Nachum: Spring Songs

translated from the Hebrew by Emma Lazarus


Now the dreary winter’s over, 
    Fled with him are grief and pain, 
When the trees their bloom recover, 
    Then the soul is born again. 

Spikenard blossoms shaking, 
    Perfume all the air,
And in bud and flower breaking, 
    Stands my garden fair. 
While with swelling gladness blest, 
Heaves my friend’s rejoicing breast. 
Oh, come home, lost friend of mine. 
Scared from out my tent and land. 
    Drink from me the spicy wine, 
    Milk and must from out my hand. 

Cares which hovered round my brow, 
Vanish, while the garden now
Girds itself with myrtle hedges, 
               Bright-hued edges 
               Round it lie. 
All my sorrows die. 
See the breathing myrrh-trees blow, 
    Aromatic airs enfold me. 
While the splendor and the glow 
    Of the walnut-branches hold me. 

And a balsam-breath is flowing, 
    Through the leafy shadows green, 
On the left the cassia’s growing,
    On the right the aloe’s seen. 
Lo, the clear cup crystalline, 
    In itself a gem of art, 
Ruby-red foams up with wine, 
Sparking rich with froth and bubble. 
I forget the want and trouble, 
          Buried deep within  my heart. 

Where is he who lingered here, 
But a little while agone? 
From my homestead he has flown, 
From the city sped alone, 
Dwelling in the forest drear. 
Oh come again, to those who wait thee long,
And who will greet thee with a choral song! 
Beloved, kindle bright 
Once more thine everlasting light. 
Through three, oh cherub with protecting wings, 
My glory out of darkness springs. 


Crocus and spikenard blossom on my lawn, 
The brier fades, the thistle is withdrawn.
Behold, where glass-clear brooks are flowing, 
The splendor of the myrtle blowing! 
The garden-tree has doffed her widow’s veil,
And shines in festal garb, in verdue pale.
       The turtle-dove is cooing, hark! 
       Is that the warble of the lark!
Unto their perches they return again. 
Oh brothers, carol forth your joyous strain, 
Pour out full-throated ecstasy of mirth, 
Proclaiming the Lord’s glory to the earth. 
       One with a low, sweet song, 
       One echoing loud and long, 
Chanting the music of a spirit strong. 

In varied tins the landscape glows. 
In rich array appears the rose. 
While the pomegranate’s wreath of green,
The gauzy red and snow-white blossoms screen. 
Who loves it, now rejoices for its sake,
And those are glad who sleep, and those who wake. 
When cool-breathed evening visiteth the world, 
In flower and leaf the beaded dew is pearled, 
       Reviving all that droops at length, 
       and to the languid giving strength. 

Now in the east the shining light behold! 
The sun has oped a lustrous path of gold. 
Within my narrow garden’s greenery, 
Short forth a branch, sprang to a splendid tree, 
Then in mine ear the joyous words did ring,
“From Jesse’s root a verdant branch shall spring.”
My Friend has cast His eyes upon my grief, 
According to His mercy, sends relief. 
Hark! the redemption hour’s resounding stroke, 
For him who bore with patient heart the yoke! 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 4, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.