Pet Poem: Leviathan

The prompt for today’s, November Poem a Day Challenge is “a pet poem.”

I’ve been working through the book of Job, and this passage caught my attention. In the Lord’s final words to Job, the Lord addresses the monsters of the world which Job has faced. These monsters are imagined and embodied in the figures of Behemoth and Leviathan. The Lord shows to Job something of his own purposes for the two. After Eric Ortland’s commentary, Piercing Leviathan, only such a revelation, I think, would warrant Job’s response when he speaks of those things “too wonderful for me, which I did not understand” (Job 42:3).

Job 41:1-5 reads,

“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook
	or press down his tongue with a cord?
Can you put a rope in his nose
	or pierce his jaw with a hook?
Will he make many pleas to you?
	Will he speak to you soft words?
Will he make a covenant with you
	to take him for your servant forever?
Will you play with him as with a bird,
	or will you put him on a leash for your girls?"

It is a striking picture. The Lord promises to subdue Leviathan and to make him no more harmless than a house pet. And so, Leviathan is the subject of my pet. You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

A Pet Poem: Leviathan
Tied like bait and fastened to a tree
He descended, cast himself to the depths
Of this world’s chaos and calamity,
Sank ‘neath its waves and breathed his last breath.

Swallowed by the gaping mouth of death, 
In the dark of its belly he lay
Until the barbed hook of justice set
On the morning of the third day.

Holding his rope in the beast's jaw fixed fast,
The one who was drowned, went down, arose!
Bursting death’s belly, the scorned and outcast
Led Leviathan out by the nose.

In our loving, Redeemer’s victory, 
The fears we fear, the terrors and threats
Are of no more concern for you and me
Than a bird a young boy might get.
And Leviathan, that dragon of death,
Is led for your girls on a leash like a pet.

© Randall Edwards 2021.

The artwork is available via Wikimedia Commons which notes that the image is, God fishing Leviathan, using Jesus Christ’s human nature as bait. Jesus is depicted crucified, at the bottom of a w:Jesse Tree. Miniature from Hortus deliciarum. between 1167 and 1185. w:Herrad of Landsberg. I think it’s pretty cool that the metaphor and imagery which I imagined was captured 800 years earlier at least by a 12th Century Abbess. Hope I get to meet her someday.

A Golden Shovel: The Sudden Surprise of Joy

The Day Five poem prompt was to write a poem using the form of the Golden Shovel. I chose Christian Wiman’s poem, “From a Window” as the source for my golden shovel. You may read Christian Wiman’s poem HERE, and you may listen to him read it below. My poem based on his below that and is entitled, The Sudden Surprise of Joy.

Christian Wiman reading his poem, “From a Window”
Lying in a hospital bed fearing the incurable,
A diagnosis of terminal illness and
Facing that future unbelieving,
I cried out for healing. But not believing in 
God or gods or doctors or any
Thing but the awful truth 
That there was nothing more but 
To face death and die. The
Bitterness of that truth 
Drove out all the happiness of 
Living, leaving only the grieving.

Broken to pieces on a mechanical bed, I 
Looked out the window and saw 
There in the winter sun, bright and bare, a
Dormant maple tree
And something more inside
It filled my vision and grew as from within— a
Tree within a tree.
And then I saw it rise,
Saw it roll kaleidoscopically
Colored shapes fluttered as 
Though the tree were alive, as if 
Spring had sprung and flung the 
Living feathered leaves 
Merely for the beauty or for me who had 
Only thought himself good as dead but was now livelier
As the sudden surprise of joy dispelled the ghosts.