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Emma Lazarus


Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus

Biographie

Née le 22 juillet 1849 à New-York, Emma Lazarus est le quatrième enfant des sept qu'ont eu Moïse Lazarus et Esther Nathan, une famille américaine d'origine portugaise installée à New York depuis la période coloniale. A l'origine cette famille avait fui l'inquisition portugaise. Autrefois spécialisée dans le raffinage du sucre, Emma nait dans une famille relativement riche de New-York, elle a grandi dans une maison cossue d'Union Square. De par sa mère elle est liée à un juge de la cour suprême des Etats-Unis, Benjamin N. Cardozo. Sa judaïcité, d'origine séfarade, a joué un grand rôle dans sa carrière d'écrivain, elle l'a influencé dans ses choix politiques et son action publique.

Emma reçoit une éducation riche et complète, elle dispose d'un précepteur qui l'ouvre aux connaissances du Monde. Elle s'intéresse particulièrement à l'écrit. Dès son jeune âge, Emma montre des capacités exceptionnelles en littérature. Elle se penche plus particulièrement sur la littérature américaine et britannique et apprend plusieurs langues, dont l'allemand, le français et l'italien. Elle commence à écrire des poèmes qui seront publiés par son père. Ce recueil est remarqué par Ralph Waldo Emerson qui l'introduit dans les cercles littéraires New-Yorkais et devient en même temps son mentor. Elle a publié un autre volume de poésie, "Admète et autres poèmes" (1871) puis un roman, "Alide : un épisode de la vie de Goethe" (1874) et un drame en vers, "Le Spagnoletto" (1876). Après avoir lu le roman "Daniel Deronda", de George Eliot (1876), roman qui explore le judaïsme dans la société victorienne, Emma Lazarus commence à traduire de la poésie hébraïque médiévale issue de l'allemand ainsi que quelques essais juifs en faveur d'une patrie en Palestine, ceci treize ans avant que Théodore Herzl fonde le mouvement sioniste. Son travail le plus important est un livre intitulé "Songs of semite", composée de poèmes sur le thème juif et de drames lyriques qui célèbrent le courage juif et prônent l'idée d'une nationalité juive. Elle a étudié l'hébreu et traduit des poèmes hébreux classiques des grandes figures littéraires de l'âge d'or de l'Espagne, comprenant ceux de Juda Halevi et de Solomin ibn Gabirol. Beaucoup de ses traductions ont été incorporées plus tard dans les livres de prières standards. Emma travaille également régulièrement dans la presse juive, dans l'hebdomadaire "American hébreu".

En 1880 elle s'émeut du sort des émigrants juifs aux Etats-Unis et commence à faire paraître des articles dans la presse locale pour les soutenir, de façon plus forte après 1881 et l'arrivée des migrants russes en 1881 suite à l'assassinat du tsar Alexandre II (Episode des pogroms). Il faut dire que cet assassinat précédait une vague de violence antisémite, la population juive russe tentant de se réfugier aux Etats-Unis. En 1882 elle publie des livres sémites sur le sujet. Prenant à coeur son nouveau rôle d'accueillant, elle ouvre un centre de réfugiés pour les indigents juifs et aide à l'ouverture de l'Institut Technique Hébraïque de New-York, qui avait pour tâche d'offrir une formation professionnelle à ceux ne disposant d'aucune capacité au travail et ainsi leur offrir l'autonomie. À l'île de Ward, elle a travaillé comme aide pour les immigrants juifs qui avaient été arrêtés par les agents d'immigration de Castle Garden. Elle a été profondément émue par le sort des Juifs russes qu'elle a rencontrés là-bas et ces expériences ont influencé son écriture. Il faut dire que ces immigrants étaient très différents des Juifs de la classe supérieure de New York qu'elle avait l'habitude de côtoyer. Elle fut particulièrement étonnée par les juifs américains assimilés qui semblait gêné par ces réfugiés juifs, à cette époque beaucoup de Juifs américains ne voulaient pas être associés avec ces nouveaux venus tout simplement parce qu'ils avaient peur que ces "Juifs différents" affaiblissent leur propre statut social, compromettant leur capacité d'assimilation dans la culture américaine.

