The Night Abraham Called to the Stars: Poems
Collected Poems. Over the Anvil We Stretch. Anis Mojgani. The Shape of the Journey. Jim Harrison. David Steindl-Rast. The Rain in Portugal. Billy Collins. The Apple Trees at Olema. Robert Hass. In My Heart Room. Notes on Arrival and Departure. Rachel Rose. Anthony Carelli. The Great Fires. Straight from the Heart. Mary K. Raja Sharma. Gon the Fox and Other Stories.
Nankichi Niimi. Dead Man's Float. Where the Terror Lies. Chantel Lavoie. New and Selected Poems Carl Dennis. Unknown Friends. Ulf Wolf. Hotel Insomnia. Charles Simic.
Charles Wright. Gifts from God. Kimberly G Jackson. Joy Bassetti Kruger. Visible Signs. Lawrence Raab. This World. Teddy Macker. Under the Drum. Turtle Heart. Night Mowing. Chard deNiord. The Floating Bridge. David Shumate. Debora Greger. Matthew Peel. The Book of Hours. Marianne Boruch. Heart Pages. Barbara I. The Spanish-Italian Border. The Abridged History of Rainfall. Jay Hopler. Feral Domicile.
Boyd Chubbs. Tim Lilburn. The Nine Senses. Melissa Kwasny. Dark to Light. Generations later, they unfolded into a vision that spread upon the earth, to unite all life and beings from the highest to the lowest. This was the ideal proclaimed by Moses, father of the prophets, who is portrayed in a tableau as standing perched at sunset atop a lofty peak, bearing in his arms the symbolic young male-goat of Hebrew legend, whose thirst he quenched with the sweet waters of a brook gushing forth from a rock.
The bush ignited by the flaming sun illuminated everything above it, lighting up the fringes of the sky with a red hue, which merged with the harmony of Creation. In this striking scene Moses revealed the mystery of the unity of the cosmos, which filled him with compassion and sympathy for all life and nature. But though this vision soon vanished, it yet survived in his heart.
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I sweetened the elements of my doctrines to adapt to the pallets of slaves unable to sanctify truth. Until there erupts another rebellious stream of fire. To shatter the petrified precepts and obsolescent altars. And set up a new law upon their ruins. And he shall lodge his shoulder as a prop for the stars. And shelter his head among the treasures of the Most High. This was the faith that inspired Moses in his last moments, not the expectation of a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet one cannot but assume that this idea must not be applied categorically, for later values are not necessarily superior to traditional ones.
In fact, is this not a major present day dilemma? It is even today too tempting an inclination to replace true and tested standards of ethics with new and experimental criteria. Such a tendency could, if carried far enough, lead to moral chaos instead of progress. While the Shir Hatikkun with its Kabbalistic overtone exploits the notion of pre-mundane perfection, another poem, Aviel , considers this idea in relation to the next world.
The setting Aviel is rather trite. The hero, Aviel, a love-lorn youth, abandons the city with its phantom pleasures to seek peace and forgetfulness in the bosom of the autumnal forest. Because of his frustration he becomes immersed in himself and isolated from nature and its charms. Then, while Aviel lies down to rest in these surroundings of seasonal death and decay, his deceased father appears to him from the Olam HaEmeth , the World of Truth, as the great beyond is often referred to in Hebrew lore.
The parent explains that the reason for calling it so is that in that domain a mortal is not hostile to his fellow nor does he see him as an impediment in his path. It would thus seem that only death raises a soul above rivalry and exploitation, and that only in the hereafter can it expose its underlying grace and godliness.
The youth therefore desires to enter this perfect realm, but his father rejects the idea because as he says to his son:. I have bequeathed to thy soul the legacy of song. A charge to agonizing generations and visionaries. And divine blessings amidst the curses of a world of gloom. To thee I have given a sensitive ear attuned to song,.
And entrusted thee with unfulfilled hopes,. To flourish and thrive within thee. Will they wholly perish as if they never were? Here are two weapons to arm thyself for life. To build thee an eternal epitaph with bricks of glory,. On awakening the youth turns to the earth with a challenge:. Is thy life as thy soil, black, mute —. And a creature descending to the grave;.
A lonely flash of sorrow, and no more? Or will it fall into thy flaming soul. And be bound up in thy vigorous life,. In which every man, fly and shrub. Which you sustain in love when they blossom. And caress to thy heart when they wither? The earth remained silent as of old, and guarded its secret. It did, however, imbue Aviel with renewed courage, from its own spring of valor.
A new star, beckoned to him — the star of love, which shines with a distant brilliance and speaks solace to anguished hearts. So are the upper and lower worlds — garments, and not the true substance or core. In both realms, darkness overshadows the light, and the insignificant gains priority over the significant. R that were it not for sex, man would neither marry nor procreate. Thus even the biblical serpent has an affirmative role. True, a world without the serpent would have been less depraved and closer to God, but it would then have been overcome by His dazzling glory.
