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.
 
A Call to Israel
By Cora Wilburn
 
WHERE is the modern Judah Maccabee?
  He of the dauntless soul in warrior guise,
To lead anew the world’s hope of the free,
  While silent nations Israel’s claim denies;
Shall tortured hearts by hands tyrannic slain,        5
Throughout long years bear martyrdom in vain?
 
Where dwells that silent, kingly soul unknown?
  Predestined champion of illustrious race,—
His portion more than splendors of a throne;
  To bear aloft the Lion standard’s grace;        10
With human voice of God’s authority,
To summon all the hosts of Liberty!
 
It may be ’neath compulsion’s daily toil,
  Eating the bitter crusts of poverty;
A trembling exile, on a foreign soil,        15
  Our New Deliverer finds that destiny
Has wrought misfortune for Life’s higher aim,
And the world’s freedom in God’s holy name.
 
It may be, that by song and music lulled
  Into the selfish life’s forgetfulness,        20
The heart thornless flowers of beauty culled,
  Feels the quick throb of pitying helpfulness;
The wakened conscience, for the needs of Time,
Fashions the hero unto acts sublime.
 
In Israel’s glorious past transcendent shone        25
  The reverent daring of the Woman-soul;
Fair Esther proved her birthright to a throne;
  Great names adorn eventful centuries’ roll,
With trumpet-blast of battle;—silent deed,
Of noblest service to a world in need.        30
 
May not the wise, omnipotent decree
  Of the All-Merciful, Eternal One,
Find ’mid the multitude of brave and free,
  Some modern Judith? in ascendance won
For Freedom’s holiest cause; to light the way        35
Unto the Tyrants’ overthrow, To-day!
 
How sweet the peace of blest security!
  As ’gainst all warfare hearts humane declaim;
That is no righteous use of liberty,
  That blends with Freedom’s breath a despot’s name.        40
By force and fraud, and cruel wrong assailed,
With sheathed sword, Justice keeps her pure eyes veiled!
And Force and Fraud, hand linked with Bigotry,
Form the Chief Guards of Russia’s sovereignty.
 
Where is the modern Judah Maccabee?        45
  Welcome the Conqueror in whatever guise!
Life is but living death when liberty
  Beneath Oppression’s stifling process dies.
Rise valiant daughters of the prophet line.
Rise, Jewish warriors with the rage divine,        50
That scorns subjections! better honored graves,
Than longer be the blood-stained Tyrant’s slaves.
The world that should espouse your cause is still—
Arise! Arm! Strike! do Freedom’s holy will!
 
 
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