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.
 
On!
By George Benedict
 
WHEN Israel marched from Egypt land,
  And broke her yoke of slavery,
And standing by the Red Sea strand,
  Drank her first draught of Liberty,
And torrid Afric’s horrid hordes came on with new-linked chains, once more        5
            Her limbs to bind;
And trembling Israel cried to Heaven when she beheld the sea before,
            The foe behind;
  Then burst a voice from high;
  Why do the children cry—        10
  Why do the children cry to me?
  Why do they not go on?
 
And Israel found her promised home—
  And lost it; and her Destiny
Has forced her, ever since, to roam        15
  In search of it o’er land and sea.
And blood-soaked foot-prints mark her path, through briers, and beasts, and storms, and stress,
            —Her life one dirge;
Yet some of Israel’s sons, from out the black mediæval wilderness,
            Did at last emerge.        20
  And now, from a foreign strand,
  We long for our native land;
  And again the command in our ears, as we stand:
  Why do they not go on!
 
Yes! We are through—we favored few;        25
  And some of us would rest content,
If only our poor brother Jew
  Would not scream so when being rent.
We’re tired of wandering through the world, but, brothers, we can have no rest
            Here on the strand;        30
Behind come foes more cruel far than the seas of hardship we must breast
            For our Fatherland.
—Now, brothers, which is it to be:
The foe, or the God-governed sea?
Come, make your choice with me, for the sea!        35
And let us on, on, on!
 
 
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