A Jewish Family

(In a small valley opposite St. Goar, upon the Rhine)

Genius of Raphael! if thy wings
     Might bear thee to this glen,
With faithful memory left of things
     To pencil dear and pen,
Thou wouldst forego the neighbouring Rhine,
     And all his majesty—
A studious forehead to incline
     O’er this poor family.

The Mother—her thou must have seen,
     In spirit, ere she came
To dwell these rifted rocks between,
     Or found on earth a name ;
An image, too, of that sweet Boy,
     Thy inspirations give—
Of playfulness, and love, and joy,
     Predestined here to live.

Downcast, or shooting glances far,
     How beautiful his eyes,
That blend the nature of the star
     With that of summer skies !
I speak as if of sense beguiled ;
     Uncounted months are gone,
Yet am I with the Jewish Child,
     That exquisite Saint John.

I see the dark-brown curls, the brow,
     The smooth transparent skin,
Refined, as with intent to show
     The holiness within ;
The grace of parting Infancy
     By blushes yet untamed ;
Age faithful to the mother’s knee,
     Nor of her arms ashamed.

Two lovely Sisters, still and sweet
     As flowers, stand side by side ;
Their soul-subduing looks might cheat
     The Christian of his pride :
Such beauty hath the Eternal poured
     Upon them not forlorn,
Though of a lineage once abhorred,
     Nor yet redeemed from scorn.

Mysterious safeguard, that, in spite
     Of poverty and wrong,
Doth here preseve a living light,
     From Hebrew fountains sprung ;
That gives this ragged group to cast
     Around the dell a gleam
Of Palestine, of glory past,
     And proud Jerusalem!

William Wordsworth, composed 1828, published 1835.


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