Literature and Poetry/
Pesach

Haim Nachman Bialik

The last dead of the desert

"Moses dies Joshua Leads in"

Haim Nachman Bialik

Arise, desert wanderers, and leave the wilderness, 
The road is long, the battles are many. 

 

Cease your rootless drifting in the wasteland,
Before you lies the great, open road. 

 

Forty years we have wandered between the mountains – 
Six hundred thousand corpses we have buried in the sand. 

 

Let not the corpses of the falterers delay us, 
They died in slavery, let us pass over them! 

 

They shall rot in their shame, sprawled over their parcels
Carried on their shoulders from Egypt. 

Let them dream pleasantly of onions, garlic, 
Huge tureens of meat. 

Today or tomorrow the wind shall share
With the vulture the corpse of the last of the slaves. 

 

And the sun shall joyfully emanate its bliss
For the first-time - shall shine upon a powerful generation.

 

And for the first-time the generation shall at first
Shout in joy towards the sun and its majestic glory.

 

Arise, therefore, wanderers! Leave the wilderness! 
But do not raise your voices, tread silently! 

 

Lest your footsteps anger the desert and its sleepers – 
Let every man hearken in his heart to the echo of his tread! 

 

Let every man hear in his heart the voice of God speak: 
"Go! Today you pass to a new land! 

 

No! Not worthless bread, quails and the fruit of the heavens 
You shall eat the bread of sorrow, the fruit of your labor! 

No, not a flyaway tent, or a heavenly loft, 
You shall build a different house, erect an altered tent!

 

For besides the desert, under the sky, 
God's world is vast and wide. 

 

And besides the howl of the desert, the silence of the void,
A beautiful land lies under the sun.

 

And on the pinnacle of Nevo across the arriving sun,
There in awesome splendor and the face of an angel of battle - 
shall stand Joshua son of Nun, whose voice will thunder
over his vast and powerful army.

 

His voice shall spring forth as a mighty arrow, with vigor,
His words shall burn as a torch, as fire`
Also, the terrible wilderness, the empty desert
Shall echo his call: "Israel, Arise and possess!"

 

And from the bottom a youthful nation free as a young lion,
A heavy camp with a multitude compared to the sand on the seashore,
Shall listen attentively with holy silence

to the thunderous voice blasting on the leaders of the people.

 

And they have already blown the horns for the journey, and
among those descended from the Nevo's peak is also the leader – 
And why does not Israel travel? 
Why do they stand with bent heads across the mountain?

 

What are they sorry about leaving in this wilderness?
Why do their eyes wander in the gulch?
Why do they weep silently and tear? 
Whom do they seek on the peak of Mt. Nevo?

 

They seek Moses, the dead Moses!
And as one man, all wakes of the nation
Suddenly bowed down to the G-dly man,
To their faithful Sheppard, the exalted one.

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