Longfellow and The Jewish Cemetery at Newport

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These Ishmaels and Hagars of mankind?

They lived in narrow streets and lanes obscure,

Ghetto and Judenstrass, in mirk and mire;

Taught in the school of patience to endure

The life of anguish and the death of fire.

All their lives long, with the unleavened bread

And bitter herbs of exile and its fears,

The wasting famine of the heart they fed,

And slaked its thirst with marah of their tears.

Anathema maranatha! was the cry

That rang from town to town, from street to street:

At every gale the accursed Mordecai

Was mocked and jeered, and spurned by Christian feet.

Pride and humiliation hand, in hand

Walked with them through the world where’er they went;

Trampled and beaten were they as the sand,

And yet unshaken as the continent.

For in the background figures vague and vast

Of patriarchs and of prophets rose sublime,

And all the great traditions of the Past

They saw reflected in the coming time.

And thus forever with reverted look

The mystic volume of the world they read,

Spelling it backward, like a Hebrew book,

Till life became a Legend of the Dead.

But ah! what once has been shall be no more!

The groaning earth in travail and in pain

Brings forth its races, but does not restore,

And the dead nations never rise again.