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.
 
Mayer Sulzberger
By Felix N. Gerson
 
THE MUSE, that first lent grace to gratitude,
  Voicing a rhythmic prayer from thankful hearts,
Long since, when passion lisped in accents crude,
  Nor knew its handmaid in this art of arts—
Has sounded many a measure through the days,        5
In stately epic and in roundelays.
 
The sack of cities, the brave deeds of men,
  The doom of Gods, the majesty of Kings;
Strange mysteries beyond our earthly ken,
  And gentle fancy’s sweet imaginings—        10
These have the poets woven into rhyme,
To make the past throb in the present time.
 
But I will weave the laurel of my rhyme
  To crown the living with an honor due;
That one, who fearless in the trembling time        15
  Stands forth his people’s bulwark, strong and true,
May know the muse that graced the ancient days
Has not forgotten how to laud and praise.
 
If we have grown into such gracious worth,
  And are assembled in this galaxy        20
To laud the work to which these years gave birth,
  Is it not fitting that our thoughts shall be
Fashioned to form, a grateful aureole
For him whose labor led us to this goal?
 
Let mine the pride and pleasure be to-night        25
  To sing his worth, who is our guide and friend;
Who lifts a beacon by whose far-flung light
  We seem to see the lingering anguish end,
Scholar and jurist, need I speak the name
That sheds on all of us its lustrous fame?        30
 
How shall I praise him fitly, or begin?—
  Lauding endowments of th’ absorbing mind,
Where all things ever known seem gathered in
  To grow into rich blessings for mankind,
We but the medal’s silver side behold—        35
Though fair its sheen, the other side is gold.
 
For wedded to this rare mentality,
  There beats within his breast a Jewish heart,
That pleads and throbs in ceaseless sympathy
  To right the wrong ’neath which his brethren smart,        40
The nameless wrong, to which he gave a name—
To prove a Russian envoy’s lasting shame.
 
Small need, in truth, to bring in proud array
  The gracious giving of his bounteous thought.
Wherever Jewish learning lights our way,        45
  His hand has labored and his genius wrought.
A man of men! ’Twill be our boast we knew
And held in love, our country’s foremost Jew!
 
 
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