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 Destroying Angel
By Abraham Cowley
 
HE stopped at last
And a mild look of sacred pity cast
Down on the sinful land where he was sent
To inflict the tardy punishment.
“Ah! yet,” said he, “Yet, stubborn king, repent,        5
Whilst thus armed I stand
Ere the keen sword of God fill my commanded hand.
Suffer but thyself and thine to live
Who would alas! believe
That it for man,” said he        10
“So hard to be forgiven should be,
And yet for God so easy to forgive!”
 
Through Egypt’s wicked land his march he took,
And as he marched, the sacred first-born strook
Of every womb; none did he spare,        15
None, from the meanest beast to Pharaoh’s purple heir.
Whilst health and strength and gladness doth possess
The festal Hebrew cottages;
The blest destroyer comes not there
To interrupt the sacred cheer:        20
Upon their doors he read and understood.
God’s protection writ in blood;
Well was he skilled in the character divine,
And though he passed by it in haste,
He bowed and worshipped as he passed        25
The mighty mystery through its humble sign.
 
 
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