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.
 
Purim
By Myrtilla E. Mitchell
 
FROM Shushan’s royal palace came the edict dread and dark;
“Exterminate God’s chosen race, crush out life’s vital spark.”
This heard the youth and trembled, and the hoary head was bowed,
And in sackcloth and in ashes the faithful mourned aloud.
 
But lo! a maiden standeth now in royal garments dressed,        5
Though on her youthful brow a crown—’tis sadness, fills her breast;
The King upon his royal throne beholds that maiden fair,
The golden sceptre holdeth forth, and calls Queen Esther there.
 
“What wilt thou, Oh, Queen Esther? and what is thy behest?
Though e’en ’twere half my kingdom, it should be at thy request.”        10
Then gently spake the maiden, as she stands in beauty there:
“Let the King and Haman come to-day to the banquet I prepare.”
 
While thus with joy they feasted, and the wine cup held on high,
Again the King on Esther urged to tell her thoughts and why?
Upon her brow a shadow dark had cast its gloom this day,        15
But with a smile, then, Esther spake, and courage found to say:
 
“If I have pleased my lord the King and found grace in his eyes,
I beg that he will not refuse, or my request despise;
And that once more to-morrow, when a banquet I prepare,
The King and Haman shall again, with wine and song be there,        20
And then shall my petition before the King be laid,
And if ’tis granted, not in vain, hath Esther, fasting, prayed.”
 
’Tis night! and though on royal couch Ahashverosh now lies,
He vainly woos the god of sleep to close his weary eyes.
“Bring in the chronicled events,” the King now gives command,        25
“And thus amuse my waking thoughts with actions, as they stand.”
 
Then heard the King how Mordecai his life from ruffian spared,
“What honor has been done for this?” “Yet nothing,” they declared.
Then asked the King of Haman, “What shall in reward be done
To him who hath my royal grace and honor justly won?”        30
 
And when the monarch heard, he cried, “Take Mordecai the Jew,
And all the honors thou hast planned, make haste thee, quick to do.”
Now at the second banquet, Queen Esther makes request:
“I ask my life from out thy hand, My people at bequest.
 
“For we are sold! both I and they; not for bondman o’er the land,        35
But utterly to be destroyed, cast out, and slain, ’tis planned.”
Then rose the King in fury: “Whose bold plan this?” he cried,
“Behold him!” whispers Esther, “for ’tis Haman, at thy side.”
 
“Appease mine anger, let him hang full fifty cubits high!”
’Tis done; and messengers off speed, the Jews’ release is nigh.        40
Their sorrow now to joy is turned, and long shall Esther’s name
Illumined shine in Israel’s heart with faith’s undying fame.
 
 
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