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

By James Russell Lowell

What Rabbi Jehosha Said

RABBI JEHOSHA used to say

That God made angels every day,

Perfect as Michael and the rest

First brooded in creation’s nest,

Whose only office was to cry

Hosanna! once and then to die;

Or rather, with Life’s essence blent,

To be led home from banishment.

Rabbi Jehosha had the skill

To know that Heaven is in God’s will;

And doing that, though for a space

One heart-beat long, may win a grace

As full of grandeur and of glow

As Princes of the Chariot know.

’T were glorious, no doubt, to be

One of the strong-winged Hierarchy,

To burn with Seraphs, or to shine

With Cherubs, deathlessly divine;

Yet I, perhaps, poor earthly clod,

Could I forget myself in God,

Could I but find my nature’s clue

Simply as birds and blossoms do,

And but for one rapt moment know

’T is Heaven must come, not we must go;

Should win my place as near the throne

As the pearl-angel of its zone,

And God would listen mid the throng

For my one breath of perfect song,

That, in its simple human way,

Said all the Host of Heaven could say.