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.
 
Moses
By John Stuart Blackie
 
I WILL sing high-hearted Moses
  By the Nile’s sweet-watered stream,
In the land of strange taskmasters,
  Brooding o’er the patriot theme.
 
Brooding o’er the bright green valleys        5
  Of his dear-loved Hebrew home,
Whence the eager pinch of Famine
  Forced the Patriarch to roam.
 
Brooding o’er his people’s burdens,
  Lifting vengeful arm to smite,        10
When he saw the harsh Egyptian
  Stint the Hebrew of his right.
 
Brooding far in lonely places,
  Where on holy ground unshod,
He beheld the bush that burned        15
  With consuming flame from God.
 
Saw, and heard, and owned the mission
  With his outstretched prophet-rod,
To stir plagues upon the Pharoah,
  Scorner of the most high God.        20
 
God, who brought His folk triumphant
  From the strange taskmaster free,
And merged the Memphians, horse and rider,
  In the deep throat of the sea.
 
Then uprose the song of triumph,        25
  Harp and timbrel, song and dance,
And with firm set will the hero
  Led the perilous advance.
 
And he led them through the desert
  As a shepherd leads his flock,        30
Breaking spears with cursed Amalek,
  Striking water from the rock.
 
And he led them to Mount Sinai’s
  High-embattled rock; and there,
’Mid thick clouds of smoke and thunder,        35
  Like trumpet clave the air.
 
To the topmost peak he mounted,
  And with reverent awe unshod,
As a man with men discourseth,
  So he there communed with God.        40
 
Not in wild ecstatic plunges,
  Not in visions of the night,
Not in flashes of quick fancy,
  Darkness sown with gleams of light.
 
But in calm untroubled survey,        45
  As a builder knows his plan,
Face to face he knew Jehovah
  And His wondrous ways with man.
 
Ways of gentleness and mercy,
  Ways of vengeance strong to smite,        50
Ways of large unchartered giving,
  Ever tending to the right.
 
In the presence of the Glory
  What no mortal sees he saw,
And from hand that no man touches        55
  Brings the tables of the Law.
 
Law that bound them with observance
  Lest untutored wit might stray,
Each man where his private fancy
  Led him in a wanton way.        60
 
Law that from the life redeemed them
  Of loose Arabs wandering wild,
And to fruitful acres brought them
  Where ancestral virtue toiled.
 
Law that dowered the chosen people        65
  With a creed divinely true,
Which the subtle Greek and lordly Roman
  Stooped to borrow from the Jew.
 
 
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