To Zion Poem by Judah Halevi

To Zion

Art thou not hungry for thy children, Zion,-
Thy sons far-scattered through an alien world?
From earth's four corners, over land and sea,
The heavy-hearted remnant of thy flock
Now send thee greeting: 'Know that as the dew
Falls daily on the ancient slopes of Hermon,
So daily on the faces of thy children
Tears of vain-longing fall.' And as for me,
When I remember thee, the Desolate,
My voice is like the Jackal's in the night,
A wailing and a lamentation old;
But when a dream of resurrection wakes-
A momentary glory- then my voice
Breaks like the harp's into a jubilant ringing.
Thy names are on my lips, and in my heart
Restless desire: Beth-El, Mach'nayim, P'niel-
Assemblies once of the elect- on you
The glory of His name was shed, for you
The gates were open flung, and with a light
Neither of sun, moon, stars, your beauty shone.
Where on the dearest of His chosen ones
God poured his spirit, let me pour my heart.
I will pass to Hebron, where the ancient graves
Still wait for me, and wander in the dusk
Of the forests of Carmel. I will go to Gilead
And from Gilead pass to Habarim and Hor,
And stand upon the summit of the mountains
Where once the unforgotten brothers stood
And the light of them was seen throughout the world.
There let me fall to earth and press my lips
Into the dust, and weep thy desolation
Till I am blind, and, blind, still comfort thee.
I would to God that I were turned to dust
So that the wind could scatter me upon thee.
What comfort is in life for me, since now
Thine eagles have become the prey of vultures?
What pleasure in the light of day, since now
Thy lions, dead, are less than living dogs?
Oh, I can weep no more: enough, the cup
Of bitterness is full and overflows,
O Zion, beauty and gladness of the world,
Thine is all love and grace, and unto thee
In love and grace we are for ever chained.
We who in thy happiness were happy
Are broken in thy desolation. Each
In the prison of his exile bows to earth,
And turns him toward thy gates. Scattered and lost,
We will remember till the end of time
The cradle of our childhood, from a thousand seas
Turn back and seek again thy hills and vales.
Glory of Pathros, glory of Shinar,
Compared to the light and truth that streamed from thee,
Are dust and vanity: and in all the world
Whom shall I find to liken to thy seers,
Thy princes, thy elect, thy anointed ones?
The kingdoms of the heathen pass like shadows,
Thy glory and thy name endure for ever.
God made His home in thee: well for the man
Who makes God's choice his own, with thee to dwell
And happy, happy the man who vigil keeps
Until the day break over thee again,
Until thy chosen are returned to thee,
And thy first youth in glory is renewed.

translated by Maurice Samuel

Error Success