Elle poursuit en parallèle sa carrière littéraire en publie de nombreux poèmes. Elle fait également des traductions de poèmes allemands, principalement ceux de Johann Wolfgang von Goethe et d'Heinrich Heine. Elle écrivit également un roman et deux pièces de théâtre en cinq actes. En 1883, face à la lenteur de la levée de fonds pour l'érection du socle de la statue de la Liberté, elle prend position à la demande de William Maxwell Evarts et de l'auteure de Constance Cary Harrison, elle écrit alors un sonnet nommé "The New Colossus" et destiné à la vente aux enchères au profit de l'exposition "Fonds d'emprunt à destination du piédestal de la Statue de la Liberté de Bartholdi" ("Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty"). Après avoir été publié dans le New York World de Joseph Pulitzer, ainsi que dans le New York Times, et ainsi avoir obtenu une grande popularité, le sonnet s'est lentement effacé de la mémoire collective. Il a fallu attendre 1901, soit 17 ans après la mort de Lazarus, pour que Georgina Theodora, une de ses amies, trouve un livre contenant ce sonnet (dans une librairie !) et parvienne à ressusciter le travail que l'on pensait perdu. Ses efforts ont porté leurs fruits en 1903, avec la création d'une grande plaque de cuivre sur laquelle ce sonnet a été gravé, et que le visiteur peut voir sur un mur du musée de la statue, dans le socle lui-même.

The New Colossus

The New Colossus

En 1883 elle effectue un premier voyage en Europe. En mars 1885 son père décède, et deux mois plus tard, en mai 1885, elle effectue un second voyage, toujours en Europe (Italie, Royaume-Uni). Elle réitèrera un tel voyage en septembre 1887 dont elle reviendra fortement affaiblie. Emma Lazarus est décédée deux mois plus tard, le 19 novembre 1887, à New-York, à l'âge de 38 ans. Elle est enterrée au cimetière Beth-Olom à Brooklyn.

Emma Lazarus aura été toute sa vie une importante précurseur du mouvement sioniste aux Etats-Unis. Elle a plaidé pour la création d'une patrie juive treize ans avant Theodor Herzl a commencé à utiliser le mot "sionisme" bien avant qu'il ne soit popularisé. Elle a été honorée par le Bureau du président de l'arrondissement de Manhattan en Mars 2008 et sa maison sur la 10e rue Ouest fait partie du circuit sur l'histoire des droits des femmes et des lieux historiques. En 2012 le Musée du patrimoine juif la met en vedette lors d'une exposition spéciale. Elle était également une des premières admiratrices d'Henry George.

Emma Lazarus a un mémorial à New-York, il est a Battery Park, tout au Sud de Manhattan. Son adresse exacte est Neighbourhood Financial District, NY, US, United States. C'est une plaque de bronze datant de 1955 offerte à la ville par l'Organisation des Fédérations de Femmes Juives.


The New Colossus

Voici le poème dans sa langue originelle, l'anglais. Sa traduction et l'explication du poème se trouve sur cette page qui lui est dédiée.

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!


Traduction et commentaires


Autres poèmes d'Emma Lazarus

Voici quelques poèmes d'Emma Lazarus, auteur assez prolifique.

Thou two-faced year, Mother of Change and Fate,

Didst weep when Spain cast forth with flaming sword,

The children of the prophets of the Lord,

Prince, priest, and people, spurned by zealot hate.

Hounded from sea to sea, from state to state,

The West refused them, and the East abhorred.

No anchorage the known world could afford,

Close-locked was every port, barred every gate.

