Menken, Adah Isaacs
HEAR, O ISRAEL!
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God."--
HEAR, O Israel! and plead my cause against the
'Midst the terrible conflict of Love and Peace, I
departed from thee, my people, and spread my tent of many
colors in the land of Egypt.
In their crimson and fine linen I girded my white form.
Sapphires gleamed their purple light from out the
darkness of my hair.
The silver folds of their temple foot-cloth was spread
beneath my sandaled feet.
Thus I slumbered through the daylight.
Slumbered 'midst the vapor of sin,
Slumbered 'midst the battle and din,
Wakened 'midst the strangle of breath,
Wakened 'midst the struggle of death!
Hear, O Israel! My people--to thy goodly tents do I
return with unstained hands.
83Like as the harts for the water-brooks, in thirst, do pant
and bray, so pants and cries my longing soul for the house
My tears have unto me been meat, both in night and
And the crimson and fine linen moulders in the dark
tents of the enemy.
With bare feet and covered head do I return to thee, O
With sackcloth have I bound the hem of my garments.
With olive leaves have I trimmed the border of my
The breaking waves did pass o'er me; yea, were mighty
in their strength--
Strength of the foe's oppression.
My soul was cast out upon the waters of Sin: but it has
come back to me.
My transgressions have vanished like a cloud.
The curse of Balaam hath turned to a blessing;
And the doors of Jacob turn not on their hinges against
Rise up, O Israel! For it is I who passed through the
Fiery furnace seven times, and come forth unscathed, to
redeem thee from slavery, O my nation I and lead thee back
Brothers mine, filing out your white banners over this
Red Sea of wrath!
Hear ye not the Death-cry of a thousand burning,
84Against the enemy lift thy sword of fire, even thou, O
Israel! Whose prophet I am.
For I, of all thy race, with these tear-blinded eyes, still
see the watch-fire leaping up its blood-red flame from the
ramparts of our Jerusalem!
And my heart alone beats and palpitates, rises and falls
with the glimmering and the gleaming of the golden beacon
flame, by whose light I shall lead thee, O my people!
back to freedom!
Give me time--oh give me time to strike from your
brows the shadow crowns of Wrong!
On the anvil of my heart will I rend the chains that
Look upon me--oh look upon me, as I turn from the
world--from love, and passion, to lead thee, thou Chosen
of God, back to the pastures of Right and Life!
Fear me not; for the best blood that heaves this heart
now runs for thee, thou Lonely Nation!
Why wear ye not the crown of eternal royalty, that God
set down upon you heads?
Back, tyrants of the red hands!
Slouch back to your ungodly tents, and hide the
cainbrand on your foreheads!
Life for life, blood for blood, is the lesson ye teach
We, the Children of Israel, will not creep to the kennel
graves ye are scooping out with iron hands, like scourged
Israel! Rouse ye from the slumber of ages, and, though
Hell welters at your feet, carve a road through these
85The promised dawn-light is here; and God--O the God
of our nation is calling!
Press on--press on!
Ye, who are kings, princes, priests, and prophets. Ye
men of Judah and bards of Jerusalem, hearken unto my
voice, and I will speak thy name, O Israel!
Fear not; for God hath at last let loose his thinkers,
and their voices now tremble in the mighty depths of this
Rise up from thy blood-stained pillows!
Cast down to dust the hideous, galling chains that bind
thy strong hearts down to silence!
Wear ye the badge of slaves?
See ye not the watch-fire?
Look aloft, from thy wilderness of thought!
Come forth with the signs and wonders, and thy strong
hands, and stretched-out arms, even as thou didst from
Courage, courage! Trampled hearts!
Look at these pale hands and frail arms, that have rent
asunder the welded chains that an army of the Philistines
bound about me!
But the God of all Israel set His seal of fire on my
breast, and lighted up, with inspiration, the soul that pants
for the Freedom of a nation!
With eager wings she fluttered above the blood-stained!
bayonet-points of the millions, who are trampling upon
the strong throats of God's people.
Rise up, brave hearts!
86The sentry cries: "All's well!" from Hope's tower!
Fling out your banners of Right!
The watch fire grows brighter!
All's well! All's well!
The Lord of Hosts is in the field,
The God of Jacob is our shield!