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.
 
Heinrich Heine
By Ludwig Lewisohn
 
I
SON of a mystic race, he came
When Europe faltered at one name,
And, to his youthful eyes, the sun
Darkened before Napoleon.
France brought his freedom, but it brought        5
To Germany the years that wrought
Her shame, her bondage, her despair—
Thus in the quiet Rhineland air
A deep division drew apart
The fighter’s and the poet’s heart.        10
 
II
The poet heard the linden croon
Tragic old ditties to the moon,
And sang with clear authentic voice
The music of his country’s choice.
He knew the forest of romance,        15
The haunting wail, the elfin dance,
The wounded heart, the magic lance,
And first on German Islands he
Heard echoes of the Odyssey
Sonorous in the Northern Sea.        20
 
III
Then, as he dreamed, the loud world’s brood
Cried out, the visionary mood
Broke, and the poet in his fear
Bade poisoned arrows sing and sear.
God touched him. From his couch of pain        25
He sang, he fought, and in his strain
Thunder of olden battles stirred
By prophets in Judea heard.
God touched him, but his long repose
Is broken still by clamorous foes.        30
 
IV
Yet battle dies, and song alone
With the Eternal is at one—
Great verse that is the warder of
Justice and wisdom, truth and love,
And of that beauty in all lands,        35
Not seen of eyes, not made with hands,
Whose harmony can so control
The sanctuary of the soul,
That we must know its prophets still
The child of a diviner will.        40
 
 
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