Then smiling, thou unveil'dst, O two-faced year,

A virgin world where doors of sunset part,

Saying, "Ho, all who weary, enter here!

There falls each ancient barrier that the art

Of race or creed or rank devised, to rear

Grim bulwarked hatred between heart and heart!"


I


As the blind Milton's memory of light,

The deaf Beethoven's phantasy of tone,

Wroght joys for them surpassing all things known

In our restricted sphere of sound and sight,--

So while the glaring streets of brick and stone

Vix with heat, noise, and dust from morn till night,

I will give rein to Fancy, taking flight

From dismal now and here, and dwell alone

With new-enfranchised senses. All day long,

Think ye 't is I, who sit 'twixt darkened walls,

While ye chase beauty over land and sea?

Uplift on wings of some rare poet's song

Where the wide billow laughs and leaps and falls,

I soar cloud-high, free as the winds are free.


II


Who grasps the substance? who 'mid shadows strays?

He who within some dark-bright wood reclines,

'Twixt sleep and waking, where the needled pines

Have cushioned al his couch with soft brown sprays?

He notes not how the living water shines,

Trembling along the cliff, a flickering haze,

Brimming a wine-bright pool, nor lifts his gaze

To read the ancient wonders and the signs.

Does he possess the actual, or do I,

Who paint on air more than his sense receives,

The glittering pine-tufts with closed eyes behold,

Breathe the strong resinous perfume, see the sky

Quiver like azure flame between the leaves,

And open unseen gates with key of gold?

Gray earth, gray mist, gray sky:

Through vapors hurrying by,

Larger than wont, on high

Floats the horned, yellow moon.

Chill airs are faintly stirred,

And far away is heard,

Of some fresh-awakened bird,

The querulous, shrill tune.


The dark mist hides the face

Of the dim land: no trace

Of rock or river's place

In the thick air is drawn;

But dripping grass smells sweet,

And rustling branches meet,

And sounding water greet

The slow, sure, sacred dawn.


Past is the long black night,

With its keen lightnings white,

Thunder and floods: new light

The glimmering low east streaks.

The dense clouds part: between

Their jagged rents are seen

Pale reaches blue and green,

As the mirk curtain breaks.


Above the shadowy world,

Still more and more unfurled,

The gathered mists upcurled

Like phantoms melt and pass.

In clear-obscure revealed,

Brown wood, gray stream, dark field:

Fresh, healthy odors yield

Wet furrows, flowers, and grass.


The sudden, splendid gleam

Of one thin, golden beam

Shoots from the feathered rim

Of yon hill crowned with woods.

Down its embowered side,

As living waters slide,

So the great morning tide

Follows in sunny floods.


From bush and hedge and tree

Joy, unrestrained and free,

Breaks forth in melody,

Twitter and chirp and song:

Alive the festal air

With gauze-winged creatures fair,

That flicker everywhere,

Dart, poise, and flash along.


The shining mists are gone,

Slight films of gold swift-blown

Before the strong, bright sun

Or the deep-colored sky:

A world of life and glow

Sparkles and basks below,

Where the soft meads a-row,

Hoary with dew-fall, lie.


Does not the morn break thus,

Swift, bright, victorious,

With new skies cleared for us,

Over the soul storm-tost?

Her night was long and deep,

Strange visions vexed her sleep,

Strange sorrows bade her weep:

Her faith in dawn was lost.


No halt, no rest for her,

The immortal wanderer

From sphere to higher sphere,

Toward the pure source of day.

The new light shames her fears,

Her faithlessness, her tears,

As the new sun appears

To light her godlike way.

The fervent, pale-faced Mother ere she sleep,

Looks out upon the zigzag-lighted square,

The beautiful bare trees, the blue night-air,

The revelation of the star-strewn deep,

World above world, and heaven over heaven.

Between the tree-tops and the skies, her sight

Rests on a steadfast, ruddy-shining light,

High in the tower, an earthly star of even.

