Alfred Edward Housman

More Poems. 2. When Israel out of Egypt Came

When Israel out of Egypt came
        Safe in the sea they trod;
By day in cloud, by night in flame,
        Went on before them God.

He brought them with a stretched out hand
        Dry-footed through the foam,
Past sword and famine, rock and sand,
        Lust and rebellion, home.

I never over Horeb heard
        The blast of advent blow;
No fire-faced prophet brought me word
        Which way behoved me go.

Ascended is the cloudy flame,
        The mount of thunder dumb;
The tokens that to Israel came,
        To me they have not come.

I see the country far away
        Where I shall never stand;
The heart goes where no footstep may
        Into the promised land.

[The realm I look upon and die
        Another man will own;
He shall attain the heaven that I
        Perish and have not known.

But I will go where they are hid
        That never were begot,
To my inheritance amid
        The nation that is not.

When mixed with me the sandstorms drift
        And nerve and thew and brain
Are ashes for the air to lift
        And lightly shower again.]

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