Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
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Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
 
Thou Art a Jew
By I. N. L.
 
THOU art a Jew, and all is said
  That need be said, fore’er to bar the way,
  To where doth linger the exclusive ray
Of social sunshine; here the dead
And foolish issues of the past        5
  Are born again, and bigotry appears
  And dares to sit in judgment on his peers,
A race immortal, ancient, vast.
 
Thou art a Jew, and by that name
  Alone, thou’rt judged; thy virtues play no part;        10
  Thy graces, strength of mind, or depth of heart,
All lost in the consuming flame
Of ignorance. Through eyes of love
  They look not at thee, fearing they may find
  Some merit, toward which they were ever blind;        15
Some soul, some grandeur from above.
 
Though here and there, a hollow tree
  Doth stand among the mighty tow’ring pines,
  Still is the forest beautiful. And mines
Of dazzling riches we could see        20
If we but delved beneath the clay.
  Below the surface we must seek to find
  True worth, true greatness, and the master mind;
Beyond the darkness, lingers day.
 
The social barrier that stands        25
  Grim sentinel between the faiths to-day,
  Is prejudice; it knoweth but the way
Its father, ignorance, demands
To judge the many by the few.
  Amid the weeds the dainty wild flower grows,        30
  Great good ’mid evil often may repose;
But as for thee, thou art a Jew.
 
Thou art a Jew; then let thy ways
  Not dim the lustre of thy fathers’ creed.
  Let honor be thy star; thy every deed        35
Reflect its brightness on thy days.
Be faithful, patient, noble, true;
  Kindness and justice in thy heart abide;
  Live thus and thou wilt feel a worthy pride
When it is said, thou art a Jew.        40
 
 
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