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 Passage of the Red Sea
By Reginald Heber
 
’MID the light spray their snorting camels stood,
Nor bathed a fetlock in the nauseous flood—
He comes—their leader comes!—the man of God
O’er the wide waters lifts His mighty rod.
And onward treads—the circling waves retreat        5
In hoarse deep murmurs, from his holy feet;
And the chased surges, inly roaring, show
The hard wet sand and coral hills below.
With limbs that falter, and with hearts that swell,
Down, down they pass—a steep and slippery dell.        10
Around them rise, in pristine chaos hurled,
The ancient rocks, the secrets of the world;
The flowers that blush beneath the ocean green,
And caves, the sea-calves’ low-roofed haunt, are seen.
Down, safely down the narrow pass they tread;        15
The beetling waters storm above their head:
While far behind retires the sinking day,
And fades on Edom’s hills its latest ray.
Yet not from Israel fled the friendly light,
Or dark to them or cheerless came the night,        20
Still in their van, along the dreadful road,
Blazed broad and fierce the brandished torch of God.
Its meteor glare a tenfold lustre gave
On the long mirror of the rosy wave:
While its blest beams a sunlike heat supply,        25
Warm every cheek, and dance in every eye—
To them alone—for Mizraim’s wizard train
Invoke for light their monster gods in vain;
Clouds heaped on clouds their struggling sight confine,
And tenfold darkness broods above their line.        30
Yet on they fare, by reckless vengeance led,
And range unconscious through the ocean’s bed.
Till midway now—that strange and fiery form
Showed his dread visage lightning through the storm;
With withering splendor blasted all their might,        35
And brake their chariot wheels and marred their courser’s flight.
“Fly, Mizraim, fly!”—From Edom’s coral strand
Again the prophet stretched his dreadful wand:—
With one wild crash the thundering waters sweep,
And all is waves—a dark and lonely deep.        40
 
 
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