Hers is the faith in saints' and angels' power,

And mediating love--she breathes a prayer

For yon tired watcher in the gray old tower.

He the shrewd, skeptic poet unaware

Feels comforted and stilled, and knows not whence

Falls this unwonted peace on heart and sense.

In rich Virginian woods,

The scarlet creeper reddens over graves,

Among the solemn trees enlooped with vines;

Heroic spirits haunt the solitudes,-

The noble souls of half a million braves,

Amid the murmurous pines.


Ah! who is left behind,

Earnest and eloquent, sincere and strong,

To consecrate their memories with words

Not all unmeet? with fitting dirge and song

To chant a requiem purer than the wind,

And sweeter than the birds?


Here, though all seems at peace,

The placid, measureless sky serenely fair,

The laughter of the breeze among the leaves,

The bars of sunlight slanting through the trees,

The reckless wild-flowers blooming everywhere,

The grasses' delicate sheaves,-


Nathless each breeze that blows,

Each tree that trembles to its leafy head

With nervous life, revives within our mind,

Tender as flowers of May, the thoughts of those

Who lie beneath the living beauty, dead,-

Beneath the sunshine, blind.


For brave dead soldiers, these:

Blessings and tears of aching thankfulness,

Soft flowers for the graves in wreaths enwove,

The odorous lilac of dear memories,

The heroic blossoms of the wilderness,

And the rich rose of love.


But who has sung their praise,

Not less illustrious, who are living yet?

Armies of heroes, satisfied to pass

Calmly, serenely from the whole world's gaze,

And cheerfully accept, without regret,

Their old life as it was,


With all its petty pain,

Its irritating littleness and care;

They who have scaled the mountain, with content

Sublime, descend to live upon the plain;

Steadfast as though they breathed the mountain-air

Still, wheresoe'er they went.


They who were brave to act,

And rich enough their action to forget;

Who, having filled their day with chivalry,

Withdraw and keep their simpleness intact,

And all unconscious add more lustre yet

Unto their victory.


On the broad Western plains

Their patriarchal life they live anew;

Hunters as mighty as the men of old,

Or harvesting the plenteous, yellow grains,

Gathering ripe vintage of dusk bunches blue,

Or working mines of gold;


Or toiling in the town,

Armed against hindrance, weariness, defeat,

With dauntless purpose not to serve or yield,

And calm, defiant, they struggle on,

As sturdy and as valiant in the street,

As in the camp and field.


And those condemned to live,

Maimed, helpless, lingering still through suffering years,

May they not envy now the restful sleep

Of the dear fellow-martyrs they survive?

Not o'er the dead, but over these, your tears,

O brothers, ye may weep!


New England fields I see,

The lovely, cultured landscape, waving grain,

Wide haughty rivers, and pale, English skies.

And lo! a farmer ploughing busily,

Who lifts a swart face, looks upon the plain,-

I see, in his frank eyes,


The hero's soul appear.

Thus in the common fields and streets they stand;

The light that on the past and distant gleams,

They cast upon the present and the near,

With antique virtues from some mystic land,

Of knightly deeds and dreams.

Not a lad in Saragossa

Nobler-featured, haughtier-tempered,

Than the Alcalde's youthful grandson,

Donna Clara's boy Pedrillo.


Handsome as the Prince of Evil,

And devout as St. Ignatius.

Deft at fence, unmatched with zither,

Miniature of knightly virtues.


Truly an unfailing blessing

To his pious, widowed mother,

To the beautiful, lone matron

Who forswore the world to rear him.


For her beauty hath but ripened

In such wise as the pomegranate

Putteth by her crown of blossoms,

For her richer crown of fruitage.


Still her hand is claimed and courted,

Still she spurns her proudest suitors,

Doting on a phantom passion,

And upon her boy Pedrillo.


Like a saint lives Donna Clara,

First at matins, last at vespers,

Half her fortune she expendeth

Buying masses for the needy.


