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Joseph Friedlander, comp. The Standard Book of Jewish Verse. 1917.

By S. Frug (Trans. Alice Stone Blackwell)

The Talmud

ANCIENT pages of the Talmud,

Legends, tales that there I view,

In my mournful life and dreary

Oftentimes I turn to you.

When at night amid the darkness

On mine eyes sleep will not rest,

And I sit alone, and wretched,

With my head upon my breast,

In those hours, as a star shines

In the azure summer night,

Memories amid my sadness

Then begin to glimmer bright.

I recall my love, my childhood;

Those sweet hours come back again

When I still was free from sorrow,

Free from anger, free from pain.

I recall those times, long vanished,

When I quaffed, without alloy,

Life’s first, best and sweetest chalice,

Freedom, mirthfulness and joy.

Those old years so sweet and precious

Pass again before mine eyes,

And the pages of the Talmud

In my memory arise.

Oh! the precious ancient pages!

All the lights and stars I see

Burning, shining in those pages;

They can ne’er extinguished be!

Myriad streams and myriad rivers

Have flowed o’er them in the past;

Sand has covered them and hid them,

Storms have rent them—still they last.

Yes, the ancient, ancient pages

Still survive and perish not,

Although yellowed, torn and blackened,

Here a hole and there a spot.

What of that? Indeed it truly

Is a graveyard, old and hoar,

Where within the tomb lies buried

All that we shall see no more.