Poetry to Die For
The Raising of Lazarus by Benjamin West
Lazarus of Bethany
Lazarus of Bethany, also known as Saint Lazarus or Lazarus of the Four Days, is the subject of a prominent miracle attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus restores him to life four days after his death. The Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions offer varying accounts of the later events of his life.
In the context of the Gospel of John, the narrative of the Raising of Lazarus forms "the climactic sign... Each of Jesus' seven signs illustrates some particular aspect of his divine authority, but this one exemplifies his power over the last and most irresistible enemy of humanity—death. For this reason it is given a prominent place in the gospel.
The name Lazarus (Latinized from the Hebrew: אלעזר, Elʿāzār, Eleazar—"God is my help"
I am Lazarus
What world is this, this Bethany?
From gloaming nether lands
To gleaming isles of hours
New suns, new skies, new stars
I believe it would be proper to thank you
Though I know of nothing here
Nothing familiar, nothing warm
Should I thank or curse you?
I fear those interior moments
That remind me of my recent death
Those moments of quiet calm about me
While I am restless for battle
With no foes to fight
No dragons to slay
No worlds to conquer
Who am I then?
I am told there are many paths before me
But I cannot even see my feet
Let alone the where for them to go
This rumpled, stilted, skinned-alive
This life flayed open to the light
This night of knowing nothing here
Four days of death come forty years
And light in me come dark
For the oil of life lay distant thus
And flame ne’er touch its hope
So I take this talisman you give
And drown it in soul’s sorrow
For I no longer long to live here
Nor to breathe this age’s air
Thank you for your offer
Where I breathe and you are known
For miracles of life and death
And saving souls not worthy
Save your hand for better selves
For I am meant to die.
Whatever happened to fortunate days?
When eyes woke bright with eager hope
To taste what dew the evening brought
A mind new moist dissolving into a warming sun
Mornings are dry in this new and wicked world
Dry of hope and blackened sere of sense
Barely, rarely ever do I get some few chores done
Before I fade deep into early darkness
It is indeed eternal winter now
Days chill and short and quiet with bloodless snow
I yearn for youthful summers
Knowing they are past and old – forever cold
I think I had a few good years
Before the world and I parted poorly
If only I could have this current mind to share
With the trellis-jumping soul that once resided here
There are cares now, though I lack the will to care
I inhale a deep billow of sooty warmth
A cigarette, dangerous and guilty – damning my god
But it lets me feel something, anything, within my hollow chest
I would barter this one smoky emotion that I own
To lease one more day of warm vanilla breezes
Laying in the straw beneath the ponderosa pines
Summer, on the crest of my own mountain
But it’s winter now, and too well know
That there will never come a spring
Though perhaps I can on some occasion
Warm to a pending death.
The Fires of Eternity
I lay, disquieted on a pebbled beach
I make myself in the white and dark clouds above
Forever changing form within a silent breeze
My recognition falters with the hours
Gathering, a single cloud is lost within the storm
Alone, seeming aimless and ineffectual, drifting
But there is a beauty in its simple being
Unseen ties turn it with the cycles of the earth
I make myself in the clouds of time
Being quiet, beautiful
I am made
In the unrelenting fires of eternity.
Exploring the Craft of Poetry
Alliteration is derived from Latin’s “Latira”. It means “letters of alphabet”. It is a stylistic device in which a number of words, having the same first consonant sound, occur close together in a series.
I Face the North
Still, I face the north – unmoved
Snow drifts upon me, lingering too long
Slow clings of moss eternal to my limbs
I drink but cool reflected light
With dim and borrowed sight
Should I loose these deep decaying roots
That hold me fast and poor sustain me
Should I pray for fire
To burst my seed?
And wind to bear my fate
Beyond this shadowed state?
This bitter shade that shivers
through my loneliness
Steals some unknown summer from this heart
This heart, green and grey,
drums a permanent mist
A dew brought dry before I reach to taste.