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.
 
O Soul, with Storms Beset!
By Solomon Ibn Gabirol (Trans. Alice Lucas)
 
      O SOUL, with storms beset,
      Thy griefs and cares forget!
      Why dread earth’s transient woe,
When soon thy body in the grave unseen
      Shall be laid low,        5
And all will be forgotten then, as though
      It had not been?
 
      Wherefore, my soul, be still!
      Adore God’s holy will,
      Fear death’s supreme decree.        10
Thus mayst thou save thyself, and win high aid
      To profit thee,
When thou, returning to thy Lord, shalt see
      Thy deeds repaid.
 
      Why muse, O troubled soul,        15
      O’er life’s poor earthly goal?
      When thou hast fled, the clay
Lies mute, nor bear’st thou aught of wealth, or might
      With thee that day,
But, like a bird, unto thy nest away,        20
      Thou wilt take flight.
 
      Why for a land lament
      In which a lifetime spent
      Is as a hurried breath?
Where splendour turns to gloom and honours show        25
      A faded wreath
Where health and healing soon must sink beneath
      The fatal bow.
 
      What seemeth good and fair
      Is often falsehood there.        30
      Gold melts like shifting sands,
Thy hoarded riches pass to other men,
      And strangers’ hands
And what will thy treasured wealth and lands
      Avail thee then?        35
 
      Life is a vine, whose crown
      The reaper Death cuts down.
      His ever-watchful eyes
Mark every step, until night’s shadows fall,
      And swiftly flies        40
The passing day, and ah! how distant lies
      The goal of all.
 
      Therefore, rebellious soul,
      Thy base desire control;
      With scantily given bread        45
Content thyself, nor let they memory stray
      To splendours fled,
But call to mind affliction’s weight and dread
      The judgment day.
 
      Prostrate and humbled go,        50
      Like to the dove laid low.
      Remember evermore
The peace of heaven, the Lord’s eternal rest.
      When burdened sore
With sorrow’s load, at every step implore        55
      His succour bless’d.
 
      Before God’s mercy-seat
      His pardoning love entreat.
      Make pure thy thoughts from sin,
And bring a contrite heart as sacrifice        60
      His grace to win—
Then will His angels come and lead thee in
      To Paradise.
 
 
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