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    A MEMORY   Table of Contents     HEAR, O ISRAEL!

Menken, Adah Isaacs




O CROWNLESS soul of Ishmael!
Uplifting and unfolding the white tent of dreams
against the sunless base of eternity!
Looking up through thy dumb desolation for white
hands to reach out over the shadows, downward, from the
golden bastions of God's eternal Citadel!
Praying for Love to unloose the blushing bindings of
his nimble shaft and take thee up to his fullest fruition!
Poor Soul! hast thou no prophecy to gauge the distance
betwixt thee and thy crown?
Thy crown?
Alas! there is none.
Only a golden-rimmed shadow that went before thee,
marking in its tide barren shoals and dust.
At last resting its bright length down in the valley of
Foolish soul! let slip the dusty leash.
Cease listening along the borders of a wilderness for the
lost echoes of life.
Drift back through the scarlet light of Memory into the
darkness once more.
A corpse hath not power to feel the trying of its hands.


To-night, O Soul! Shut off thy little rimmings of Hope,
and let us go back to our hemlock that sprang up in the
Let us go back with bleeding feet and try to break up
the harvestless ridges where we starved.
Let us go down to the black sunset whose wings of fire
burnt out thy flowery thickets of Day, and left a Night to
swoop down the lonesome clouds to thee.
Go back to the desolate time when the dim stars looked
out from Heaven, firmly and blank, like eyes in the wide
front of some dead beast.
Go, press thy nakedness to the burnt, bare rocks, under
whose hot, bloodless ribs the River of Death runs black
with human sorrow.
To-night, O soul! Fly back through all the grave-yards
of thy Past.
Fly back to them this night with thy fretful wings, even
though their bloody breadth must wrestle long against
Hell's hollow bosom!


Jealous Soul!
The stars that are trembling forth their silent messages
to the hills have none for thee!
The mother-moon that so lovingly reacheth down her
arms of light heedeth not thy Love!
See, the pale pinions that thou hast pleaded for gather
themselves up into rings and then slant out to the dust!
The passion-flowers lift up their loving faces and open
their velvet lips to the baptism of Love, but heed not thy
warm kisses!
Shut out all this brightness that hath God's Beauty and
liveth back the silence of His Rest.
Cease knocking at the starry gate of the wondrous
realm of Song.

Hush away this pleading and this praying.
Go back to thy wail of fetter and chain!
Go back to thy night of loving in vain!


O weak Soul! Let us follow the heavy hearse that bore
our old Dream out past the white-horned Daylight of
Let thy pale Dead come up from their furrows of
winding-sheets to mock thy prayers with what thy days
might have been.
Let the Living come back and point out the shadows
they swept o'er the disk of thy morning star.
Have thou speech with them for the story of its
swimming down in tremulous nakedness to the Red Sea of
the Past.
Go back and grapple with thy lost Angels that stand in
terrible judgement against thee.
Seek thou the bloodless skeleton once hugged to thy
Hath it grown warmer under thy passionate kissings?
Or, hath it closed its seeming wings and shrunk its
white body down to a glistening coil?
Didst thou wait the growth of fangs to front the arrows
of Love's latest peril?
Didst thou not see a black, hungry vulture wheeling
down low to the white-bellied coil where thy Heaven had
once based itself?
O blind Soul of mine!


Blind, blind with tears!
Not for thee shall Love climb the Heaven of thy
columned Hopes to Eternity!
Under the silver shadow of the cloud waits no blushing
star thy tryst.
Didst thou not see the pale, widowed West loose her
warm arms and slide the cold burial earth down upon the
bare face of thy sun!
Gazing upon a shoal of ashes, thou hast lost the way
that struck upon the heavy, obstructive valves of the
grave to thy Heaven.
Mateless thou needs must vaguely feel along the dark,
cold steeps of Night.
Hath not suffering made thee wise?
When, oh when?


Go down to the black brink of Death and let its cool
waters press up to thy weary feet.
See if its trembling waves will shatter the grand
repeating of thy earth-star.
See if the eyes that said to thee their speechless Love
so close will reach thee from this sorrowful continent of
See if the red hands that seemed thy shroud will come
around thy grave.
Then, O Soul! Thou mayst drag them to the very edges
of the Death-pit, and shake off their red shadows!
Thy strong vengeance may then bind the black-winged
crew down level with their beds of fire?


But wait!
Take up the ruined cup of Life that struck like a
planet through the dark, and shone clear and full as we
starved for the feast within.
Go down to the black offings of the Noiseless Sea, and
wait, poor Soul!
Measure down the depth of thy bitterness and wait!
Bandage down with the grave-clothes the pulses of thy
dying life and wait!
Wail up thy wild, desolate echoes to the pitying arms
of God and wait!
Wait, wait!

    A MEMORY   Table of Contents     HEAR, O ISRAEL!