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Aguilar, Grace.

Jewish Year, The. Autograph poem signed, with engraved portrait.

Manuscript/Typescript

Original Manuscript Poem
Aguilar, Grace.  The Jewish Year No. 1. [Shabbath Bereishith.] England, ca. 1838-47.  
8vo.; four leaves; ink manuscript; rectos only. Each leaf encased in plastic, boxed together in a specially made quarter-morocco slipcase.
Boxed together with:
Aguilar, Grace. Engraved Portrait.
Manuscript poem, four pages, rhymed couplets, in English with Hebrew transcription of title;  describes the Creation of the World and establishes an intimate relation between each individual Jew and his Maker. First published as one of the thirty-two poems that comprise the appendix to the posthumously published third edition of The Spirit of Judaism (Cincinnati, 1864), her best-known work, in which she takes up this sermons of Isaac Leeser. The manuscript, which varies from the published version only in punctuation, is transcribed in full:
The Jewish Year
No. 1.  
??? ??????
By Grace Aguilar
He spake; th' Almighty spake, & Earth & Heav'n
Started from chaos ne'er again to sleep,
Earth yet was void, no beauteous form was giv'n,
And darkness lay upon the mighty deep.
He spake: Let there be Light! and there was light;
E'en as He spake, the rushing torrent came,
And darkness fled before th' effulgence bright,
The sun & moon were not, 'twas Heaven's own flame.
Again He spake, & then a wide expanse
Stretched forth between the waters; azure sky
Soft, lovely, meet to bless th' admiring glance
That was to gaze, tho' yet it was not nigh.
And yet again, that Voice, and yet again.
Six times it spake-and Earth in richness clad,
Teem'd with new life, that knew nor death nor pain,
And But in the presence of its God, was glad.
[Page 2:]
And fruits, and herbs, and flow'rs, and grass, had sprung
In perfect beauty from the swelling sod,
And sun, and moon, and stars in glory hung,
Resplendant [sic], voiceless, eloquent of God.
And Earth, air, water, filled with joyous life
Each element well fitted to sustain
Its given burden, which no darkling strife
Might dash with sin, or with dull sorrows, chain.
And Man, majestic glorious man was there
The Voice creating rais'd him from the sod
And breath'd into his frame, the vital air
Which mark'd him, dearest, most beloved of God
And at His nod, this was! Let it, 'twas done,
Creation started from unbroken sleep,
And chaos Past, and darkness, gloom was gone,
And Earth was sever'd, from the soundless deep.
And still that God is ours; still oh still His pow'r
Mighty to do and mightier yet to save,
Is ever hovering o'er Life's darkest hour,
To shield, revive, sustain the souls He gave
[Page 3:]
Oh pause not! faint not-ye who seek Him not,
Him deeming all too mighty to look down,
That the small woes, and joys, which mark our lot
Are all too trifling for His smile or frown.
Hear ye His voice appealing from his word.
Unto the faint, the weary, and the worn;
"In righteousness I call thee," saith the Lord,
And I will pitying, bless the souls that mourn,
"And darkness shall be turn'd for them to light
"And straight, the crooked things, my love shall make,
"Increasing strength, to them that have no might,
"The lone heart cheering, for my great name's sake."
And shall we doubt that word, mistrust His Power?
E'en tho' our paths seem dark, and chaos wild
Enwrap the soul in misery's lonely hour,
Where never light hath shone, no flow'ret smil'd?
He who brought forth, this glorious world from space,
Will at one word, bid sorrows waves be still.
Bid glistening flow'rs the shapeless depths efface
And rushing light, chaotic darkness fill.
[Page 4:]
And as He plac'd His image on the Earth
T'adorn and bless and sweetly speak of Him,
So in each heart, His image will have birth
And breathe of joys, that never may grow dim.
Father oh lift to Thee each sorrowing heart,
Strengthen the faint, and weary to adore
Thy blissful balm, in thy deep love impart
And to fond Hope, the spiritless restore.
Oh let th' effulgence of Thy awful might,
Be lost in the still whisper of Thy love;
Let Mercy veil, Thy too resplendent light
And Pity, lift each yearning soul above.
Grace Aguilar (1816-1847) was born in London to parents of Portugues Marrano descent. Her delicate health precluded her from a formal education, so she was taught at home by her mother and learned Jewish history from her father. A precocious and prolific writer, she began writing at an early age, composing a drama at 12 and moving on to lyric poems at 14. Her first collection of poems, The Magic Wreath (1835), appeared anonymously when she was only 19. After her father died of consumption, she supported her family by publishing fiction and historical writings, many of which took Judaism as a central theme. She was often held up in the late19th and early 20th century as a positive and instructive influence; in 1880 Henry Samuel Morais devoted an entire chapter to her in Eminent Isrealites of the 19th Century, and in 1913, A.S. Isaacs envisioned a year in her youth in The Young Champion (unique copies of both appear in this catalogue).
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