Samuel ha-Nagid

The Citadel

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I stationed a strong force in a citadel
Which soldiers had destroyed long ago.
We slept there, in it, and around it,
And its owners slept beneath us, down below.
I said to myself: "Where are the people,
Those who lived here in years that have gone?
Where are the builders and destroyers, the slaves,
And their masters, the princes and the woebegone?
Where are the parents, the bereaved, the fathers,
The sons, the bridegrooms, and the mourners,
And the large numbers that were born after these,
As the seasons turned through the cycle of the years?
They were all neighbors on the face of the earth,
And now they lie together in the earth's womb.
They moved to the dust from their pleasant courts,
And from their palaces towards the tomb.
Were they to raise their heads and emerge,
They would despoil us, of our lives and possessions.
In truth, my soul, in truth, by to-morrow,
I shall be like them, and all my companions."

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Samuel ha-Nagid