Our Own

Jews of the great Republic,
Clasped to her mother-breast,
Nestling so warm and peaceful
Within that bosom blest,
Turn to our tortured Europe,
Hark to the myriad moan
Of pinched lips, white with hunger,
That stiffen as they groan,
And remember in these wan creatures runs the blood that is your own.

Their sires and yours together
Bore Spain's or Poland's scorn;
With quenchless faith in marshfires
They followed after morn.
They built their house on quicksand,
Or the red volcano's cone,
And every age beheld it
Engulfed or overthrown,
For never in all the ages did a home remain their own.

By devastated dwellings,
By desecrated fanes,
By hearth-stones, cold and crimsoned,
And slaughter-reeking lanes,
Again is the Hebrew quarter
Through half of Europe known;
And crouching in the shambles,
Rachel, the ancient crone,
Weeps again for her children and the fate that is their own.

No laughter rings in these ruins
Save of girls to madness shamed,
Their mothers disemboweled
Lie stark 'mid children maimed.
The Shool has a great congregation
But never a Psalm they drone,
Shrouded in red-striped Tallisim,
Levi huddles with Kohn;
But the blood from their bodies oozing is the blood that is your own.

Shot some six to a bullet,
Lashed and trailed in the dust,
Mutilated with hatchets
In superbestial lust—
No monster can ever be doing
What Christians do or condone—
Surely these bear our burden
And for our sins atone,
And if we hide our faces, then the guilt is as our own.

Laden with babes and bundles,
Footsore on every road,
Their weary remnants wander,
With bayonets for goad.
They cry: Shema Yisroel
In tragic monotone,
And if ye, Israel, hear not,
By whom shall ruth be shown?
For the strength, whereby God saves us is the strength that is our own.

Alas! for the wizened infants,
Sucking at stone-dry breasts,
Alas! for the babies writhing
In the grip of plagues and pests.
They are fever-stricken and famished,
They are rotten of skin and bone,
Yet their mothers must die and leave them
To suffer and starve alone.
And any one of these children might be your very own.

Barefoot, ragged and staring
Like walkers in their sleep,
Feeding on bark or sawdust,
The doomed processions creep;
Crawling through marsh or snowdrift
Or forest overgrown,
They bear on high their Torah
Like a flag to heaven flown;
They prove how great their spirit, let us prove how great our own.

At last but a naked rabble,
Clawing the dust for bread,
Jabbering, wailing, whining,
Hordes of the living dead,
Half apes, half ghosts, they grovel,
Nor human is their tone,
Yet they are not brutes but brethren,
These wrecks of the hunger-zone,
And their death-cry rings to heaven in the tongue that is your own.

Jews of the great Republic,
Who gave your sons to death,
That Peace be born in Europe
And Justice draw new breath,
Will ye still endure to witness
As of yore your kindred thrown
To races whose souls are savage,
To tribes whose hearts are stone,
Compared with the love and mercy that for ages have warmed our own?

Set your lips to the Shofar,
Waken a fiery blast,
Shrill to the heathen nations—
This slaughter shall be the last!
And send our old Peace-greeting
Pealing from cot to throne,
Till mankind heeds the message
On the Hebrew trumpet blown,
And the faith of the whole world's peoples is the faith that is our own.
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