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It's favorite poem time, again.

For this one a bit of history is helpful. The Biblical background is the story of Abraham and Isaac, when the angel told Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac on an altar as a test of faith. It's a dramatic story, and it's essential to receive the impact of the poem. If you don't know that story, it's here:

Also interesting is the history of the author, Wilfred Owen. He was a British soldier killed at age 25 just at the end of World War I. Most of his poems concern the tragedy of war and were published posthumously.

OK, here's the poem:

The Parable of the Young Man and the Old

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned, both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake, and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets the trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.
twirlgrrl: (Default)
An LJ friend just posted a lovely, melancholy poem. I'm inspired to post one of my favorites, just in case I haven't already. I love melancholy and romance, but also bitter, bleak and dark things. This poem is not poignant or melancholy like the one my friend posted, but it's certainly VIVID.

Ummm... Enjoy?

Love Song: I and Thou
By Alan Dugan

Nothing is plumb, level or square:
    the studs are bowed, the joists
are shaky by nature, no piece fits
     any other piece without a gap
or pinch, and bent nails
    dance all over the surfacing
like maggots. By Christ
    I am no carpenter. I built
the roof for myself, the walls
    for myself, the floors
for myself, and got
    hung up in it myself. I
danced with a purple thumb
    at this house-warming, drunk
with my prime whiskey: rage.
    Oh I spat rage's nails
into the frame-up of my work:
    It held. It settled plumb.
level, solid, square and true
    for that one great moment. Then
it screamed and went on through,
    skewing as wrong the other way.
God damned it. This is hell,
    but I planned it I sawed it
I nailed it and I
    will live in it until it kills me.
I can nail my left palm
    to the left-hand cross-piece but
I can't do everything myself.
    I need a hand to nail the right,
a help, a love, a you, a wife.    


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