How strange, or so it seems! These Hebrews and their shallow graves,
Nearby the wide avenue of this handsome Mid-Atlantic town:
Quiet, beside the roaring waves,
At peace amid all this moving, upwards and then down!
The trees are pale with flowers, that over and in their sleep
Wave their thick curtains in the East-wind's mighty breath,
While beneath these vine-sown tents they struggle to keep
The long-awaited, unknown Exodus of Death.
And these graveyard stones, so old and brown,
Which pave with level banners their solemn burial-place,
Seem like the Tablets of the Ten Commandments, thrown down
And broken by Moses before the desert-mountain's base.
The very names etched and graven here seem strange,
Of ancient rhetoric and of foreign tongue, and of different cultures across the wide Globe's climes;
The common names of the Anglo-Saxon and the Hispanic interchange
With Abraham and Joshua of olden times.
"Blessed is God! for he made Death!"
The mourners cried, "and Death is rest and Peace;"
Then added, in the conviction of their Faith,
"And gives the Life that never again will cease."
No Psalms of David, now, the cold white silence break;
No Rabbi reads in the ancient Dialect,
In the grand language that the Prophets spoke.
Gone are the living, but the dead remain,
And not neglected; for a hand unseen,
Scattering it's ready bounty, as would a warm, Late-Summer's rain,
Still keeps their graves and their old remembrance green.
How did they arrive on these Western shores, just as old? What gust of Fascist hate,
What oppressive wind of Persecution, merciless and blind,
Drove them over the sea: that desert and desolate lake...
These Ishmaels and Hagars of Mankind?
They lived in narrow streets and alleyways obscure,
Through Ghetto and Holocaust, in muck and violent mire;
Taught in the school of Patience to pursue and endure
The Life of anguish, and the Death of fire.
Pride and humiliation, hand in tight-clasped hand,
Walked with them, through the Lands wherever they went;
Trampled and beaten, they were treated as the sand,
And yet, unaffected as the very Continent.
For in the background, silhouettes cloudy 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 so, forever with a backwards look,
The Mystical Volume of History they read,
Spelling it reverted, like a Hebrew book,
Until this life became a Legend of the Dead.
But, ah! what once has been will be no more!
The grumbling Earth, in fever and in pain,
Brings forth its Manly Races, but does not restore,
And those fallen Empires never rise again.