By Miriam Newell Biskin
Once there lived a king of everlasting fame;
Ahasuerus was his name.
A warrior brave, with conquest bold,
He brought home jewels and wealth untold.
Strong and handsome, a man of pride,
He took Vashti as his Queen and bride.
But she spurned his love on every hand,
And shamed him throughout the Persian land.
Until in anger, he, shouted, "Get thee from me,
This is my order---my kingly decree."
And to his counselors, he cried aloud,
"Get me a damsel, not so proud,
Beauteous of face and heart and mind,
Forever fair, forever kind."
So maidens were brought from many lands,
From across green seas and golden the sands.
But not one was pleasing to the mighty king,
Not one to give his heart and ring.
But then came a dark-eyed Jewish maid,
Soft of face and manner staid;
Gentle and sweet as the myrtle flower,
With only beauty as her dower.
But she won the heart of the mighty king
And to him she was wont to bring
Happiness in each small hand,
And there was joy throughout the land.
But Esther's heart felt little gladness,
For her people's plight filled her with sadness,
As she prayed that some day they could all go free
To return to their homeland across the sea.
In the meantime, in places where he could see and hear
Her Uncle Mordecai was near,
Waiting like a sentry at the palace gate
Always watchful of his dear niece's fate,
This child he had raised as his very own
From the time she was a babe, left all alone.
So it was, he heard a pair of assassins discuss
An horrendous plan to murder Ahasuerus.
Off he hurried to warn this girl,
The kings' new and cherished wife
So she could sound the warning,
To save her husband's life.
Thus, the traitors did not live to draw another breath,
Hung immediately for plotting their sovereign's death.
But before there was even a moment, a time for all to rejoice,
Old Mordecai brought to Esther news of another voice.
Said he, "There is a man here in the noble throng
One who plots late and long
One who hopes to wrong the Jews
One who plans some evil ruse.
Already he concocts all kinds of lies
Stories mean to vilify
The Jews--pouring slander into the king's ears
Magnifying doubts and terrible fears."
"But, Uncle," said Esther, "What is you want of me?'
"My child," said he, "Only you can make our plea.
Convince him that this calumny is a dreadful lie,
So that none of your people will have to die."
"But," she said, "I must wait until the King sends for me,
Even a Queen cannot call upon His Majesty."
"My child," said Mordecai, "Haman's orders will be carried out
Time is a luxury we do not possess;
He has ordered the slaughter of the Jews without delay
On the twelfth month, the thirteenth day."
"Then, pray for me, uncle, duty says I must comply:
I will go to my royal husband even if I die."
For thee days, Esther fasted and prayed
That this horror would be stayed;
Then Esther, the Queen, donned her royal robes
To seek an audience with the king,
Who smiled and said, "I will grant any wish of thine... "
She replied, "Sire, bring your minister Haman and come to dine."
"What an honor," Haman confided to his wife,
Still planning the end of Mordecai's life.
Ordering a gallows seventy-five feet high
Blotting out even the sunshine in the sky.
Then the King recalled that in a day just gone by
His life had been saved by old Mordecai.
"We have done little to repay this man," he said to the assembled throng,
"Then certainly now , we must right this wrong."
He then called Haman and put the question thus,
"How do we honor a man who has done good things for us?"
Haman could not dream that anything was amiss,
And replied with eager emphasis,
"Give him royal robes and a royal crown and a steed for him to ride
As he moves about the country right by your majesty's side."
"Then take the robe and the crown and the steed
To Mordecai...for I have decreed he be rewarded for his noble deed."
Still bitter, Haman did not dream that any thing was amiss
As he was forced to honor his nemesis.
He still dreamed of being blessed by the King
With power and glory and everything:
But when they gathered at Esther's table to eat and dine,
She bowed in supplication, "Sire, please answer a puzzle of mine."
"You may ask of me anything you wish, my dearest wife,
You may half my kingdom, even my life."
"My lord," she cried, "What if a man in whom you put trust
Should bear false witness --what is just? "
He stared down at her tearful face,
"This, my child, would be a complete disgrace..
Who would do such a heinous thing ?"
"And, Sire, much to your everlasting shame,
Haman orders death for my people in your name."
The orders flew fast and to Haman it was clear,
That the treachery was out, and his end was near.
And soon he was hanged from that gallows, seventy-five feet high,
That he had built for old Mordecai.
And all through Persia, as they heard the news,
There was fasting and feasting for all Jews
Marking that fourteenth of Adar as a festive holiday
A time to rejoice with wine and song in every way.
from the March 2001 Edition Jewish Magazine