Son of pioneering parents, pilgrims in a promised land,
Scion of an ancient people steeled by struggle to withstand
Tyrants' fruitless efforts to efface its trust in truth;
Heir to Israel's faith in freedom, battling slavery from youth,
Child of a prophetic nation, preaching justice, hatred's ban,
Lincoln-like in face and fervor, mindful of his fellow man;
Kentucky-born, Harvard taught, trained to find the slightest flaw
Vigorous in quest for right, he found his future in the Law.
People's lawyer, legal statesman, fighting fallacy with fact,
Dauntless spirit, armed with figures, mathematically exact;
Lifting economic bondage up from power's crushing heel,
Foe of bigness and corruption, champion of the public weal,
Daring to expose the crimes of predatory wealth and might,
Through briefs condensed from life itself with penetrating legal light;
State and Nation saw his torch blazing for the people's good,
Broad his vision for the future: democracy and brotherhood.
People's Justice, liberal jurist, gearing thought to social change,
Sweeping cobwebs, gray inertia, giving law dynamic range;
The Court became a new arena, battleground of liberty,
And Law, like science, found its roots in “logic of reality”;
Pragmatist, he used the tools of thoughts not merely fugitive,
“Moral teacher,” winged with wisdom, making social justice live;
Dissenting words -- with Holmes, Cardozo -- in flaming faith the future told:
“If we would guide by light of reason, we must let our minds be bold!”
Ghetto walls and Israel's suffering filled him with the will to lead
Homeless children back to homeland, out of wandering thralldom freed,
With Maccabean strength in building sanctuary from the night,
Culture's haven, Zion's refuge, not on sufferance but of right;
Seeding sand-dunes, flowering deserts, life revived in sterile soil,
Hallow his immortal name in land redeemed with patient toil.
Four score years and four were his, with “happy words to lift the heart”;
His life has left all mankind rich with guide-posts for the morrow's chart.
Lewis H. Weinstein