Bohemian legends and other poems/Simon Abeles

SIMON ABELES.[*]

Here in this grave a little martyr lies—
A little boy who counted but ten years,
Killed by his father in a moment dread.
This Jewish child amidst the Christian dead,
Was carried by all Prague with groans and sighs,
In the Týn Minster amidst many tears.

Killed by his father! ’Tis an awful thought—
This Jewish boy had dared to be baptized,
Had dared to tell his father of his hope,
And bid defiance to the whip and rope
He knew would wait him for the faith he sought,
The faith that by his fathers was despised.

Oft when they drove him forth to earn his bread,
In the Týn Minster he had stood and heard
The gracious message of our blessed Lord,
And he in silence stood there and adored.
At length one day a Jesuit priest had said,
What brings thee here to listen to the Word?”

And then the Jewish boy his heart outpoured,
Told of the love he felt for Him who died,
And how he yearned to come within that fold
Of perfect peace of which the priest had told.
The monk then told him, from his mind well stored,
Things of the faith, for which the poor boy sighed.

And so they met and conversed many days,
Until the priest said one morn, “Come, my son,
I will baptize thee, since it is thy will,
But thou must come and see me often still.”
My father,” said the child, “you know God’s ways,
There must be struggle, ere the crown be won.”

Come live with us, my child,” the monk replied,
If aught you dread before your father’s wrath.”
My heart misgives me,” said the boy. “I fear,
I know not what—ah, well, the Lord is near.”
And so they parted, and the poor boy sighed,
While the monk watched him going down the path.

Three days went by the boy was seen no more—
Then the priests sought him, and they found him dead;
Killed by his father in a moment wild,
There on his bed they found the bleeding child,
With marks of many sufferings that he bore,
Before his childish spirit to Christ fled.

They hung his father. But the martyred boy
With solemn pomp they bore to his last rest.
By the high altar amidst chanting sad,
And grief of the vast multitude, the lad
Was buried, while they prayed that heaven’s joy
Might be his own, who died a martyr blessed.

 

^ * Simon Abeles, a Jewish boy, was killed by his own father, because he turned Christian, the 21st of February, 1694. He was buried with great pomp as a martyr, in a glass coffin, on the right side of the altar in the Týn Minster in Prague.—Chronik von Böhmen, 1854.