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No Rabbi reads the ancient Decalogue
In the grand dialect the Prophets spake.
Gone are the living, but the dead remain,
And not neglected; for a hand unseen, Scattering its bounty, like a summer rain,
Still keeps their graves and their remem
How came they here? What burst of Chris
tian hate, What persecution, merciless and blind, Drove o’er the sea - that desert desolate
These Ishmaels and Hagars of mankind?
They lived in narrow streets and lanes ob
scure, Ghetto and Judenstrass, in mirk and mire; Taught in the school of patience to endure
The life of anguish and the death of fire.
All their lives long, with the unleavened bread
And bitter herbs of exile and its fears, The wasting famine of the heart they fed,
And slaked its thirst with marah of their tears.
Anathema maranatha! was the cry
street; At every gate the accursed Mordecai Was mocked and jeered, and spurned by
Pride and humiliation hand in hand
Walked with them through the world wher
e'er they went; Trampled and beaten were they as the sand,
And yet unshaken as the continent.
For in the background figures vague and vast
Of patriarchs and of prophets rose sublime,
And all the great traditions of the Past
They saw reflected in the coming time.
And thus for ever with reverted look
The mystic volume of the world they read, Spelling it backward, like a Hebrew book,
Till life became a Legend of the Dead.
But ah! what once has been shall be no more!
The groaning earth in travail and in pain Brings forth its races, but does not restore,
And the dead nations never rise again.
In the Valley of the Vire
Still is seen an ancient mill, With its gables quaint and queer,
And beneath the window-sill,
Far above it, on the steep,
Ruined stands the old Château; Nothing but the donjon-keep
Left for shelter or for show.
Its vacant eyes
Stare at the skies,
Stare at the valley green and deep.
Once a convent, old and brown,
Looked, but ah! it looks no more, From the neighboring hillside down On the rushing and the roar
Of the stream
Whose sunny gleam
Cheers the little Norman town.
In that darksome mill of stone,
To the water's dash and din,
Careless, humble, and unknown,
Songs that fill
With a splendor of its own.