Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE PLEDGE OF BENJAMIN, by BABETTE DEUTSCH

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THE PLEDGE OF BENJAMIN, by            
First Line: Israel spoke, in his voice a burr
Last Line: He heard leah's voice, he went in to her.
Alternate Author Name(s): Yarmolinsky, Avrahm, Mrs.
Subject(s): Jews; Judaism

Israel spoke, in his voice a burr:
"Why should Pharaoh's steward prefer
My little last lamb, my bundle of myrrh?"

The sons of Israel stood around him,
They were nine strong fighters to confound him,
And the hunger of Benjamin smote him and bound him.

"If I bring him not back," so Reuben spoke,
"You shall put my two sons under the yoke."
Israel covered his eyes with his cloak.

"If I bring him not back," said Judah, "never
May the strength of my enemies fail or sever;
Let the blame be on my head forever."

Remembering Joseph, whom Rachel bore,
Israel heard what the brothers swore;
On a child of Rachel's he looked once more.

"My lamb, my foal, my bundle of spices!
The steward of Pharoah knows many devices. --
Lord, bless thou my sacrifices."

Jacob was shaken, Jacob was old;
He filled their sacks with presents and gold
That Pharaoh's steward might smile to behold.

He weighted their asses down with treasure,
With myrrh and spice for the steward's pleasure.
His cup of grief was a running measure.

Judah was calm with a lion's calm;
He took the gifts of honey and balm,
And Benjamin's hand was in Judah's palm.

He was the last born of his mother,
He went with the nine, even as that other;
Would he return -- the little brother?

Th last store of the corn was spent.
Israel watched them from his tent,
The heart out of his breast he had sent.

Down to Egypt he watched them going,
The swaying asses, the white robes flowing;
His eyes stung with the hot wind blowing.

Why should Pharaoh's steward prefer
His foal, his lamb, his bundle of myrrh?
He heard Leah's voice, he went in to her.

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