Miriam

Penina Moïse

1833

Amid the flexile reeds of Nile a lovely infant slept,

While over the unconscious babe his mother watched and wept,

Nor distant far another stood whose tears flowed fast and free,

’Twas Miriam the beautiful, bright star of the sea.

With breaking heart that parent bids farewell to her doomed child,

Commending to Almighty God his spirit undefiled.

The sister lingers yet to mourn o’er tyranny’s decree. 

And bitter was thy agony, fair maiden of the sea. 

The palace of the Pharaohs now sends forth a noble train, 

Thermutis comes, by Heaven led, to break her father’s chain. 

And who is that homage yields upon her bended knee? 

It is the graceful Miriam, the brightener of the sea. 

Trembling she rose and timid stood upon the water’s edge, 

When lo! the princess marks the boy slumbering amid the sedge. 

A fairy ark and foundling too? ’Tis Fortune’s gift to me,

Joy to the heart of Miriam, the fair star of the sea. 

A nurse for this deserted babe, cried Pharaoh’s gentle daughter, 

Whose name, my nymphs, shall Moses be, thus rescued from the water. 

A woman of the stranger’s race I’ll quickly bring to thee. 

Said the delighted Miriam, the day-star of the sea. 

She turned aside, nor tarried long, for soon her infant brother, 

On the familiar bosom lay of his own Hebrew mother, 

And bounding onward by her side, full of triumphant glee, 

Went Miriam the beautiful, the bright star of the sea. 

Time fleets—the child, to manhood reared, has left his proud abode, 

And royalty’s bold protegé has broken Egypt’s rod.

The oracle of Israel has set his nation free! 

Then sung melodious Miriam, enlightener of the sea. 

But why hast thou at Hazeroth thy timbrel cast aside, 

And dared to lift thy voice against the legislator’s bride? 

For this shalt thou be smitten, till thy brother’s prayer for thee 

Restores again thy loveliness, rash lady of the sea. 

A wail is in the wilderness, a deep and solemn wail, 

The prophetess who soared beyond mortality’s dark pale, 

Has to the spirit’s promised land departed pure and free. 

Farewell, inspired Miriam, thou lost star of the sea!

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