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I recognised the nameless agony,

The terror and the tremor and the pain,

That oft before had filled or haunted me,

And now returned with threefold strength again.

The door I opened to my heavenly guest,

And listened, for I thought I heard God's voice;

And, knowing whatsoe'er He sent was best,

Dared neither to lament nor to rejoice.

Then with a smile, that filled the house with light, "My errand is not Death, but Life," he said;

And ere I answered, passing out of sight,
On his celestial embassy he sped.

'Twas at thy door, O friend! and not at mine, The angel with the amaranthine wreath,

Pausing, descended, and with voice divine,

Whispered a word that had a sound like Death.

Then fell upon the house a sudden gloom,

A shadow on those features fair and thin; And softly, from that hushed and darkened room, Two angels issued, where but one went in.

All is of God! If He but wave his hand,

The mists collect, the rain falls thick and loud,

Till, with a smile of light on sea and land,

Lo! He looks back from the departing cloud.

Angels of Life and Death alike are his;

Without his leave they pass no threshold o'er;

Who, then, would wish or dare, believing this,

Against his messengers to shut the door?


IN broad daylight, and at noon,

Yesterday I saw the moon

Sailing high, but faint and white,
As a schoolboy's paper kite.

In broad daylight, yesterday,
I read a Poet's mystic lay;
And it seemed to me at most
As a phantom, or a ghost.

But at length the feverish day
Like a passion died away,

And the night, serene and still,

Fell on village, vale, and hill.

Then the moon in all her pride,

Like a spirit glorified,

Filled and overflowed the night

With revelations of her light.

And the Poet's song again

Passed like music through my brain;

Night interpreted to me

All its grace and mystery.


How strange it seems!

These Hebrews in their graves,

Close by the street of this fair seaport town,

Silent beside the never-silent waves,

At rest in all this moving up and down!

The trees are white with dust, that o'er their sleep

Wave their broad curtains in the south wind's breath,

While underneath such leafy tents they keep

The long, mysterious Exodus of Death.

And these sepulchral stones, so old and brown,
pave with level flags their burial-place,
Seem like the tablets of the Law, thrown down
And broken by Moses at the mountain's base.

The very names recorded here are strange,

Of foreign accent, and of different climes;

Alvares and Rivera interchange

With Abraham and Jacob of old times.

"Blessed be God! for He created Death!"

The mourners said, "and Death is rest and peace;"

Then added, in the certainty of faith,

"And giveth life that never more shall cease."

Closed are the portals of their Synagogue,

No Psalms of David now the silence break,

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 remembrance green.

How came they here? What burst of Christian 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 obscure,
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

That rang from town to town, from street to street; At every gate the accursed Mordecai

Was mocked and jeered, and spurned by Christian feet.

Pride and humiliation hand in hand

Walked with them through the world where'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.

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