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
Wave their broad
curtains in the south-wind's breath,
While underneath these leafy tents they
The long, mysterious Exodus of Death.
And these sepulchral stones, so old and
That pave with level flags
Seem like the tablets of the Law, thrown down
by Moses at the mountain's base.
The very names recorded here are strange,
Of foreign accent, and of
Alvares and Rivera interchange
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
nevermore shall cease."
Closed are the portals of their
No Psalms of David now the
No Rabbi reads the ancient
In the grand dialect the
Gone are the living, but the dead remain,
And not neglected; for a hand
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
Drove o'er the sea - that desert desolate--
Ishmaels and Hagars of mankind?
They lived in narrow streets and lanes obscure,
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
And bitter herbs of exile and
The wasting famine of the heart they fed,
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
For in the background figures vague and vast
Of patriarchs and of prophets
And all the great traditions of the Past
They saw reflected in the
And thus forever with reverted look
The mystic volume of the world
Spelling it backward, like a Hebrew book,
Till life became a Legend of
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