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.
 
During the Crusades (“Swift as birds of prey”)
By Menahem Ben Jacob
 
SWIFT as birds of prey, they darted
On our helpless men and women,
Making martyrs of our people.
But they slew the body only,
And the soul escaped uninjured.        5
They assailed us with false pretexts,
Yea, with wrongful accusations—
“For the festive season,” said they,
“Ye have slain a Christian infant!”
Yet, withal, they promised pardon,        10
If our faith we would relinquish.
None of the believers faltered!
First was Samuel executed;
Next his wife, and then his daughter,
Son’s wife, brothers, and their offspring.        15
Simchah bent his head in prayer;
Joseph and his race we honor,
For he went to death in triumph.
Moses stood in fire encircled,
Followed by his son and daughter;        20
Who, entwined, would join their father.
Israel’s tears in streams were flowing;
Nor could tears the flames extinguish.
Also Shabtai and his consort,
Who would not their faith abandon,        25
Were consumed to dust and ashes.
Gracious Lord, behold these victims,
Who in death the truth attested,
“God is One, there is no other!”
 
 
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