Visiting the poor afflicted,

Infinite is her compassion,

Scorning not the Moorish beggar,

Nor the wretched Jew despising.


And-a scandal to the faithful,

E'en she hath been known to welcome

To her castle the young Rabbi,

Offering to his tribe her bounty.


Rarely hath he crossed the threshold,

Yet the thought that he hath crossed it,

Burns like poison in the marrow

Of the zealous youth Pedrillo.


By the blessed Saint Iago,

He hath vowed immortal hatred

To these circumcised intruders

Who pollute the soil of Spaniards.

Seated in his mother's garden,

At high noon the boy Pedrillo

Playeth with his favorite parrot,

Golden-green with streaks of scarlet.


'Pretty Dodo, speak thy lesson,'

Coaxed Pedrillo-'thief and traitor'-

'Thief and traitor'-croaked the parrot,

'Is the yellow-skirted Rabbi.'


And the boy with peals of laughter,

Stroked his favorite's head of emerald,

Raised his eyes, and lo! before him

Stood the yellow-skirted Rabbi.


In his dark eyes gleamed no anger,

No hot flush o'erspread his features.

'Neath his beard his pale lips quivered,

And a shadow crossed his forehead.


Very gentle was his aspect,

And his voice was mild and friendly,

'Evil words, my son, thou speakest,

Teaching to the fowls of heaven.


'In our Talmud it stands written,

Thrice curst is the tongue of slander,

Poisoning also with its victim,

Him who speaks and him who listens.'


But no whit abashed, Pedrillo,

'What care I for curse of Talmud?

'T is no slander to speak evil

Of the murderers of our Saviour.


'To your beard I will repeat it,

That I only bide my manhood,

To wreak all my lawful hatred,

On thyself and on thy people.'

Very gently spoke the Rabbi,

'Have a care, my son Pedrillo,

Thou art orphaned, and who knoweth

But thy father loved this people?'


'Think you words like these will touch me?

Such I laugh to scorn, sir Rabbi,

From high heaven, my sainted father

On my deeds will smile in blessing.


'Loyal knight was he and noble,

And my mother oft assures me,

Ne'er she saw so pure a Christian,

'T is from him my zeal deriveth.'


'What if he were such another

As myself who stand before thee?'

'I should curse the hour that bore me,

I should die of shame and horror.'


'Harsher is thy creed than ours;

For had I a son as comely

As Pedrillo, I would love him,

Love him were he thrice a Christian.


'In his youth my youth renewing

Pamper, fondle, die to serve him,

Only breathing through his spirit-

Couldst thou not love such a father?'


Faltering spoke the deep-voiced Rabbi,

With white lips and twitching fingers,

Then in clear, young, steady treble,

Answered him the boy Pedrillo:


'At the thought my heart revolteth,

All your tribe offend my senses,

They're an eyesore to my vision,

And a stench unto my nostrils.


'When I meet these unbelievers,

With thick lips and eagle noses,

Thus I scorn them, thus revile them,

Thus I spit upon their garment.'


And the haughty youth passed onward,

Bearing on his wrist his parrot,

And the yellow-skirted Rabbi

With bowed head sought Donna Clara.

'O World-God, give me Wealth!' the Egyptian cried.

His prayer was granted. High as heaven, behold

Palace and Pyramid; the brimming tide

Of lavish Nile washed all his land with gold.

Armies of slaves toiled ant-wise at his feet,

World-circling traffic roared through mart and street,

His priests were gods, his spice-balmed kings enshrined,

Set death at naught in rock-ribbed charnels deep.

Seek Pharaoh's race to-day and ye shall find

Rust and the moth, silence and dusty sleep.


'O World-God, give me beauty!' cried the Greek.

His prayer was granted. All the earth became

Plastic and vocal to his sense; each peak,

Each grove, each stream, quick with Promethean flame,

Peopled the world with imaged grace and light.

