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The Banner of the Jew

by Emma Lazarus, 1888

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!

Published in The Poems of Emma Lazarus, Vol. 2
Tags: ambition, hanukkah, heroes, history, identity, past

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