A Tree in the Ghetto

A poem by Morris Rosenfeld

There stands in th' leafless Ghetto
One spare-leaved, ancient tree;
Above the Ghetto noises
It moans eternally.

In wonderment it muses,
And murmurs with a sigh:
"Alas! how God-forsaken
And desolate am I!

"Alas, the stony alleys,
And noises loud and bold!
Where are ye, birds of summer?
Where are ye, woods of old?

"And where, ye breezes balmy
That wandered vagrant here?
And where, oh sweep of heavens
So deep and blue and clear?

"Where are ye, mighty giants?
Ye come not riding by
Upon your fiery horses,
A-whistling merrily.

"Of other days my dreaming,
Of other days, ah me!
When sturdy hero-races
Lived wild and glad and free!

"The old sun shone, how brightly!
The old lark sang, what song!
O'er earth Desire and Gladness
Reigned happily and long

"But see! what are these ant-hills?--
These ants that creep and crawl?...
Bereft of man and nature,
My life is stripped of all!

"And I, an ancient orphan,
What do I here alone?
My friends have all departed,
My youth and glory gone.

"Oh, tear me, root and branches!
No longer let me be
A living head-stone, brooding
O'er the grave of liberty."

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