In weaving the veil that screens God from his creatures, Samael rendered a vital service to the world, hence his name Samael, because he blinds our eyes 1 and shields them from the Deity in His absolute unity. God set a boundary to His truth; placing a limit upon His splendor. And constricted them into illusory forms; had they overrun their banks,. Earth would kiss heaven and be lost in the union;. And I and thou would cease being separate and distinct.
In love; and a single flame would consume all colors and shadows;. The thought pattern of this work requires explanation. As Regelson indicates in his Notes, it is based on the Buddhist outlook as interpreted by Arthur Schopenhauer and his European disciples 2. The main characters in this poem, the two brothers, Cain and Abel, symbolize different ideas than those in the Genesis story. Cain 3 is the man of enterprise, the energetic builder of cities and civilizations. He is prodded by his passions to rule and dominate. The opposing temperaments of the two brothers lead to an inevitable clash.
Cain soon complains to his father, Adam, that Abel is sabotaging his efforts by spreading pernicious propaganda among the masses employed in his ventures, but Adam refuses to arbitrate the conflict between his sons. Cain then takes the law into his own hands and slays Abel. Before his death however, Abel pronounces a dread imprecation upon his assailant:. Streams of black night and thick darkness, curse Cain! Ye gates of dawn and wickets of dusk, doom him. Despise him ye corrals of clustering stars —. No solace to him from clouds, rain and arched mosaics —. And hold back thy blessings, O earth —.
For he cut down Abel, thy comforter and redeemer! Woe to Cain! If his plow fertilizes the soil, for a time. May it give him of its vigor, but soon seal its womb, for. He has ravaged it without pity or respite; if a city. He builds, and a second, one should rise against the other. To demolish it, grind it to dust, until both lie waste. Thus shall the right hand smite the left,. And the human passions he kindled shall be his ruination,. And he shall see the end of his toil-chaos and desolation. On that day he will cry out!
To curb the claws of envy, murder and tyranny,. To crumble the swooping and destructive wings of passion —. But there will no longer be Abel. He then pleads for her hand in marriage, telling her of his great love for her.
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The latter scorningly reveals his own true intent, exclaiming triumphantly:. I have again defeated thee, Abel, I shall call your daughter spouse,. And she will be only as mortar between my bricks, friction. For my wheels to spur them on their path;. And my foe shall be my slave,. Dispassion — a disdained carrier of my eternal passions,. May the path of Cain prosper, and I shall aid him,. Until he reaches his goal, and the whole earth. Will be trembling and obedient to our will,.
And when ruling alone. I shall cleanse the whole world of its shame of existence;. And the dream of nothingness my father envisioned will come true. And my revenge will be mightier than his enemy who shed his blood. At the triumphal celebration held on a constellation which was attended by the chief magnates of the universe, Cain, in his toast, reviews the ascent of man from his beginnings as a horrendous creature to his present status as the leader and conqueror of the cosmos, having overcome the animals and forces of nature.
He salutes the Promethians, the Newtons, the Einsteins and Franklins who blazed the trail for the sophisticated civilization that he, Cain, had constructed. The three, a very strange trio ideologically, are credited in the poem with having established a discipline of law to control human passions. Thus there appears to be a confusion, if not a conflict of ideas. Moses the theist, an affirmer of life and morality, is here associated philosophically with the atheistic Lenin and the advocate of Nirvana, Asoka — rather strange bedfellows, to say the least.
These contradictions were the source of considerable and justifiable criticism of the poem. To resume the plot of this epic drama.
She had carried out her scheme and now proceeded to purge the world of its crime of existence. She extended her hand in the path of the sun, extinguishing its light and enveloping the star on which she and her guests were assembled in heavy smoke and darkness. Detached from its constellation the star catapulted wildly and aimlessly through space. A tension of opposing forces,. The caress of foes fighting! From the oppression of creature.
Your salvation is nothingness. Affirm nothingness,. Transform your will to non-will. And your being to non-being.
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It is often breathtaking in its drama, its scenes and portrayals. Writeen in , it anticipated the splitting of the atom a decade later. The poem points to the dangers and risks of the nuclear age and its threat to mankind, particularly since the gap between human ethics and technological advance has grown so widely. Though posing the problem, however, the poet is silent about a solution as to how to effect a balance between an advanced technocratic culture and human welfare. It is the self mockery of an American Hebrew poet. If the moon you crave, my son.
The leaping between joy and "ruin" produces a poetry which makes him, as Kenneth Rexroth noted, "one of the leaders in a poetic revival which has returned American literature to the world community. His awards include the National Book Award for poetry and two Guggenheims.
He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Seller Inventory AAC More information about this seller Contact this seller. Seller Inventory BTE Seller Inventory Book Description Harper Perennial. Book Description Harper Perennial, Seller Inventory ZZN. Paperback or Softback.
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