Monday, December 3, 2007

"The glorious Maccabean rage" of Emma Lazarus


In honor of up upcoming festival of Hanuka, here are two Hanuka poems from Emma Lazarus (1849-1887). As many of you already know, she is the poet who wrote the words that appear on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

She was a Sephardic Jew (yeah!).

Lazarus One of the first successful Jewish American authors, Lazarus was part of the late nineteenth century New York literary elite, and was celebrated in her day as an important American poet. A Sephardic Jew, in her later years, she wrote bold, powerful poetry and essays protesting the rise of anti-Semitism. During her lifetime she called on Jews to unite and create a homeland in Palestine.

It is my profound hope that we may again capture the strong sense of Zionism shown by Lazarus in order to reclaim every inch of Greater Israel.

Hanuka Poem by Emma Lazarus

Wake, Israel, wake! Recall today
The glorious Maccabean rage,
The sire heroic, hoary-gray,
His five-fold lion-lineage;

The Wise, the Elect, the Help-of-God,
The Burst-of-Spring, the Avenging Rod.

From Mizpeh's mountain ridge they saw
Jerusalem's empty streets; her shrine
Laid waste where Greeks profaned the Law
With idol and with pagan sign.
Mourners in tattered black were there
With ashes sprinkled on their hair.

Then from the stony peak there rang
A blast to ope the graves; down poured
The Maccabean clan, who sang
Their battle anthem to the Lord.
Five heroes lead, and following, see
Ten thousand rush to victory!

Oh for Jerusalem's trumpet now,
To blow a blast of shattering power,
To wake the sleeper high and low,
And rouse them to the urgent hour!
No hand for vengeance, but to save,
A million naked swords should wave.

Oh, deem not dead that martial fire,
Say not the mystic flame is spent!
With Moses' law and David's lyre,
Your ancient strength remains unbent.
Let but an Ezra rise anew,
To lift the BANNER OF THE JEW!

"Hanuckah" (the Feast of Lights)

"Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on Evening's forehead o'er the earth,
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eight-fold splendor shine above thy hearth.
Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,
Blow the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn;
Chant psalms of victory till the heart take fire,
The Maccabean spirit leap new-born."

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