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The Feast of Lights, a poem by Emma Lazarus (1882)

https://opensiddur.org/?p=41204 The Feast of Lights, a poem by Emma Lazarus (1882) 2021-11-30 11:44:10 "Feast of Lights," from <em>Poems of Emma Lazarus, vol. II</em> (1888), pp. 18. Text the Open Siddur Project Aharon N. Varady (transcription) Aharon N. Varady (transcription) Emma Lazarus https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Aharon N. Varady (transcription) https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ Ḥanukkah romanticism 19th century C.E. 57th century A.M. המקבים Maccabees English poetry
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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 eightfold 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.
Remember how from wintry dawn till night,
Such songs were sung in Zion, when again
On the high altar flamed the sacred light,
And, purified from every Syrian stain,
The foam-white walls with golden shields were hung,
With crowns and silken spoils, and at the shrine,
Stood, midst their conqueror-tribe, five chieftains sprung
From one heroic stock, one seed divine.
Five branches grown from Mattathias’ stem,
The Blessed John, the keen-eyed Jonathan,
Simon the fair, the burst-of-Spring, the Gem,
Eleazar, Help of God; o’er all his clan
Judas the Lion-Prince, the Avenging Rod,
Towered in warrior-beauty, uncrowned king,
Armed with the breastplate and the sword of God,
Whose praise is: “He received the perishing.”
They who had camped within the mountain-pass,
Couched on the rock, and tented ’neath the sky,
Who saw from Mizpah’s height the tangled grass
Choke the wide Temple-courts, the altar lie
Disfigured and polluted, who had flung
Their faces on the stones, and mourned aloud
And rent their garments, wailing with one tongue,
Crushed as a wind-swept bed of reeds is bowed.
Even they by one voice fired, one heart of flame,
Though broken reeds, had risen, and w’ere men,
They rushed upon the spoiler and o’ercame,
Each arm for freedom had the strength of ten.
Now is their mourning into dancing turned,
Their sackcloth doffed for garments of delight,
Week-long the festive torches shall be burned,
Music and revelry wed day writh night.
Still ours the dance, the feast, the glorious Psalm,
The mystic lights of emblem and the Word.
Where is our Judas? Where are our five-branched palm?
Where are the lion-warriors of the Lord?
Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,
Sound the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn,
Chant hymns of victory till the heart take fire,
The Maccabean spirit leap new-born!

“Feast of Lights,” from Poems of Emma Lazarus, vol. II (1888), pp. 18. According to Dan Vogel in his biography Emma Goldman (1980), the poem was first published in December 1882.

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