Biography of Emma Lazarus


Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus


Born July 22, 1849 in New York, Emma Lazarus was the fourth child of the seven that have been Moses Lazarus and Esther Nathan, an American family of Portuguese origin living in New York since the colonial period. Originally the family had fled the Portuguese Inquisition. Formerly specializing in sugar refining, Emma was born into a relatively wealthy family in New York, she grew up in a stately home in Union Square. From her mother she is related to a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, Benjamin N. Cardozo. Her Jewishness, of Sephardic origin, played a big role in her writing career, she has influenced in her policies and public action.

Emma receives a rich and comprehensive education, she has a tutor that opens at the World Knowledge. She is particularly interested in writing. From an early age, Emma shows exceptional abilities in literature. It takes a closer look at the US and British literature and learns several languages, including German, French and Italian. She began writing poems to be published by her father. This collection was noticed by Ralph Waldo Emerson who introduced the literary circles and became New Yorkers also her mentor. She published another volume of poetry, "Admetus and Other Poems" (1871) and a novel, "Alide: an episode from the life of Goethe" (1874) and a verse drama, "The Spagnoletto" (1876). After reading the novel "Daniel Deronda" by George Eliot (1876), a novel that explores Judaism in Victorian society, Emma Lazarus began to translate the medieval Hebrew poetry after the German Jews and some tests in favor a homeland in Palestine, this thirteen years before Theodor Herzl founded the Zionist movement. Her most important work is a book called "Songs of semite" composed poems on Jewish themes and lyrical dramas celebrating the Jewish courage and advocate the idea of ​​a Jewish nationality. She studied Hebrew and translated classical Hebrew poetry of the great literary figures of the golden age of Spain, including Judah Halevi and Solomin ibn Gabirol. Many of her translations were later incorporated into the books of standard prayers. Emma also works regularly in the Jewish press, in the weekly "American Hebrew".

In 1880 she moved about the fate of Jewish emigrants to the United States and began to publish articles in the local press to support them, more strongly after 1881 and the arrival of Russian migrants in 1881 following the assassination Tsar Alexander II (Episode pogroms). It must be said that this murder preceded a wave of anti-Semitic violence, the Russian Jewish population tempting to take refuge in the United States. In 1882 she published Semitic books on the subject. Taking to heart her new role welcoming, she opened a refugee center for Jewish poor and helps the opening of the Hebrew Technical Institute of New York, which was tasked with providing vocational training for those not having no ability to work and offer them autonomy. On the island of Ward, she worked as an assistant for Jewish immigrants who had been arrested by immigration officers of Castle Garden. She was deeply moved by the plight of Russian Jews she met there and these experiences have influenced her writing. It must be said that these immigrants were very different from the Jews of the upper class of New York she used to rub. She was particularly surprised by the assimilated American Jews who seemed embarrassed by these Jewish refugees, at that time many American Jews did not want to be associated with these newcomers simply because they were afraid that these "different Jews" weaken their own social status, compromising their ability to assimilate into American culture.

She continues in parallel her literary career published numerous poems. She also does translations of German poems, mostly those of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine. She also wrote a novel and two plays in five acts. In 1883, with the pace of raising funds for the erection of the base of the Statue of Liberty, it shall, on the request of William Maxwell Evarts and the author Constance Cary Harrison, so she wrote a sonnet named "The New Colossus" and for the auction for the benefit of the exhibition "Loan Fund to the pedestal the Statue of Liberty by Bartholdi" ("Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty "). After being published in the New York World of Joseph Pulitzer and The New York Times, and have obtained great popularity, the sonnet slowly erased from the collective memory. It was not until 1901, 17 years after the death of Lazarus, that Georgina Theodora, one of her friends, finds a book containing this sonnet (in a bookstore!) And manages to revive the work once thought lost. Her efforts bore fruit in 1903 with the creation of a large copper plate on which was engraved the sonnet, and the visitor can see a wall of the museum of the statue in the base itself.

The New Colossus

The New Colossus

In 1883 she makes a first trip to Europe. In March 1885 her father died, and two months later, in May 1885, it makes a second trip, still in Europe (Italy, UK). She will reiterate such a trip in September 1887 that it will return strongly weakened. Emma Lazarus died two months later, on 19 November 1887 in New York, at the age of 38 years. She is buried in Beth-Olom Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Emma Lazarus has been all her life an important precursor of the Zionist movement in the United States. She called for the creation of a Jewish homeland thirteen years before Herzl began to use the word "Zionism" well before it was popularized. She was honored by the Office of the President of the Borough of Manhattan in March 2008 and her house on 10th Street West is part of the circuit on the history of women's rights and historic sites. In 2012 the Museum of Jewish Heritage features at a special exhibition. She was also one of the first admirers of Henry George.

Emma Lazarus has a memorial in New York, it is a Battery Park, just south of Manhattan. Its exact address is Neighbourhood Financial District, NY, US, United States. It is a bronze plaque dating from 1955 donated to the town by the Organization of Jewish Women of Federations.

The New Colossus

Here is the poem in its original language, English. Its french translation and explanations of the poem are on a dedicated page.

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!

French translation and explanations

Other poems by Emma Lazarus

Here are some of Emma Lazarus poem, quite prolific author.

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!"


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.


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 her 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 her gaze

To read the ancient wonders and the signs.

Does he possess the actual, or do I,

Who paint on air more than her 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 her 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 her 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 her 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 her mother's garden,

At high noon the boy Pedrillo

Playeth with her 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 her favorite's head of emerald,

Raised her eyes, and lo! before him

Stood the yellow-skirted Rabbi.

In her dark eyes gleamed no anger,

No hot flush o'erspread her features.

'Neath her beard her pale lips quivered,

And a shadow crossed her forehead.

Very gentle was her aspect,

And her 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 her youth my youth renewing

Pamper, fondle, die to serve him,

Only breathing through her 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 her wrist her 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 her land with gold.

Armies of slaves toiled ant-wise at her feet,

World-circling traffic roared through mart and street,

His priests were gods, her 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 her sense; each peak,

Each grove, each stream, quick with Promethean flame,

Peopled the world with imaged grace and light.

The lyre was his, and her the breathing might

Of the immortal marble, her 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 her 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 her 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 her 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 her 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, her 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 her 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 her 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 her aim

Just to hold, to clasp her once against her 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 her touch.

For each time

That her 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 her 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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