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.
 
The Fast of Tebeth
By Joseph Bar Samuel Tob Elem (Trans. Nina Davis)
 
LO! I recall the siege which fell on me:
  Within this month He struck me; He destroyed
  With three blows;—cut me down and left me void;—
Now He hath made me weary utterly.
 
He silenced on the eighth day all my throng;        5
  (Have I not for three things a fast proclaimed?)
  The King bade; write the law in Greek; they maimed,
They ploughed on me; they made their furrows long.
 
Upon the ninth day—wrath, disgrace, and shame!
  Stripped off was my fair robe in honor worn;        10
  For he who gave sweet words was surely torn:
Ezra the scribe—yea, he of blessed name.
 
The tenth day; then the seer was bidden: “Yea
  Write thee within the book of vision; write
  This for remembrance; now shalt thou indite        15
For them despised and crushed this self-same day.”
 
Counting the months, within the tenth the woe
  And wail he wakened; but the sorrow’s smart—
  Its onward way was branded on my heart
When one came saying: “The city is struck low.”        20
 
For these things I have scattered o’er me dust;
  O that a shaft had pierced mine heart that day!
  For such woe I would dig my grave;—but nay,
I wrought rebelliously: the Lord is just.
 
I call Thee, Thou Who hast repentance nigh        25
  For mine affliction; lo! my praying heed;
  Hear my beseeching; my salvation speed;
Hide Thee not at my sighing, at my cry.
 
O moon of Tebeth! exceeding is my sum
  Of pain therein, when His face changed for me.        30
  Yet, though I sinned, His goodness I shall see,
Who saith: “Ye waves, but so far shall ye come.”
 
 
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