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Rachel the Poetress

Updated on January 9, 2011

This Sounds Familiar

 My husband called me to his office to read something on his computer.  I didn't ask what and he didn't tell me.  I stood by his desk and began to read his computer...

"From Up High, the world is seen green

and the moutain tops are white.

I already know after those 2 lines why he called me over.  "Hey, thats that Bette Midler song, From A Distance, but the words are different.  What is this?"

"It's a Poem by a great Israeli Poetress, see" He points to the screen "Rachel Bluwstein"

"I don't understand, I didn't know about this poem, they never mentioned her" I recalled a show where the writer and Bette Midler discussed the song and did not recall their ever mentioning that it was based on someone else's poem.  I read the entire thing.

"From up high, the world is seen green

the tops of mountains are white

From up high, the deep river is seen

and the flight of eagles

From up high, a clear harmony rises

echoes throughout the world.

It's a voice of hope,

it's a voice of peace,

it's the voice of every person.

From up high, there's no poverty or lacking,

and there's no cry of the starving

from up high, no one freezes from the cold,

and there's no need for abundance.

From up high, we're all each other

on the face of the wide Earth

playing songs of peace,

playing songs of hope,

the song of every person.

god is watching (us)

God is watching (us)staring at us

from up high.

From up high, you look like my friend,

even though we're at war

from up high, no I don't have all explanations

how we're not completing (it).

From up high, a clar harmony rises

echoes throughout the world.

It's a transparent song,

it's a great hope

from the heart of every person.

God is watching (us).



Who Was Rachel the Poetress?

In Israel, everyone knows who Rachel is, in fact they don't even have to use her last name. She settled there in 1909, well in Palestine. She was born in Russia in 1890 to wealthy and comfortable parents. At the time she settled in Palestine she was orginally just "passing through" Israel on her way to Italy. She did eventually go to Europe to study Agronomy (the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, feed, fiber, and reclamation) and drawing at the University of Toulouse. While she was there WWI broke out and she was unable to return to Palestine. Instead she went to Odessa where she worked with refugee children and contracted Tuberculosis.

When she returned to Palestine she lived on Kibbutz and is considered one of the Zionist pioneers. She spent most of her life there writing poetry in Eretz Israel. She was known to have a romantic relationship with Zalman Rubshov - object of many of her love poems. He would later become known as Zalman Shazar and was the third President of Israel.

In 1931 Rachel succumbed to the Tuberculosis. She was 40 years old. Her poetry is well known to Israeli children as it is taught to them in school.

It is known that many of Rachel's poems are set to music, particularly in Isreal. However, no matter how hard I tried or where I looked, I did not see her receive any credit for her part in the hit "From A Distance". Nowhere does it say that the song is based on the poetry of Rachel.

Julie Gold and From A Distance

If Julie Gold has ever mentioned where her inspiration for "From A Distance" came from, it has never been recorded.

"From A Distance" which won the grammy for "Song of the Year" in 1991, was recorded internationally in many different languages. It is a childrens book. It was even mass-produced in music boxes. It has been quoted in books, calendars, and greeting cards.

In other words, it was pure Gold for Julie Gold. Which is great. It's not like any royalties could have gone to long deceased Rachel or as if Rachel had any children that it could have been passed on to either. But something seems terribly wrong with the fact that millions were left with the impression that Julie Gold herself had written the song. Yes, she did write the music, and changed many of the lyrics, but clearly the inspiration came from the Rachel poem.

Don't forget Julie, God is watching you, and even from a distance he knows where this song came from.

"From A Distance"

Words and Lyrics by Julie Gold BUT Inspired by A Poem by Rachel

From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.

From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace,
it's the voice of every man.

From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.

From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They're the songs of every man.
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves,
it's the heart of every man.

It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves.
This is the song of every man.
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching.
God is watching us from a distance



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    • J. R. LaGreca profile image

      Jody R. LaGreca 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Thanks for the spiritually uplifting hub. I really enjoyed it!

    • Moonchild60 profile image

      Moonchild60 5 years ago

      By the way, forgot to mention, my husband, who is from Israel, says the last name is not Shapira and was even mentioned in this hub.

    • profile image

      AnnMarie 5 years ago

      Rachel Shapira wrote the original and was dead long before the song was done by Julie Gold. She is called Rachel the Poetress in this Hub. We are well aware that was not her last name.

