A Letter To His Friend Isaac. (Translations From The Hebrew Poets Of Medaeval Spain.)

A poem by Emma Lazarus

But yesterday the earth drank like a child
With eager thirst the autumn rain.
Or like a wistful bride who waits the hour
Of love's mysterious bliss and pain.
And now the Spring is here with yearning eyes;
Midst shimmering golden flower-beds,
On meadows carpeted with varied hues,
In richest raiment clad, she treads.
She weaves a tapestry of bloom o'er all,
And myriad eyed young plants upspring,
White, green, or red like lips that to the mouth
Of the beloved one sweetly cling.
Whence come these radiant tints, these blended beams?
Here's such a dazzle, such a blaze,
As though each stole the splendor of the stars,
Fain to eclipse them with her rays.
Come! go we to the garden with our wine,
Which scatters sparks of hot desire,
Within our hand 't is cold, but in our veins
It flashes clear, it glows like fire.
It bubbles sunnily in earthen jugs.
We catch it in the crystal glass,
Then wander through cool, shadowy lanes and breathe
The spicy freshness of the grass.
Whilst we with happy hearts our circuit keep,
The gladness of the Earth is shown.
She smileth, though the trickling raindrops weep
Silently o'er her, one by one.
She loves to feel the tears upon her cheek,
Like a rich veil, with pearls inwove.
Joyous she listens when the swallows chirp,
And warbles to her mate, the dove.
Blithe as a maiden midst the young green leaves,
A wreath she'll wind, a fragrant treasure;
All living things in graceful motion leap,
As dancing to some merry measure.
The morning breezes rustle cordially,
Love's thirst is sated with the balm they send.
Sweet breathes the myrtle in the frolic wind,
As though remembering a distant friend.
The myrtle branch now proudly lifted high,
Now whispering to itself drops low again.
The topmost palm-leaves rapturously stir,
For all at once they hear the birds' soft strain.
So stirs, so yearns all nature, gayly decked,
To honor ISAAC with her best array.
Hear'st thou the word? She cries - I beam with joy,
Because with Isaac I am wed to-day.

Abul Hassan Judah Ben Ha-Levi. (Born Between 1080-90.)

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