The lyre was his, and his the breathing might

Of the immortal marble, his the play

Of diamond-pointed thought and golden tongue.

Go seek the sun-shine race, ye find to-day

A broken column and a lute unstrung.


'O World-God, give me Power!' the Roman cried.

His prayer was granted. The vast world was chained

A captive to the chariot of his pride.

The blood of myriad provinces was drained

To feed that fierce, insatiable red heart.

Invulnerably bulwarked every part

With serried legions and with close-meshed Code,

Within, the burrowing worm had gnawed its home,

A roofless ruin stands where once abode

The imperial race of everlasting Rome.


'O Godhead, give me Truth!' the Hebrew cried.

His prayer was granted; he became the slave

Of the Idea, a pilgrim far and wide,

Cursed, hated, spurned, and scourged with none to save.

The Pharaohs knew him, and when Greece beheld,

His wisdom wore the hoary crown of Eld.

Beauty he hath forsworn, and wealth and power.

Seek him to-day, and find in every land.

No fire consumes him, neither floods devour;

Immortal through the lamp within his hand.

The little and the great are joined in one

By God's great force. The wondrous golden sun

Is linked unto the glow-worm's tiny spark;

The eagle soars to heaven in his flight;

And in those realms of space, all bathed in light,

Soar none except the eagle and the lark.

By the impulse of my will,

By the red flame in my blood,

By me nerves' electric thrill,

By the passion of my mood,

My concentrated desire,

My undying, desperate love,

I ignore Fate, I defy her,

Iron-hearted Death I move.

When the town lies numb with sleep,

Here, round-eyed I sit; my breath

Quickly stirred, my flesh a-creep,

And I force the gates of death.

I nor move nor speak-you'd deem

From my quiet face and hands,

I were tranced-but in her dream,

SHE responds, she understands.

I have power on what is not,

Or on what has ceased to be,

From that deep, earth-hollowed spot,

I can lift her up to me.

And, or ere I am aware

Through the closed and curtained door,

Comes my lady white and fair,

And embraces me once more.

Though the clay clings to her gown,

Yet all heaven is in her eyes;

Cool, kind fingers press mine eyes,

To my soul her soul replies.

But when breaks the common dawn,

And the city wakes-behold!

My shy phantom is withdrawn,

And I shiver lone and cold.

And I know when she has left,

She is stronger far than I,

And more subtly spun her weft,

Than my human wizardry.

Though I force her to my will,

By the red flame in my blood,

By my nerves' electric thrill,

By the passion of my mood,

Yet all day a ghost am I.

Nerves unstrung, spent will, dull brain.

I achieve, attain, but die,

And she claims me hers again.

Would I had waked this morn where Florence smiles,

A-bloom with beauty, a white rose full-blown,

Yet rich in sacred dust, in storied stone,

Precious past all the wealth of Indian isles-

From olive-hoary Fiesole to feed

On Brunelleschi's dome my hungry eye,

And see against the lotus-colored sky,

Spring the slim belfry graceful as a reed.

To kneel upon the ground where Dante trod,

To breathe the air of immortality

From Angelo and Raphael-TO BE-

Each sense new-quickened by a demi-god.

To hear the liquid Tuscan speech at whiles,

From citizen and peasant, to behold

The heaven of Leonardo washed with gold-

Would I had waked this morn where Florence smile!

Wake, Israel, wake! Recall to-day

The glorious Maccabean rage,

The sire heroic, hoary-gray,

His five-fold lion-lineage:

The Wise, the Elect, the Help-of-God,

The Burst-of-Spring, the Avenging Rod.


From Mizpeh's mountain-ridge they saw

Jerusalem's empty streets, her shrine

Laid waste where Greeks profaned the Law,

With idol and with pagan sign.

Mourners in tattered black were there,

With ashes sprinkled on their hair.


Then from the stony peak there rang

A blast to ope the graves: down poured

The Maccabean clan, who sang

Their battle-anthem to the Lord.

