• Moses (Part 4)


    Continued from last week

    beyond the sky then since the moon is dead. deeper to where abides
    water in her deepest absence cradling the seas. farther where the word assumes
    transparence and the earth with the human voice
    unhusked, unshadowed, no longer seeks
    the grimy density of echoes, the weighty pause: god of the sky
    beyond the sky, god of the waters beyond the oceans,
    god of the word in the deepest silence—somewhere nowhere
    where the stars begin, where light uncloses like a flower of night
    where light is darkness and darkness light, where time is an instant
    and the instant endless, there if i am to find my lost self
    must i seek a god…sheol is the world and in sheol
    there are only men and false gods. to see the true god,
    if he exists, is to die. across the wound that gapes,
    from my blood to my blood, i know you, unknowable!
    across the painful chasms, from my word to my word,
    i speak your name, unnameable! everywhere and nowhere,
    in my heart’s nothingness, i find you, most hidden, most withdrawn!
    by my lack infinite, i reach you, farthest one!
    you have but to speak to me, and i am! speak!
    pierce my nothingness with your shafts of being!
    deign but to whisper my tenuous name! even just its shadow,
    its shadow’s shadow! draw me out of sheol, of death!
    call me, “moses”, “son”! you have but to speak to me,
    and i am!…
    “moses, moses!”
    “here am i!”
    “do not come near;
    put off your shoes from your feet,
    for the place on which you are standing
    is holy ground. i have seen
    the affliction of my people
    who are in egypt,
    and have heard their cry
    because of their taskmasters;
    i know their sufferings
    and i have come down to deliver them
    out of the hands of the egyptians;
    and to bring them up out of that land
    to a good and broad land,
    a land flowing with milk and honey…
    come, i will send you to pharaoh,
    and bring the sons of Israel
    out of egypt…”
    “who am i
    that i should go to pharaoh,
    and bring the sons of israel
    out of egypt?”
    “but i will be with you;
    and this shall be the sign for you,
    that i have sent you:
    when you have brought forth the people out of egypt
    you shall serve god upon this mountain.”
    “if i come to the people of israel and say to them,
    ‘the god of your fathers has sent me to you,’
    and they ask me, ‘what is his name?’
    what am i to say to them?
    “i am who am.
    say this to the people of israel,
    ‘I AM has sent me to you’.
    say this to the people of israel
    ‘the lord, the god of your fathers,
    the god of abraham, the god of isaac,
    and the god of jacob,
    has sent me to you’: this is my name forever,
    and thus am i to be remembered
    throughout all generations.”
    “I AM WHO AM” and “moses” is nothing
    beside the merest shadow of that name…
    god of the fathers, infinite alphabet,
    god who healed the wounds of my blood.
    god of the fathers, three-lettered abyss
    where from your lips of pure destruction
    do I locate my naked name?
    god of the purple sky, infinite glance,
    god who restored the stars to their light.
    god of the fathers, three-lettered absence
    where in your pure deluge of being
    stand precarious my nothingness?
    god of the pure sea, murmur of salt,
    shore of my tears, anchorage of light.
    god of the fathers, three lettered presence,
    where in your blinding flood of pure light
    do i locate my slender gaze?
    god of the pure earth, infinite shadow,
    shadow of pure light, original point.
    god of the fathers, abyss-crested word,
    where in your pure stream of silence
    do i locate my raucous song?
    you have addressed me lord, and i am.
    you have judged me worthy of the covenant, and i am.
    fierce unrelenting cry of the desert i am.
    and in my desert nothingness, in the sand’s burning crest,
    in the manes of the wind i am.
    …and, but, is it really you, are you really there,
    that has addressed me, or merely myself
    addressing myself…? and how can i be if you are,
    since, if i am—and i AM—then you cannot be
    that dreamt-of beyond but a mere godling
    like the sun or the sea or the nile, or, indeed, myself…and thus,
    myself?… for if you created me, then must we not be,
    at least by that one thread the same by which
    you were able thus to create me? and thus by that one thread
    less than the god who is no mere godling?
    and thus mere godling? and thus nothing, only
    myself?…myself and myself self-contradicting
    myself in a self-contradictory dream?…

