‘Tis a fearful thing

By Rabbi Chaim Stern

‘Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.

A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –

to be,
And oh, to lose.

A thing for fools, this,

And a holy thing,

a holy thing
to love.

For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.

To remember this brings painful joy.

‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing, to love
what death has touched.

Excerpt from the Mini-Series “Godless” – Pastor Garret Moore reading the poem.

Casey Gauntt claims that many mistakenly attribute the poem to Yehuda Halevi (d.1141), and that it was in fact written in the 20th century by Rabbi Chaim Stern (1930-2001) of Brooklyn, New York.

Keith Wilson claims that Rabby Chaim Stern translated an original poem by Yehuda Halevi.

So I am unsure who the original poem is written by. Here is an entire poetry podcast on the poem.

Back to Poetry