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About this poet

Philip M. Raskin was born on December 24, 1880, in Shklov, Russia, and received his education in secular studies and Hebrew studies in Russia, Switzerland, and England before working as a staff member of the Health Department of the City of Leeds in Yorkshire, England. In 1914, he published his first poetry collection, Songs of a Jew (George Routledge & Sons), and the following year, he immigrated to the United States. Raskin authored several more volumes of poetry in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish in both England and America, and in 1927, he edited and introduced Anthology of Modern Jewish Poetry (Behrman’s Jewish Book Shop, 1927). He died on February 6, 1944, in New York.


Selected Bibliography

Lanterns in the Wind (C. L. Tumasel, 1937)
When a Soul Sings (Thomas Seltzer, 1922)
Songs and Dreams (The Stratford Co., 1920)
Songs of a Wanderer (The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1917)
Songs of a Jew (George Routledge & Sons, 1914)


 

Hanukkah Lights

I kindled my eight little candles,
     My Hanukkah candles, and lo!
Fair visions and dreams half-forgotten
     Were rising of years long ago.

I musingly gazed at my candles;
     Meseemed in their quivering flames
In golden, in fiery letters
     I read the old, glorious names;

The names of our heroes immortal,
     The noble, the brave, and the true;
A battlefield saw I in vision,
     Where many were conquered by few;

And mute lay the Syrian army,
     Judea’s proud foe, in the field;
And Judas, the brave Maccabaeus,
     I saw in his helmet and shield.

His eyes shone like bright stars of heaven,
     Like music resounded his voice:
“Brave comrades, we fought and we conquered,
     Now let us in God’s name rejoice!

“We conquered; but know, my brave comrades,
     No triumph is due to the sword;
Remember our motto and watchword,
     ‘For the people and towns of the Lord.’”

He spoke, and from all the four corners
     An echo repeated each word;
The woods and the mountains re-echoed:
     “For the people and towns of the Lord.”

And swiftly the message spread, calling:
     “Judea, Judea is free!
Rekindled the lamp in the Temple,
     Rekindled each bosom with glee!”

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *  

My Hanukkah candles soon flickered,
     Around me was darkness of night;
But deep in my soul I felt shining
     A heavenly, wonderful light.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Philip M. Raskin

Philip M. Raskin was born on December 24, 1880, in Shklov, Russia, and received his education in secular studies and Hebrew studies in Russia, Switzerland, and England before working as a staff member of the Health Department of the City of Leeds in Yorkshire, England. In 1914, he published his first poetry collection, Songs of a Jew (George Routledge & Sons), and the following year, he immigrated to the United States.

by this poet

poem

The Rabbi tells his old, old tale,
     The pupils seated round.
“…And thus, my boys, no holy oil
     In the Temple could be found.

The heathens left no oil to light
     The Lord’s eternal lamp;
At last one jar, one single jar,
     Was found with the high priest’s stamp.

poem

Have you heard the linnet trilling,
     To discover did you try
What is hidden in her carol—
     Does she sing or does she cry?

I am singing like the linnet,
     When my heart does pine and long;
Love, and pain, and joy, and sorrow,
     All are hidden in my song.

poem

In my youth hope hired
     In my heart a tent;
Promised me a fortune,
     Never paid her rent.

Bankrupt is my tenant—
     This I know at length—
Why then to expel her
     Do I lack the strength?