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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE INTRUDER, by                    
First Line: Once in my secluded chamber
Last Line: "stay""—and I awoke. ..."
Alternate Author Name(s): Raskin, P. M.
Variant Title(s): ...whom You Are To Blame'
Subject(s): Exiles; Hebrew Literature; Israel; Jews - Exodus From Egypt; Oppression

ONCE in my secluded chamber
Late at night I read
Israel's ancient wondrous story;
How he shone and shed

Light around him, in his homeland
Thriving free and great ...
Then my thoughts passed to his later
Treacherous, cruel fate:

Israel homeless, footsore, captive
Into exile goes,
And the world has long forgotten
What to him it owes.

"Gentile world! You have polluted
Springs from which you drank!"
And in bitter, sad reflections,
Tired and weak I sank. ...

Stealthily an old man entered
My secluded room;
On his breast a cross suspended,
In his eyes—deep gloom.

"Fear not," said he, "vain intruder
I am not, you'll find;
You accused me, and I came here,
Came to speak my mind.

"Not defend myself, but tell you
Whom you are to blame
For your homelessness, your downfall,
For your grief and shame.

"No, not I, but you polluted
Your eternal spring;
Home and faith and pride abandoned,
And to exile cling.

"Kneel and pray to alien altars,
Worship alien gods,
Even like in cast-off garments
Deal in cast-off thoughts.

"Gather crumbs at strangers' tables ...
No, your pride is gone!
For you glory that you have no
Table of your own. ...

"Faith, and truth, and pride—all treasures
You have prized of old;
For a lentil-pottage long since
You your birthright sold.

"You no longer feel the horror
Of a slave's disgrace.
Do you want me to respect you,
Honour such a race?

"Once you heroes had and prophets
Noble, great and true;
How much of their daring spirit
Now is left in you?

"Grandsons of the Maccabeans!
If those heroes came
Saw their servile offsprings—they would
Die again—of shame!

"Dead is all your pride and valour,
Silent is your tongue,
Tongue of bards, and kings and prophets—
You forsook it long.

"And your home that waits deserted
Do you e'er recall?
Where are all your rich and mighty—
Mammon's High Priests all?

"Like deserters they are sailing
Under foreign flagxss,
Lackeys that their masters' mantles
Wear—to hide their rags.

"Crumbs of bread, and night of lodging—
Dare no more expect!
No, a race that lost its self-pride
No one can respect.

"This is all I came to tell you
Now, good-bye ... I spoke. ..."

"Stay!" I shrieked, "I must reply you,
Stay"—and I awoke. ...

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