Page 30 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
22
Good luck to the lads—for their time has come.
See them silent and ready—and their eyes are burning.
See, evening falls,
there is wind in the tree-tops, the pine is trembling.
Tonight will see battle. And they are very few.
Bless them, my God, for the time has come.
Stars have been kindled,
and on the other side many camps are gathering.
For who will see light of day? And who will fall
and die?
Will victory be gained, or ruin and the grave?
Bless them, my God, bless those who go to battle.
Bless their arms that they fail n o t . . . bless their home.
Bless this people, its youths and its warriors,
till battle is done.
Or these selections from O. Hillel’s lines “To the Soul of
a Friend” :
For you have returned to your Mother,
to this Earth you loved . . .
You have returned to your Mother,
become part of the everlasting cycle of flowering and
fruitage.
But you will not be with us.
Not be around at our parties,
not have fun, not laugh, and not smoke your pipe . . .
We did not weep for you.
but our souls were weeping,
our souls are not soldiers, they weep when their
brother dies.
You will forgive them.
Since your soul wept for you, she knew you better
than we all did, for you were hers.
Ah, our souls are not soldiers, they are not skillful
in war:
they weep in their woe,
they are little girls.
Out of this primary experience of death sometimes came a
nihilism, or a sense of guilt, or what Professor Halkin has char-
acterized well as “an uncomprehending fear of life,” reflected
in these lines from a “Poem to a Girl’s Eyes,” also by Hillel:
I have seen nought more sweet than beauty except in the
grief which is the destruction of thoughts by the power
of the vision of beauty! . . .