Who Shall I Pray To?

prayer

WHO SHALL I PRAY TO?

 

It may be 
that only the Little People have my measure,
know the chances I take, 
jockeying for position on the human stage,
risking all.
It is they who understand. 
they have been here before me
and sympathise. 

Now, safe in their elven homes,
reflecting,
they take the long view,
the wise one, 
nodding,
in turn, sympathetic, then disdainful,
smugly disengaged.

For that is their destiny as gods,
to judge, 
to pronounce on the frail and the headstrong;
to be prayed to by feeble humankind, 
free to accept our pitiful offerings. 
free also
to ignore our pleas for redemption. 

Who else do I pray to
when history’s gods fail me? 
Only Solas listens, 
hears,
but his replies I fail to understand, 
and, rudderless, 
am, as ever, left
to choose my own path
in this unstable world.

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Punishment of the Gods

Atlas At Culzean

The ‘Atlas’ Sundial, Culzean Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland … Photo: WHB 2003  ©

PUNISHMENT OF THE GODS

The ancient gods of Greece and Rome, omniscient in their sagacity,
Showed no restraint at all in exercising their voracity.

Eternal punishment was dealt by Zeus to those who crossed him;
Ever the vengeful God dispersed reprisal on a whim.

Prometheus, fettered to a rock, Zeus’s ego damaged,
Condemned to have his entrails by an eagle daily ravaged.

For Sisyphus he set the task of rolling a stone uphill. 
For all I know that poor old chap is pushing skywards still.

Wretched Tantalus suffered long, his grasp forever taunted
By receding fruit and water, always close, but always daunted.

For lusting after Zeus’s wife, Ixion was bound to a wheel,
Then the wheel was set on fire, a vicious cruel ordeal.

Other gods and goddesses were equally disdaining
Of lesser gods and vulgar mortals of whom they were complaining.

Arachne she was killed by fate, but brought back as a spider,
Condemned continually to weave, forever an outsider.

Actaeon was turned into a stag for just one venial sin,
Then torn apart by his own hounds, his heart ripped from his skin.

Narcissus met his Nemesis beside the mirrored pool.
He pined away with love forlorn; he broke the golden rule.

Atlas he was made to bear the whole of heavens’ weight; 
Upon his shaken Titan shoulders, his cursed aeonian fate.

So thus discomfited mankind was taught not to transgress;
Displease the gods who dares, condemned to unceasing deep distress.

 

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Fire, Forge and Furnace

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‘The Smith’: Illus.from’The Book Of English Trades’, Museum of English Ryral Life, Reading University.

FIRE, FORGE & FURNACE

It began with the furnace
When limping Hephaestus
tamed his volcanic forge,
before Prometheus
poached fire,
and brought to mankind,
his creation,
those skills of
 inspired artistry
 in metal and the arts,
for which he suffered
until, released, liver-less,
 from his eagle-torn fate

So, his legacy,
passed on to the smith,
farrier, blacksmith, metalworker,
a noble calling
worthy trade
artist in iron
his skill
portrayed in metal
wrought within the fire
of Vulcan’s heart

Bent over the anvil
he finds his future
his art is in iron
his heart lies there too
the kiln his spirit
the anvil his easel
tongs his palette knife
his hammer his brush

Rendering and wrenching
forging
forcing his will
on that malleable metal
moulding with skill
stroking the steel
forming shape
to match imagination
to meet a need
create a masterwork
from his mind’s ferment

The furnace,
bellowed into life,
bright burning coals
in heat and fusion
throw shadows all around
as if their flickering flames
are desperate to escape
and return
to the place of their birth –
the fiery inferno
in Vulcan’s heart.

Hephaestus

Hephaestus

 

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