Famous Holiday Poem

Passover (or Pesach as it's called in Hebrew) is the Festival of Freedom, a Jewish Holiday commemorating the liberation of the ancient Israelites from Slavery in Egypt. Passover is celebrated in the spring time. The poet uses the different seasons as metaphors to time periods in the history of the Jewish people. Winter is slavery and exile when Israel and the Jewish people are ruled by others. Spring, the revival of freedom. Summer, the time when Israel ruled itself with the temple in Jerusalem.

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The Feast Of Freedom

By

I REMEMBER in my childhood
From my grandfather I heard
Charming tales of gone-by ages
That my soul so deeply stirred.

Charming tales of ancient sages
That I felt I knew were true;
Stories of the hoary ages
That remain forever new.

Of the Pesach-days he told me,
Days that joy and sunshine bring;
Of the Festival of Freedom,
Of Revival and of Spring.

Of the slave-people in Egypt,
Whose hot blood so rashly spilled,
Soaked into cold bricks and mortar
Of the fortresses they built.

How on them, the God-forsaken,
After gloomy wintry days,
Shone at last the rays of freedom,
Heaven's bright and cheerful rays.

How among them rose a leader,
Star-like in a gloomy night,
And he pleaded for their freedom,
And he crushed a tyrant's might.

How he taught the fettered people
Not in vain their blood to spill,
Turning bondmen into freemen,
Men of honor and of will.

How the people's march to Freedom
Could no despot's might restrain,
Till before their will resistless
Stormy ocean oped in twain.

"Then it was our people's springtime,
After which a summer came,
Followed by a golden harvest,
Free from yoke and free from shame."

"Grand-sire, dear," I asked enraptured,
"How long did that summer last?"
But he sadly gazed and pondered,
And he answered me at last.

"Child, it was a long, bright summer,
But a winter came again,
Came with cold and snow and showers,
With its gales of grief and pain.

"Frost and tempest-strife, contention--
Raged once more in every part,
Stealing into souls and freezing
Will and hope in every heart.

"Furious storm once more dispersed us;
Israel rendered free and great,
Into lands of cruel despots
Went to face a bondman's fate."

"Grand-sire, dear, why does this winter
Seem so endless, then?"--I sighed--
And two crystal tears were trembling
In his eyes when he replied.

"Yes, my boy, it seems so endless,
But it cannot, will not be;
Israel will not slave forever,
One day, child, he will be free.

In his soul will re-awaken
Courage, will, and pride, and might;
Freedom's sunrise must needs follow
Israel's starless exile night.

"But till then, ere spring's arrival--
For the winter's steps are slow--
Pesach is a sweet remembrance
Of a spring of long ago."

more Philip M. Raskin

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