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.
 
Akiba
By Alter Abelson
 
O HEART, who art a fable, new and true;
  O soul, a legend strange and sweet as joy;
  Lover, whose love has built, not razed a Troy;
Akiba, whom heaven and angels taught to woo.
 
Lover, and lawyer, all Israel’s sceptred mind,        5
  Who luminous mists hast orbed into a sun
  Of Oral Law, and logic’s praises won;
A shepherd’s crook you left, a wand to find.
 
Our blameless Lancelot of lists of lore,
  Who made Romance a theme for cherubim;        10
  And love, God’s Song of Songs, His heavenly hymn;
And law, a mine where mercy digs for ore.
 
God’s patriot, who heaven with life hast sought,
  And Holylands in Holyland hast known;
  Thou art a part of heaven, thou hast shown,        15
Thou art a part of “Torah” thou hast taught.
 
What wonder you have traversed Paradise,
  It was your gentle spirit’s element;
  What wealth to heaven, what penury hell, you sent;
Courage and wisdom hailed you brave and wise.        20
 
And virtue named you saint, and greatness, great;
  Patriotism, patriot; and knowledge, sage.
  And love, a lover; your heart, its golden page.
And holiness rejoiced to own you, mate.
 
What, though the foe your frame with fires shod?        25
  What, though he drained the wine-vats of your veins?
  He only precious made like gems, your pains;
Aye, kissed by God, your feet on crowns have trod.
 
 
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