    • profile image

      Noa 5 years ago

      I'm a bit late for this one, but felt the need to correct an enormous error here:

      A. The lyrics in Hebrew were written by Rachel Shapira not Rachel the Poetess.

      B. The lyrics in Hebrew are translation to the Julie Gold song, which is, in fact, the original.

      That's why you can't find any info about this issue, since there wasn't an issue in the first place :)

    • Moonchild60 profile image

      Moonchild60 6 years ago

      Hello Debbie - It is very nice to "meet" you. Thank you for your up up vote!! And thank you for your kind compliment. I hope I see you "around the hubs" again soon. AnnMarie

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      This is a wonderful hub...thank you for writing this...I love to read read these kind of hubs....I voted way up..debbie

    • Moonchild60 profile image

      Moonchild60 7 years ago

      ooowww James, how exciting to see you over here!! You are welcome. This is very upsetting. I understand what you mean, I would be incredibly hurt actually if I heard one of my poems set to music and re-arranged by someone else. They are just so personal to me. Sharing them at all is a big deal for me. It is always so nice to see you, thank you for coming by. : D

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      As a former songwriter it irks me when someone steals somebody else's work. Obviously, the poem is wonderful. I enjoyed your Hub. Thank you for the education. :-)

    • Moonchild60 profile image

      Moonchild60 7 years ago

      Hi Storytellersrus - I have seen you over there as well!! Nice to see you over here..LOL...Thank you so much for coming.

      Yes, this disturbs me and I said to my husband that Rachel's family has got to know about this, as she is regarded so highly in Israel and this song was popular there as well. Certainly they made the connection no? Did they feel there was nothing they could do about it? I am not sure. I have no idea what their names are or how I would find them. If I could I would absolutely write to them and ask them if they knew about this.

      I love this song too, but I feel very strongly that poetry is personal and someone stealing it is like stealing a part of you. You write from your heart, your soul. I don't know, I can't describe it but to say as someone who writes poetry, this would disturb me far more than someone taking my car.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      moonchild, I found you through James Watkin's hub and agree with you regarding Progressives.

      With that in mind, I hopped over to your site and what a discovery. I don't know whether to cry or begin a writing campaign. These lyrics are absolutely stolen from Rachel and it is a travesty. It is always a risk, putting poetry out there for others to plagerize, but at this level and scale, it is unbelievable to me.

      What can be done? What should be done? Could you forward this hub to some of these nieces and nephews?

      I have always loved this song...

    • Moonchild60 profile image

      Moonchild60 7 years ago

      friedwman - Interesting point. I would think it would be the nearest relative. Being both songs are well known in Israel I can't help but wonder why no one has ever brought this up. Odd indeed. Thank you for coming by and commenting Friedwman.

    • profile image

      friedwman 7 years ago

      Rahel Bluwstein had 10 brothers and sisters, so I bet that there are lots of great nieces and nephews by now, and surely somebody owns the rights to her work. I hope they see your Hub!

    • Moonchild60 profile image

      Moonchild60 7 years ago

      Hi Michael! Yes, it does and makes you wonder how many other unknown poems out there were pilfered in the same manner to become things of commercial value.

    • michael ely profile image

      michael ely 7 years ago from Scotland

      Hi Moonchild60, A great Hub. Very informative, and it certainly shows the unfairness about these things.

      Cheers. Michael.

    • Moonchild60 profile image

      Moonchild60 7 years ago

      Thanks Maggie. Yes, I was upset to have not found any credit given to Rachel. And quite frankly, shocked as well. Good to see you!!!

    • Maggie-May profile image

      Nadine M AuCoin 7 years ago from the Island of Cape Breton to the Eastern Shores near Halifax, NS

      Wow! How sneaky, how terrible is that!??? I hope that the injust is rectified. Great find!!! Keep up the good P.I. work!!!!

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      How do artists manage to get away with it? It's outrageous. Thanks for finally giving Rachel the credit she deserves.

      I recently read a fascinating article that presented convincing information that most of Shakespeare's plays were penned by a brilliant Italian Jewess named Amelia Bassano Lanier. I hope to hub about it later this year :)

    • Moonchild60 profile image

      Moonchild60 7 years ago

      Hi CP - Yes, you are correct (in everything) but also that the poem was originally written in Hebrew. And I said the same exact thing to my husband, that Ms. Gold's was more commercial. I can't tell you how shocked I was to find this out along with the fact that no one else ever brought it to light. I simply do not understand that. Thank you for coming by and commenting Christopher.

    • Christopher Price profile image

      Christopher Price 7 years ago from Vermont, USA

      Thanks to you and your husband for helping Rachel receive some long overdue credit. The first 4 lines of both her poem and the song are nearly identical, and certainly smack of plagiarism.

      Admittedly, her poem is less regular in meter and fails to rhyme, but I suspect the original may have been written in Hebrew so the translation could fail to represent the original completely.

      Ms. Gold's song is a tighter and more commercially packaged rendition, but her failure to recognize Rachel's poem is, for me, unforgivable.

      Good investigative journalism. She's busted!


    • Moonchild60 profile image

      Moonchild60 7 years ago

      Thanks Tom!! : D

    • justom profile image

      justom 7 years ago from 41042

      That's cool, you always find interesting things to write about, thanks for that.. Tom

    • Moonchild60 profile image

      Moonchild60 7 years ago

      Thank you Tom!! Yes, I read how it was first done by Nanci Griffith, thank you for mentioning it.

    • justom profile image

      justom 7 years ago from 41042

      Wow! Great hub, I know that song and in fact listened to a version by Nanci Griffith today. I'm sure a lot of folks get no credit for their words. Very interesting. Peace!! Tom


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