Five heroes lead, and following, see,

Ten thousand rush to victory!


Oh for Jerusalem's trumpet now,

To blow a blast of shattering power,

To wake the sleepers high and low,

And rouse them to the urgent hour!

No hand for vengeance-but to save,

A million naked swords should wave.


Oh deem not dead that martial fire,

Say not the mystic flame is spent!

With Moses' law and David's lyre,

Your ancient strength remains unbent.

Let but an Ezra rise anew,

To lift the BANNER OF THE JEW!


A rag, a mock at first-erelong,

When men have bled and women wept,

To guard its precious folds from wrong,

Even they who shrunk, even they who slept,

Shall leap to bless it, and to save.

Strike! for the brave revere the brave!

Kindle the taper like the steadfast star

Ablaze on evening's forehead o'er the earth,

And add each night a lustre till afar

An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.

Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,

Blow the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn;

Chant psalms of victory till the heart takes fire,

The Maccabean spirit leap new-born.


Remember how from wintry dawn till night,

Such songs were sung in Zion, when again

On the high altar flamed the sacred light,

And, purified from every Syrian stain,

The foam-white walls with golden shields were hung,

With crowns and silken spoils, and at the shrine,

Stood, midst their conqueror-tribe, five chieftains sprung

From one heroic stock, one seed divine.


Five branches grown from Mattathias' stem,

The Blessed John, the Keen-Eyed Jonathan,

Simon the fair, the Burst-of Spring, the Gem,

Eleazar, Help of-God; o'er all his clan

Judas the Lion-Prince, the Avenging Rod,

Towered in warrior-beauty, uncrowned king,

Armed with the breastplate and the sword of God,

Whose praise is: 'He received the perishing.'


They who had camped within the mountain-pass,

Couched on the rock, and tented neath the sky,

Who saw from Mizpah's heights the tangled grass

Choke the wide Temple-courts, the altar lie

Disfigured and polluted-who had flung

Their faces on the stones, and mourned aloud

And rent their garments, wailing with one tongue,

Crushed as a wind-swept bed of reeds is bowed,


Even they by one voice fired, one heart of flame,

Though broken reeds, had risen, and were men,

They rushed upon the spoiler and o'ercame,

Each arm for freedom had the strength of ten.

Now is their mourning into dancing turned,

Their sackcloth doffed for garments of delight,

Week-long the festive torches shall be burned,

Music and revelry wed day with night.


Still ours the dance, the feast, the glorious Psalm,

The mystic lights of emblem, and the Word.

Where is our Judas? Where our five-branched palm?

Where are the lion-warriors of the Lord?

Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,

Sound the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn,

Chant hymns of victory till the heart take fire,

The Maccabean spirit leap new-born!

Spoken by a Citizen of Malta-1300.

A curious title held in high repute,

One among many honors, thickly strewn

On my lord Bishop's head, his grace of Malta.

Nobly he bears them all,-with tact, skill, zeal,

Fulfills each special office, vast or slight,

Nor slurs the least minutia,-therewithal

Wears such a stately aspect of command,

Broad-checked, broad-chested, reverend, sanctified,

Haloed with white about the tonsure's rim,

With dropped lids o'er the piercing Spanish eyes

(Lynx-keen, I warrant, to spy out heresy);

Tall, massive form, o'ertowering all in presence,

Or ere they kneel to kiss the large white hand.

His looks sustain his deeds,-the perfect prelate,

Whose void chair shall be taken, but not filled.

You know not, who are foreign to the isle,

Haply, what this Red Disk may be, he guards.

'T is the bright blotch, big as the Royal seal,

Branded beneath the beard of every Jew.

These vermin so infest the isle, so slide

Into all byways, highways that may lead

Direct or roundabout to wealth or power,

Some plain, plump mark was needed, to protect

From the degrading contact Christian folk.


