenderly        45
      Turn unto thee; thy joy was their delight,
    And weeping, they lament thy ruin now.
      In distant exile, for thy sacred height
They long, and towards thy gates in prayer they bow.
 
    Thy flocks are scattered o’er the barren waste,        50
      Yet do they not forget thy sheltering fold;
    Unto thy garments’ fringe they cling, and haste
      The branches of thy palms to seize and hold.
    Shinar and Pathros! come they near to thee?
      Naught are they by thy light and right Divine.        55
    To what can be compared the majesty
            Of thy anointed line?
    To what the singers, seers, and Levites thine?
      The rule of idols fails and is cast down,—
Thy power eternal is, from age to age thy crown.        60
 
    The Lord desires thee for his dwelling-place
            Eternally; and blest
    Is he whom God has chosen for the grace
            Within thy courts to rest.
    Happy is he that watches, drawing near,        65
      Until he sees thy glorious lights arise,
    And over whom thy dawn breaks full and clear
            Set in the Orient skies.
      But happiest he who with exultant eyes
    The bliss of thy redeemed ones shall behold,        70
And see thy youth renewed as in the days of old.
 
 
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