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Short poem

Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)

The New Ezekiel

              1What, can these dead bones live, whose sap is dried
              2   By twenty scorching centuries of wrong?
              3Is this the House of Israel, whose pride
              4   Is as a tale that's told, an ancient song?
              5Are these ignoble relics all that live
              6   Of psalmist, priest, and prophet? Can the breath
              7Of very heaven bid these bones revive,
              8   Open the graves and clothe the ribs of death?

              9Yea, Prophesy, the Lord hath said. Again
            10   Say to the wind, Come forth and breathe afresh,
            11Even that they may live upon these slain,
            12   And bone to bone shall leap, and flesh to flesh.
            13The Spirit is not dead, proclaim the word,
            14   Where lay dead bones, a host of armed men stand!
            15I ope your graves, my people, saith the Lord,
            16   And I shall place you living in your land.


1] Cf. Ezekiel 37.1-14:

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Poems of Emma Lazarus, 2 vols. (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, and Co., 1889): II, 14-15.
First publication date: 1882
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2001
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/21

Rhyme: ababcdcd

Other poems by Emma Lazarus