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 Everlasting Jew
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
 
(From “Hellas”)

THE JEW of whom I spake is old, so old
He seems to have outlived a world’s decay;
The hoary mountains and the wrinkled ocean
Seem younger still than he; his hair and beard
Are whiter than the tempest-sifted snow;        5
His cold pale limbs and pulseless arteries
Are like the fibres of a cloud instinct
With light, and to the soul that quickens them
Are as the atoms of the mountain-drift
To the winter wind; but from his eye looks forth        10
A life of unconsumed thought which pierces
The present, and the past, and the to-come.
*    *    *    *    *
      Thou art an adept in the difficult lore
Of Greek and Frank philosophy; thou numberest
The flowers, and thou measurest the stars;        15
Thou severest element from element;
Thy spirit is present in the past, and sees
The birth of this old world through all its cycles
Of desolation and loveliness,
And when man was not, and how man became        20
The monarch and the slave of this low sphere,
And all its narrow circles—it is much.
I honor thee, and would be what thou art
Were I not what I am; but the unborn hour,
Cradled in fear and hope, conflicting storms,        25
Who shall unveil? Nor thou, nor I, nor any
Mighty or wise. I apprehended not
What thou hast taught me, but I now perceive
That thou art no interpreter of dreams;
Thou dost not own that art, device, or God,        30
Can make the future present—let it come!
Moreover thou disdainest us and ours!
Thou art as God, whom thou contemplatest.
 
 
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