p o e t r y s a m u e l  m e n a s h e



I am the man

Whose name is mud

But what’s in a name

To shame the one who knows

Mud does not stain

Clay he’s made of

Dust Adam became—

The dust he was—

Was he his name


Adam: from Adamah, ‘earth’ in Hebrew

rippling under my eyes

Bulrushes tuft the shore


At every instance I expect

what is hidden everywhere

Open your mouth

To feed that flesh

Your teeth have bled

Tongue us out

Bone by bone

Do not allow

Man to be fed

By bread alone


‘And he afflicted the and suffered thee to hunger and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not neither did thy fathers know, that He might make thee know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord does man life.’ –Deuteronomy VIII:3

Blue funnels the sun

Each unhewn stone

Every derelict stem

Engenders Jerusalem

Stone would be water

But it cannot undo

Its own hardness

Rocks might run

Wild as torrents

Plunged upon the sky

By cliffs none climb


Who makes fountains

Spring from flint

Who dares tell

One thirsting

There’s a well

The shrine whose shape I am

Has a fringe of fire

Flames skirt my skin


There is no Jerusalem but this

Breathed in flesh by shameless love

Built high upon the tides of blood

I believe the Prophets and Blake

And like David I bless myself

With all my might


I know many hills were holy once

But now in the level lands to live

Zion ground down must become marrow

Thus in my bones I am the King’s son

And through death’s domain I go

Making my own procession

As the tall, turbaned

Black, incense man

Passed the house

I called after him

And ran out to the street

Where at once we smiled

Seeing one another

And without a word

Like a sword that leaps from its lustrous sheath

He was swinging his lamp with abundant grace

To my head and to my heart and to my feet . . .

Self-imparted we swayed

Possessed by that One

Only the living praise


‘The dead do not praise Thee.’ –Psalm of David

The lilt of a slope

Under the city

Flow of the land

With streets in tow

Where houses stand

Row upon row

She bows her head

Submissive, yet

Her downcast glance

Asks the angel, “Why,

For this romance,

Do I qualify?”

Eyes open to praise

The play of light

Upon the ceiling—

While still abed raise

The roof this morning

Rejoice as you please

Your Maker who made

This day while you slept,

Who gives grace and ease,

Whose promise is kept.


‘Let them sing for joy upon their beds.’ –Psalm 149

At the edge

Of a World

Beyond my eyes


I know Exile

Is always

Green with hope—

The river

We cannot cross

Flows forever

© Samuel Menashe

From THE NICHE NARROWS, by Samuel Menashe

Talisman House, Publishers, P.O. Box 3157,

Jersey City, N.J. 07303-3157;

with permission of the author

Samuel Menashe, Six Poems, Archipelago, Vol. 5, No. 2

OTTO LUENING: No Jerusalem But This  (Peters; recording CRI)

The text of the cantata comes from two collections of Samuel Menashe's work,
The Many Named Beloved (1961) and No Jerusalem But This.




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