    {iv} Combat with God
    did i not know the stings of flesh
    the shuddering loins in the dark sweet nest
    the tears, the tears, in the quivering rain
    the secret mirror in my deepest grief
    the bite of envy in the plum of courage
    the share of pride in the youthful justice
    that made me snatch the crown of princes
    and install it upon my brilliant head
    and the burning coal i was forced to choose
    to hide in the child the premature beauty
    the robust grandeur of a poet’s soul
    that teased with death in that usurpation
    the coal that glared like a rabid sun
    in my secret eyes in my hidden heart
    the crimson coal that growled like a lion
    the terrible word with its manes of fire
    leashed in my tongue that sizzles still
    with boundless hatred of masters and tyrants
    did i not cry in my mother’s arms at parting
    To be continued…
    did i not harbour in my guts the fear
    like a thousand noisome needles i did not want affirmed
    by fleeing to the desert the greater to be brave?
    did i not feed with imagined blood
    with egyptian wailings with pharaoh’s head
    severed with the pure knife of my lucid hate
    and my lightning anger the eyes still open
    the ravenous tiger that in my dreams avenged
    daily my trodden blood? did i not with myself
    and the desert feast, raising many a cup of wine abrim
    with empty speeches of our common glory,
    our brilliant sadness? could i have forgotten?, no,
    i have not forgotten the red face of that hour
    at play with the crown prince i wanted to pluck out
    those jaded royal eyes that they might know the dust
    when down i rolled them like a new set of toys?
    did i not recall still that many times, awake and dreaming,
    the dark had convinced me i must be a god
    i would have forgotten the hardest task of all
    tonight, which is that of being a man
    and a man sworn to free my exploited people
    by bringing them to the mount of light
    it was the lord’s demon come to tempt me
    it was god’s dark face come to shatter mine
    that i might not forget i was a man…
    it was myself who adored the stone
    it was myself who refused the covenant
    it was myself who wanted to be master
    and would go back to egypt to fulfill a dream
    of another sheol that with me as king
    would fetter god anew by feterring man…
    it was another of my many deaths
    it was the circumcision of my soul
    it was my tongue singed by a thunderbolt
    it was the last step in that arduous ascent
    to the glimmering peaks of the word…
    it was a fight to the death with the old god
    that was yahweh’s another face…
    it was another of my many births
    it was a wrestling with the great night
    a burning argument with the essence of fire
    a nightlong reminder from the dread abyss
    that the gods are dead and the ultimate goal
    is the freedom of man under god…
    it was the last stand of the granite
    the final rebellion of the rippling nile
    with longing eyes that wrenched my heart
    with desperate cries that ripped my blood
    that only healed with the touch of light
    of the lilyfingered dawn…
    it was my eyes suspended for a whole night
    between the stars and the abyss…
    it was the stars come to tempt me,
    it was the stars invading my tent
    to drive away the infinite darkness
    which is the infinite light…it was
    my right arm to the earth yet sworn
    and my left already to the unseen light…
    it was the earth a maiden moaning
    wet with her juices trembling with love
    pleading her white arcs her undulations
    and i a jacob rode the hills to the moon
    that would they were my sole delight…
    it was the lord horned like a demon
    it was god’s dark hand come to gouge my eyes
    that i might not forget i was a man
    and a man sworn already to free my people
    by bringing them to the mount of light
    lord i have killed the demon you sent me
    and have dashed the stars on the ground of your word
    the last that pursued me from the wide calendar
    as the dawn scatters the dark face of the night
    my word is purer, let us renew the pact…
    i will go to egypt to free my people, your people,
    and you will be with us.
    we will blot out from the face of the earth
    the memory of gods
    and you will be with us.
    we will erase from the seas and lands of your creation
    the memory of kings and masters
    and you will be with us.
    no man again shall be master to man,
    and you will be with us.
    each will work and rule the land
    and you will be with us.
    i will be with them as far as the abyss
    that will gape between me and my memory
    and you with us.
    be with me now lord, i am off
    to start the revolution…

    To be continued…


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