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.
 
Out of the Depths
By Joseph Jasin
 
OUT of the depths of despair
  There cometh a plaint and a prayer;
Give ear to this cry, O my brothers,
  From lips that have pleaded for others!
 
“Must I die in the land of the living        5
  A terrible two-fold death,
Or come ye with mercy, life-giving,
  Ere the angel shall stifle my breath?
 
“I found a world of oppression,
  Of merciless hatred and greed;        10
God’s wrath—I gave it expression,
  And the world it could not but heed.
 
“I heard how my people were groaning
  ’Neath tyranny’s pitiless yoke,
And I uttered their muffled moaning        15
  Till men turned pale as I spoke.
 
“And all the reward that I sought for
  Was to share in the ending of wrong;
But I fell in the cause that I fought for,
  Too weak for even a song.        20
 
“I am still in the land of the living
  Where greed and oppression abound;
Yet spite of my saddest misgiving,
  My voice can not utter a sound.
 
“Will you praise me and call me a prophet        25
  When my bones lie under the sod?—
If I heed it at all, I shall scoff it
  And call you to ’count before God.
 
“A crust of bread for each flower
  You are saving to lay on my tomb,        30
Mayhap would yield me the power
  The song of my youth to resume.
 
“’Tis no marble pillar I task for
  But for Truth and Right alone;
Then stint not the pity I ask for,        35
  To pay me for bread, with a stone.”
 
Out of the depths of despair
O hearken a plaint and a prayer!
O brothers, make haste to attend it
Ere comes the grim Reaper to end it.        40
 
That ancient and often-told story
Of a prophet despoiled of his glory,
Till, deaf to the praise of vain mortals,
He enters eternity’s portals.
 
 
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