The letters of the Jews as strict as flames
Or little terrible flowers lean
Stubbornly upwards through the perfect ages,
Singing through solid stone the sacred names.
The letters of the Jews are black and clean
And lie in chain-line over Christian pages.
The chosen letters bristle like barbed wire
That hedge the flesh of man,
Twisting and tightening the book that warns.
These words, this burning bush, this flickering pyre
Unsacrifices the bled son of man
Yet plaits his crown of thorns.
Where go the tipsy idols of the Roman
Past synagogues of patient time,
Where go the sisters of the Gothic rose,
Where go the blue eyes of the Polish women
Past the almost natural crime,
Past the still speaking embers of ghettos,
There rise the tinder flowers of the Jews.
The letters of the Jews are dancing knives
That carve the heart of darkness seven ways.
These are the letters that all men refuse
And will refuse until the king arrives
And will refuse until the death of time
And all is rolled back in the book of days.
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Comments about this poem (The Alphabet by Karl Shapiro )
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
Alfred Lord Tennyson
(6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(31 March 1934 – 31 May 2009)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(10 February 1898 – 14 August 1956)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Warning, Jenny Joseph
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- All Things will Die, Alfred Lord Tennyson
- 'Hope' is the thing with feathers, Emily Dickinson
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