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.
 
After Yom Kippur
By Cora Wilburn
 
THE GREAT white fast! the day that solemnly
Its clarion-call sent over land and sea,
In gracious summons of the Voice Divine;
That bade the soul before truth’s inner shrine,
Clad in the whiteness of humility,        5
Itself disrobed of all externals be;—
What mandate gave the day to you and me?
 
It is the judgment day of all the year!
Unmasked, life’s vices hideously appear,
As conscience struggles with its deadly fear;        10
With introspection’s force by memory driven,
We find the flower-strewn path led far from heaven.
At cost of highest aims flung in the dust,
We have been faithless, merciless, unjust.
 
As by Thy shrines of prayer, devout we stood,        15
Throbbed heart with will-power’s love of brotherhood?
With invocations to Thy holy name,
Looked we beyond reward of earthly fame?
Dared we Thy present inspiration seek,
With might of gold’s oppression ’gainst the weak?        20
 
The glowing friendship, as a meteor’s flight,
Lost in the storm depths of swift falling night;
O’er all the beautiful, cast worldly blight.
Shall the reverberating call in vain
Echo throughout the awaiting world’s domain?        25
Nor summon Israel from lethargic sleep,
In broader fields, on grander heights to reap?
 
The Past is o’er; has justice entered in
The awakened conscience? and the worldly din
Died into silence ’neath the voice of God?        30
Know we the wherefore of the chastening rod?
That mercy’s tenderness our hearts enshrine
Are we uplifted to the heights divine?
Cleansed from the idol worship of our pride,
White robed humility be teaching guide;        35
And Israel’s heart of kinship link the hands,
Of the compassionate throughout all lands.
The righteousness of freedom, understood
Bind all of life in one vast brotherhood.
 
 
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