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by James Vasquez
The year Uzziah died I saw,
Exalted on a throne,
The Lord, uplifted and his train,
Did all the temple own.
And seraphs hovered round the Lord,
And filled the temple, too,
With wings they covered face and feet,
With twain they swiftly flew.
They called to one another as,
Their orbed flights they pursued,
A hallowed, singular refrain,
"Now holy, holy, holy is,
The Lord whose glory fills,
From end to end the earth, its seas,
Its mountains and its hills."
And at their voice the thresholds shook,
The temple to its base,
While door-posts trembled on their stands,
And smoke filled all the place.
And in my fright at visions such,
As I had never known,
I called aloud most desperately,
For all my sin was shown.
Yes, I beheld in that great light,
The glory of the Lord,
And brightly it exposed my life,
And every sin deplored.
"Now woe to me for I am ruined,
Undone for all my sin,
A man of unclean lips am I,
Midst unclean friends and kin.
"My eyes have seen, my ears have heard,
And scarce to life I cling,
For I in truth this day beheld,
The face of God the King."
But kindly then, a coal was pressed,
Red, glowing from the fire,
Which there upon the altar burned,
Appeasing holy ire,
Upon my lips by seraph sent,
From him who sat enthroned,
For he my guilt had now removed,
And for my sin atoned.
Then once again, nay, so much more,
The temple shook throughout,
And dumb were tongues of seraphs as,
The voice of God rang out.
"Now is there man who for our right,
Will go for us today?
And whom will I now find mongst men,
To send him on my way?"
"Great God, send me for here am I,"
I hurriedly then said,
I scarce before that glory dared,
Another word instead.
"Then go and to my people say,"
The Lord replied to me,
"With eyes to see and ears to hear,
In dullness ever be.
"And hardened shall their hearts remain,
Their eyes and ears e’er sealed,
Lest with an understanding heart,
They turn and then are healed."
"How long, O Lord?" I then implored,
And felt for Israel’s plight,
"Till cities lie all desolate,
And fields scourged with blight,
"Till houses stand deserted and,
To distant lands are sent,
For all their sins my people there,
To raise their sad lament.
"A tenth yet shall remain at home,
To suffer further waste,
Yet as a stump this holy seed,
By God will be embraced."
I pondered much on what this meant,
This charge he gave to me,
The devastation, exile, stump,
And what their ends might be.
And from that day I’ve faltered not,
In speaking what I heard,
That Israel might with open ears,
Admit his certain word.
from the November 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine