Monday, February 15, 2010


(Taking stock of the events that led to his day in and out of court)

Shylock, I said to myself, three thousand ducats
And Antonio bound … bound … bound to my bond
And my oath. For what are three thousand ducats
For a pound of stinking Christian flesh?
A mere pittance to feed my gaping hatred
Of this pig who has mocked me and my race.
Yes, a pound of flesh to feed the dogs with,
For he called me dog – and dogs have more
Charity than these uncircumcised philistines.
Well, sure I am these hypocrites, who stuff
Their stomachs with pork, shrimp, and crab meat –
Dainties their Jewish saviour, the Nazarite,
Would, at their sight, nauseate – will not, and cannot
Be saved, neither through grace, nor through mercy.
For just as impure thoughts defile the mind,
So does unclean food defile the body.
Work, thrift, and good planning made me rich,
Whereas these spendthrift fools squander their cash
On liquor, and take risks beyond their means.
Insecure in their false, ill-founded faith,
They’ve made us, Hebrews, the butt of their jokes.
Yet we’ve managed to stand the tests of time,
Which steadfastness they brand stubbornness.
But this legal pundit turned out to be
A legal impostor – a Doctor of Lies --
No, not a Daniel. A fox in sheep’s skin –
Portia, by name. First, she expounded on
The quality of mercy, then pounded me
With merciless abuse, stripping me naked.
First, a Christian sermon, then a lynching.
Love, not Law, they claim; but what love is this?
I would rather have justice than this love.
They have neither faith, nor works, to speak of.
This Antonio spits on my Jewish gabardine,
And I, a resident alien in Venice,
Subject to their biased and cruel laws.
Yet, Moses, our blessed Lawgiver, shielded
All aliens against envy and malice.
So I am now a Christian – ha! ha! ha!
Behold, the conversion of the Jews is at hand!
Stocks and stones will be in demand – and so will pork.
Oh, how these pigs have profaned our Scripture
With their grand, immaculate deception,
And a new testament of lawful licence!
They violate the very First Commandment
With the graven image of their false god --
To which they bend their knees in idol worship --
And, with that, all the other commandments.
Even our Sabbath is made a wash-day.
Ah, what a fool I was to seek revenge!
My deeds upon my foolish head, indeed!
And now, my daughter’s gone, my home, my wealth,
And I am forced into their sham religion.
Yet I’ll bear the burden of apostasy --
For show only. So be it. I’m content.
I have surrendered my wealth, not my faith –
I remain a Hebrew, true to my tribe.
To synagogue, then, to seek prompt relief.
My sins I’ll repent and, like Job, to pray:
The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away.

Victor Sasson

(May-June 2005)

Copyright © 2005 by Victor Sasson
All Rights Reserved