Lot’s Wife by Anna Akhmatova

And the just man trailed God’s messenger,

His huge, light shape devoured the black hill.

But uneasiness shadowed his wife and spoke to her:

‘it’s not too late, you can look back still

 

At the red towers of Sodom, the place that bore you,

The square in which you sang, the spinning-shed,

At the empty windows of that upper storey

Where children blessed your happy marriage-bed.’

 

Her eyes that were still turning when a bolt

Of pain shot through them, were instantly blind;

Her body turned into transparent salt,

And her swift legs were rooted to the ground.

 

Who mourns one woman in a holocaust?

Surely her death has no significance?

Yet in my heart she never will be lost,

She who gave up her life to steal one glance.

 

– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1922-1924)

– from Anno Domini MCMXXI translation by D. M. Thomas

Rachel by Anna Akhmatova

A man met Rachel, in a valley. Jacob

Bowed courteously, this wanderer far from home.

Flocks, raising the hot dust, could not slake their

Thirst. The well was blocked with a huge stone.

Jacob wrenched the stone from the well

Of pure water, and the flocks drank their fill.

 

But the heart in his breast began to grieve,

It ached like an open wound.

He agreed that in Laban’s fields he should serve

Seven years to win the maiden’s hand.

For you, Rachel! Seven years in his eyes

No more than seven dazzling days.

 

But silver-loving Laban lives

In a web of cunning, and is unknown to grace.

He thinks: every deceit forgives

Itself to the glory of Laban’s house.

And he led Leah firmly to the tent

Where Jacob took her, blind and innocent.

 

Night drops from on high over the plains,

The cool dews pour,

And the youngest daughter of Laban groans,

Tearing the thick braids of her hair.

She curses her sister and reviles God, and

Begs the Angel of Death to descend.

 

And Jacob dreams the hour of paradise:

In the valley the clear spring,

The joyful look in Rachel’s eyes,

And her voice like a bird’s song.

Jacob, was it you who kissed me, loved

Me, and called me your black dove?

 

– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1921)

– from Anno Domini MCMXXI translation by D. M. Thomas

‘To Earthly Solace…’ by Anna Akhmatova

To earthly solace, heart, be not a prey,

To wife and home do not attach yourself,

Take the bread out of your child’s mouth,

And to a stranger give the bread away.

Become the humblest servant to the man

Who was your blackest enemy,

Call by your brother’s name the forest wolf,

And do not ask God for anything.

 

– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1922)

– from Anno Domini MCMXXI translation by D. M. Thomas

Abou Ben Adhem by Leigh Hunt

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)

Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,

And saw, within the moonlight in his room,

Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,

An angel writing in a book of gold:—

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,

And to the presence in the room he said,

“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,

And with a look made of all sweet accord,

Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”

“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”

Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,

But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,

Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night

It came again with a great wakening light,

And showed the names whom love of God had blest,

And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

 

by Leigh Hunt (1784 – 1859)

Where Is Your God Now?

I was once asked ‘Where is your God now?’

I could not answer.

Millennia ago homunculi had been forged from horse shit and spilt seeds. Those that had formed like stalactites became known as men while those that had formed as geodes became known as women. Each an incomplete being. Each requiring the other to perpetuate their mutual existence. Each mixing their elemental stone mass to create metamorphic rocks, an amalgam, transformed forever never to return to their original state.

In time the homunculi, believing themselves above the natural order, sought out the fruit of knowledge so as to complete themselves and be equal to their creator. Imbibing it they came to understand the azoth the animating spirit hidden in all matter that makes transmutation possible, but in doing so were themselves locked into a single form forever.

In time God grew weary of the people and turned them to pillars of salt upon the baked earth. He flooded the world and thus the seas laden with their undrinkable waters were created. Other Gods rose from seas of frothing milk and in time were but personas of some greater beings which could not be conceived save though explaining what they were not rather than what they were. Others say that all things were but flakes of skin and detritus from a giant who is the universe complete in one being. His dandruff the people. His veins the rivers. His breathe the winds. The sun and moon his eyes.

Others yet say that the queen of the black lake cast her pale sister amongst the stars but was too weak to exile her completely. Thus comes the waxen moon mocking the earth every night when the queen dreams only of slumber yet is unsettled by her sister’s reflected glory.

Some were both of the earth and return to the earth and consider life to be but a terrible punishment to be tolerated until that return to dust. The Gods not so much deities but cruel, ennui afflicted, ubermensche who toy with their inferiors to try and forget their own inadequacy.

A growing number consider there to be no God save logic. And in logic they find their deaths. To become tools, a single tooth in the never ending cogs of the universal machine, to have purpose but no greater value. One day the universe will fade out or just pull the plug and there will be no backup to restore.

Perhaps God killed himself two thousand years ago when he became flesh realising the futility of what her had bourn into creation and seeking release from his burden. Others would say only an aspect of the one true God died. Others again would argue that this form was but a shadow, created by God, trying to explain his logic as a scientist, raising chicks from the egg, would use a sock puppet. Humanity cannot understand the divine. Prophets come and go saying they know the true word of God. Could a single cell life form like an amoeba contemplate the office politics of a multi-national’s CEO having an affair with his foreign national subordinate wherein, while caressing each other in the post coital chill, they decide the budget cuts which will affect those lower tiered staff who chose to dedicate their careers to working hard, yet blindly, to the reality of humanity’s selfish genes and this coupling’s infidelity? Of course not – nor can a single, flawed, being understand everything that their multi-faceted creator thinks or believes before, during or after their existance.

Where is your God now?

Beyond your reach. Beyond your understanding. Beyond thought, wisdom, logic and emotion. Beyond fire, water, wind and earth. Beyond all things and existing within all things. In the things that exist and the things that do not exist. In between the cracks of reality and the gulfs of the imagination. Where there is both light and dark and where there is neither yet both simultaneously exist. Where you think God is and where you do not realise where God is. Where it has always been and always will be.

Do not even question where you God is now…

No one can answer.


Another off the cuff vignette to keep things ticking over. No editting. No real focus. Just an experiment in writing. So there are a few made up creation myths and a few actual ones in there. The divine is beyond our understanding in whatever form you wish to believe in it in. Some wait for the end times. Some think it has already passed. Scientists believe that the Higgs-Boson will reveal all the answers to life, the universe and everything. The answer is 42. It is all beyond our understanding.

Prospero:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158