Famous Holiday Poem

From The Standard Book of Jewish Verse published in 1917. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah (or Chanukah), is also known as the festival of lights because of the candles which are lit in a Menorah, an 8 branch candelabra. Hanukkah lasts 8 days and on each day another candle is added to the total.
As told in the poem, the holiday commemorates the 2nd century BCE rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem (part of Judea, another name for Israel) after the successful Maccabean Revolt. The Maccabees were the leaders of a Jewish rebel army, led by Judas, who took back control of Judea from the Syrian Greeks.

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Famous Poem

Chanukah Lights

By more Philip M. Raskin

I KINDLED my eight little candles,
  My Chanukah-candles--and lo!
Fair visions and dreams half-forgotten
  To me came of years long ago.

I musingly gazed at my candles;
  Meseemed in their quivering flames
In golden, in fiery letters
  I read the old glorious names,

The names of our heroes immortal,
  The noble, the brave, and the true,
A battle-field saw I in vision
  Where many were conquered by few.

Where trampled in dust lay the mighty,
  Judea's proud Syrian foe;
And Judas, the brave Maccabaeus,
  In front of his army I saw.

His eyes shone like bright stars of heaven,
  Like music rang out his strong voice:
"Brave comrades, we fought and we conquered,
  Now let us, in God's name, rejoice!"

"We conquered--but know, O brave comrades,
  No triumph is due to the sword!
Remember our glorious watchword,
  'For People and Towns of the Lord!'"

He spoke, and from all the four corners
  An echo repeated each word;
The woods and the mountains re-echoed:
  "For People and Towns of the Lord!"

And swiftly the message spread, saying:
  "Judea, Judea is free,
Re-kindled the lamp in the Temple,
  Re-kindled each bosom with glee!"

My Chanukah-candles soon flickered,
  Around me was darkness of night;
But deep in my soul I felt shining
  A heavenly-glorious light.


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