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poet

Jessie E. Sampter

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Jessie Ethel Sampter was born on March 22, 1883, in New York City. Having contracted polio as a child, Sampter spent much of her childhood confined to her bed. She was educated at home, where she read extensively, and later audited classes at Columbia University.

Sampter began writing poetry in her twenties, and her work focused on themes of Zionism, social justice, and pacifism, particularly between the Arabic and Jewish peoples. In 1919, Sampter immigrated to Palestine, where she helped establish the country’s first Jewish Scout camp and a convalescent home, as well as classes for Yemenite women and girls.

The author of several books on philosophy and religion, Sampter also published five poetry collections during her lifetime and a translation of poems for children by noted Jewish poet Hayim Nahman Bialik.

Sampter died at Kibbutz Givat Brenner, Israel, on November 11, 1938.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
Brand Plucked From the Fire (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1937)
The Emek (Bloch Publishing, 1927)
Around the Year in Rhymes for the Jewish Child (Bloch Publishing Company, 1920)
The Coming of Peace (Publishers Printing Company, 1919)
The Great Adventurer (Robert Kerr Press, 1908)

by this poet

poem

We are the People of the Book,
     The written page is our salvation;
This only from the wreck we took
     When conquerors crushed our nation.

The Holy Book has been our land,
     Our seed, our sowing and our reaping.
How can the stranger understand
     What treasure we

poem

Judah Maccabee,
Give a sword to me
     Now, in youth!
By the candle’s light
Kindled here to-night,
Do I vow to fight
     For the truth.

Still the Greeks are here,
Still we yield in fear,
Cringe and cower.
Judah Maccabee,
Make my people free
That

poem

Tell me, what is Exile’s light?
Is it candles burning bright,
Little candles in the night?

Exile’s light is this old man.
Ere the morning he began
Israel’s holy page to scan.

And he teaches from this page
Israel’s law in every age:
Exile’s light is Israel’s sage