The evil had grown monstrous: certain Jews

Wore such a haughty air, had so refined,

With super-subtile arts, strict, monkish lives,

And studious habit, the coarse Hebrew type,

One might have elbowed in the public mart

Iscariot,-nor suspected one's soul-peril.

Christ's blood! it sets my flesh a-creep to think!

We may breathe freely now, not fearing taint,

Praise be our good Lord Bishop! He keeps count

Of every Jew, and prints on cheek or chin

The scarlet stamp of separateness, of shame.


No beard, blue-black, grizzled or Judas-colored,

May hide that damning little wafer-flame.

When one appears therewith, the urchins know

Good sport's at hand; they fling their stones and mud,

Sure of their game. But most the wisdom shows

Upon the unbelievers' selves; they learn

Their proper rank; crouch, cringe, and hide,-lay by

Their insolence of self-esteem; no more

Flaunt forth in rich attire, but in dull weeds,

Slovenly donned, would slink past unobserved;

Bow servile necks and crook obsequious knees,

Chin sunk in hollow chest, eyes fixed on earth

Or blinking sidewise, but to apprehend

Whether or not the hated spot be spied.

I warrant my Lord Bishop has full hands,

Guarding the Red Disk-lest one rogue escape!

(A Dream.)

Not a stain,

In the sun-brimmed sapphire cup that is the sky-

Not a ripple on the black translucent lane

Of the palace-walled lagoon.

Not a cry

As the gondoliers with velvet oar glide by,

Through the golden afternoon.


From this height

Where the carved, age-yellowed balcony o'erjuts

Yonder liquid, marble pavement, see the light

Shimmer soft beneath the bridge,

That abuts

On a labyrinth of water-ways and shuts

Half their sky off with its ridge.


We shall mark

All the pageant from this ivory porch of ours,

Masques and jesters, mimes and minstrels, while we hark

To their music as they fare.

Scent their flowers

Flung from boat to boat in rainbow radiant showers

Through the laughter-ringing air.


See! they come,

Like a flock of serpent-throated black-plumed swans,

With the mandoline, viol, and the drum,

Gems afire on arms ungloved,

Fluttering fans,

Floating mantles like a great moth's streaky vans

Such as Veronese loved.


But behold

In their midst a white unruffled swan appear.

One strange barge that snowy tapestries enfold,

White its tasseled, silver prow.

Who is here?

Prince of Love in masquerade or Prince of Fear,

Clad in glittering silken snow?


Cheek and chin

Where the mask's edge stops are of the hoar-frosts hue,

And no eyebeams seem to sparkle from within

Where the hollow rings have place.

Yon gay crew

Seem to fly him, he seems ever to pursue.

'T is our sport to watch the race.


At his side

Stands the goldenest of beauties; from her glance,

From her forehead, shines the splendor of a bride,

And her feet seem shod with wings,

To entrance,

For she leaps into a wild and rhythmic dance,

Like Salome at the King's.


'T is his aim

Just to hold, to clasp her once against his breast,

Hers to flee him, to elude him in the game.

Ah, she fears him overmuch!

Is it jest,-

Is it earnest? a strange riddle lurks half-guessed

In her horror of his touch.


For each time

That his snow-white fingers reach her, fades some ray

From the glory of her beauty in its prime;

And the knowledge grows upon us that the dance

Is no play

'Twixt the pale, mysterious lover and the fay-

But the whirl of fate and chance.


Where the tide

Of the broad lagoon sinks plumb into the sea,

There the mystic gondolier hath won his bride.

Hark, one helpless, stifled scream!

Must it be?

Mimes and minstrels, flowers and music, where are ye?

Was all Venice such a dream?



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Autres sites Internet du même auteur dans le domaine Littéraire : Agatha Christie, Marguerite Duras, Charles Baudelaire, dans des domaines divers : Les Pyrénées Catalanes, L'univers Star Trek, L'Art Roman.






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