Page 102 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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96
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
Their envy’s fangs crooked with venom,
Whetted against all that is not part of the mob.
All this has always been hateful to me;
And should, O Queen, have provoked not love—
But rather enmity towards your crown.
I do not like your rabble’s wild shouts of laughter,
And strange to me is its unjust demand,—
A demand that needs no justification,
And that weds Right unto Iron.
My heart is not with those who drag before you
The bleeding heads of your oppressors;
My spirit does not admire the struggle of the sans-cullottes,
Whom hunger transforms into heroes and hatred makes
drunk.
They will yet behead you for your own sake.
My heart is not with those who build barricades,
Who kindle and burn things in your exalted name;
Nor with the Tribunes who compose tirades so skillfully,
That they incite a craving for blood,—and already
The mob is dressed in the hangman’s garb,
And is cutting off heads of sovereigns,
Breaking and destroying that which he, the slave,
A while ago idolized,
And bowed reverently before their crown!
Neither for this reason, O Liberty,
Is your abiding among us dear to me,
That the rabble renounces the happiness of the home,
And rears altars for the common weal.
I know, to-morrow the mob will be ready
T o sell your head unto Satan,
And to transform your heights into a valley of deathly terrors,
Your white temple into a red stable.
But for this you are dear to me, O Liberty,
Because God’s kingdom is visible through all the smokes
That rise from your bloody altars!
You are dear to me because your thunder
Brings us near to sublime heaven,
And because many a heart becomes aware
That a Changer of the times holds His vigil,
WThose changing leads God-wards the re-created man;
And that there above we are thought of,—
That the earth has not been forgotten
Like an evil and distant dream.*
*
Modern Yiddish Poetry: An Anthology.
Edited by Samuel J. Imber, N
York, 1927, pp. 340-342.