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.
 
A Song of Life
By Abraham Ibn Ezra (Trans. E. N. A.)
 
FOR God, the living Lord, my soul’s athirst
My heart and soul in joyous praise outburst.
 
A living God—He gives
    To me creation’s call,
    But warneth mortals all;        5
    No man sees God and lives.
 
Behold His wisdom’s might,
    Creating all in light,
    All to Him is clear and bright
    Howso hid from mortal sight.        10
 
Regal in His glory
    In all mouths its story,
    Blessed! in whose hand
    Our souls sustained stand.
 
Abraham’s sons He set apart,        15
    His laws to them He did impart;
    Wise laws which to the World they give,
    For mortals to obey and live.
 
Man cannot do the right:
    Dust is he to Godlike sight:        20
    For who in Heaven’s eye
    His way can justify?
 
Base the longing of our heart,
    Envenom’d as the scorpion’s dart.
    How can our flesh in life abide        25
    When sin has seared and mortified?
 
Needs must we sinners then
    Repeat our evil courses…. When?
    Before we reach the end, the goal,
    Of all that boasts a living soul.        30
 
Enthralled by Thy love,
    We hail Thee, God above!
    That from Thine open hand
    Feedest our living band.
 
Sleeping children, Lord! awake:        35
    Pity for their fathers’ sake:
    The promised days to hasten deign
    When Jesse’s son once more will reign.
 
Regard the mother’s truth when tested.
    How shrill the handmaid 1 hath protested:        40
    “The dead religion—it is thine,
    The living one is mine, is mine.”
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
Awestruck I bow the head,
    In prayer my hands I spread,
    God’s due from man my lips confess,        45
    Each soul of life his God must bless.
 
Note 1. Hagar to Sarah, i. e., Mahomet to Israel. [back]
 
 
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