On The Evening of Joseph’s Nativity

By imperfect ways observed, the Man is no longer backgrounded.

By praise of jailers not quite as distorted.

His tongue too forked up by a Bible, in cold pews sit dragon’s teeth confounded,

Your companions more frail.  Counselors every vanity compounding,

Forty sisters to wife, rich tilth under stores to plunder,

Ambitious of office and fine button, every season a change of color.

 

In your stride, all taken: Angelic ministratation, divine revelation,

Human ways that set your feet a tripping, high blocks, stones,

Worse than senseless things, man taken, nearly in vain:

To the Vale of Aman, the Tree at Zomar, to Enoch’s City in the stars,

Man with you came stumbling, fearing, but taken;

Taken in, perhaps, so most do see with scarcely a glance at your work, a trifle,

How rude a scheme: Gypsy, Injun, Hebrew, Christian.  Giants of Jared,

Waters of Mormon, diamondic embowed spectacular interpreters,

For plates of Gold, reformed, thrice witnessed.

 

A seer alone, surrounded by nine eager scribes,

Putting sights to paper, then print, then preachers:

Jails to keep the Smith who bloweth the coals, whose coals burnish their lips.

Paper prisons kept by cowards whose bellies are not purged.

Herein is the Smith at this forge, standing, hammering, glammering

Weaker men as alloy for his steel,

Still unmelting, behind their bars, behind praise, jailer priests all taken in.

Put to smiting, those sons of scribes have taken your sight,

To an iron yoke have bent them, your words less wisely chosen,

In weakness taken, to jailers given, words long awaiting their answer

 

To your call, to make, and take joy in the making.

Your people they failed, your city abandoned, temples to ruin,

Zion is squandered, fled they from you, near a Summer’s Mid Eve,

Mobs in grey face gathered by twilight, sending down too early their sun,

Shaking chains, links reflected in what pale light remains, grey given for gold

Then iron for breaking all you had done.

 

But a rod of your smithing, slowly melting, spreading, running

Down into plates for engraving, finer words less forkedly wrought

To witness of your work (mostly failures, true), will come.

 

For not all fell with your body and six iron balls,

To earth, deeply buried, for springtime rising

The tree cut low by late frost, newly shooted, curled green leaves unfurling,

Pale color under light blossoms, slow to fruiting, true.

But some spring day, mulched by your flesh, once shred by iron laid

Upon you by men a-fearing, his rules all broken, by you:

In wives too rich, in friends too poor, in visions prodigal, and always translated.

By man nearly all recast to his Ruler, measured three by two and more, zeros

Upon zeros, upon zeros.  Yet under ideal figures, if we look,

 

Lies a man who made god again man, incarnate

Not in glory, and high power, but finding new power in weakness,

And taking glory in the making, even the failing,

Frail as a babe, earthy as a stable, scarcely out of rut.

Steaming, reeking of musk, and blood, intoxicating.

Your hair woven in gold, your eyes given blue for the fencing of evil,

Somersaults and caterwauls, living in jest: at last made the gods recall mirth.

Laughting at your imperfect ways, rubish and quaint,

But moved to doubt, too: That maybe Man is not some god in embryo

 

But gods all men yet unruined, proud, unweak without thorns in their flesh

Like castles of stone, too strong, to the wise easily cloven,

Too strong to endure this new world, hot blown by the Smith,

Limping, his bellows whistling at esses, hammering to take in the weak,

Those easy to believe; they alone easiest to yoke with iron, are also to be set

Under light crowns, and burdens set light.  See the Smith at his forge,

Pulling ploughshares from a fire, and plates for feeding, reading.

Come, dumb man, made for joy, call the gods, for joy alone is enduring.

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