Morris Rosenfeld

(1862-1923 / Poland)

The Jewish Soldier - Poem by Morris Rosenfeld

NOT far from Plevno, but a hundred and fifty
steps away, there is a grave, visible to none.
The place is lonely, lost and lorn ; no wreath lies
there ; there stands no marble stone ; there grows
no grass, no flower, no leaf, there rests a dead
hero, a Jewish soldier, fallen there in battle, where
Russia has proudly celebrated her greatest victory.

A deep, dead stillness reigns there round about.
Everything has fallen asleep ; all is quiet, still and
mute. As soon as the tower clock strikes at mid-
night, a strong east wind begins at once to blow
and it thunders, and it storms, and it wakes, it
clamors and it clatters, roars and calls, and from
the storm the silent earth cleaves open, and the
hero rises from his grave with his drawn sword.

He stands upon the fortress with grim courage,
and blood flows from the wound in his heart. His
pure blood flows freely, for the wound in his heart
is great, and he lifts his sharp sword and thunders :

And as his words are silenced, in anger an innu-
merable host awakens, like sand on the shore of a
quiet ocean, the whole army arises at his request.
From near and from afar comes the heavy troop :
there is a tramping, clanging, marching, whirling,
galloping, and every soldier lifts his hand and
swears : 'You died honorably for your land? '

And soon all grows quiet again ; there is no tur-
moil, no sound is heard ; the whole host of soldiers
disappears, but the Jewish soldier still stands upon
the fortress, and every word of his is a glowing
grenade : ' O Russia ! You have separated me
from my wife and child ; I died young, defending
your honor. Why do you now drive away my
wretched family? I send a heavy curse to you
through the wind ! '

And scarcely has the curse, freighted with
pain, been uttered, the storm carries him back into
the cold grave. And night after night, exactly at
the same time, the same scene is renewed. The
soldier's deep, heavy curses gather awfully, and
grow and grow, and are carried away on the wings
of the storm in wild haste to Gatchina, and are
there scattered over the palace.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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