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.
 
Isaac M. Wise
By Walter Hurt
 
HE came into the Camp of Creed,
  The Sword of Strength within his hand,
To scatter forth the bigot breed
  And smite them from the Promised Land;
To hew each hoary falsehood down        5
  And humble ancient arrogance,
And Error fled before his frown
  While Truth was glad beneath his glance.
 
He labored where his Duty led—
  Unflinching stood in ev’ry storm        10
That beat about his fearless head,
  And thundered forth the word “Reform!”
Earth’s farthest nations heard his voice
  Unto the utmost purple seas,
And all found reason to rejoice        15
  From Polar lands to Pyrenees.
 
From depths of long, nigrescent nights
  We grasp the gospel that he gave,
A message come from starry heights,
  Sent forth to succor and to save.        20
If Jew or Gentile matters not,
  For rights and righteousness of each,
Alike was wrought his toiling thought,
  And flamed the splendor of his speech.
 
Our reaching reason gropes along        25
  His lofty path toward the light,
Consoled and strengthened by the song
  His spirit sends us from his flight.
We pray our searching souls may find
  The higher things for which he stood—        30
He fought for freedom of the mind
  And for a broader brotherhood.
 
A modern Moses sent to lead
  His people up to lustrous lands,
To free them from the chains of creed        35
  And superstition’s cruel bands;
To guide uncertain feet from out
  The darkened paths in which they stray,
Amid the desert sands of doubt
  Unto the everlasting day.        40
 
He told not of God’s wrath, but taught
  The lesson of His love instead,
Till narrow tenets came to naught
  And fierce fanaticism fled.
Who knew his mental majesty,        45
  Or felt his nature’s gentle grace,
From pious prejudice was free
  Nor nursed a senseless hate of race.
 
Yes, he was great as men are great
  Who scorn the cramping lines of creed,        50
Who leave us still our earth’s estate
  Yet fill our nature’s inmost need.
And so with each recurring Spring,
  While roses blow and lilies bloom,
The world will tender tribute bring        55
  To lay upon his hallowed tomb.
 
 
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