April 1, 2021

​To a Lover of Lilies

Seeking understanding through poetry.

Bill Knott & Lael Caesar

How hard it is to die in spring,

Savoring the deep earth-freshness of the garden

As you pour your soul out unto death.

All things begin. All things draw to the end.

These are the strangest then of couplings—

0live shoots with salty tears,

Warm, honeyed breezes bearing agonizing cries.

The elements protest against

This jarring fate to which you bow.

Why now refuse the sweet-slow rising of the sap?

Why blast the seedlings, newly sprung from cloddy cells?

Why siIence every thrushsong,

Stifle the glad cry now rising in the common folk

Whose hearts warm with the muddy soil?

The tempting spring deplores your ill-timed sacrifice.

Each sense, each nerve, exhilarated, begs you

Lay aside unseasonable, unreasonable imaginings.

And yet,

You choose the barren, grieving path,

Mind-tortured,

Utterly alone.

We are amazed.

We do not understand.

—Bill Knott

ELOI!

“My God, My God!”

This is the awful hand

That rents asunder all

The veil of gloom

That clothes the world

And veils the holiest

Where God and angels laugh and cry

As God hangs dying:

The battering ram that slams

To smithereens the separating wall of tyranny

An enemy constructed:

The ordnance unleashed upon his own, claimed ground,

That blasts him to eternity:

This cry of “Eloi!”

Is the great answer

To the high challenge of the tyrant:

The word that flings gauntlets of holy vengeance

In his face, marking his last obliteration.

This cry of “Eloi,”

Is heaven’s full-throated counter

To myriad meek apologies,

“Help Thou mine unbelief,”

Esteemed and celebrated by Thomas’ twins

In their great, feeble faith.

“Eloi” in all its tortured anguish

Rings out the confidence of true possession:

“My God,” addressed with force of full authority.

The gamut run to its last end,

You prove My God.

The agony I bear for You, My God.

The pact that coeternal beings sealed

’Ere the foundations of this earth were laid

Must be full realized. This is My part.

I am still God. The whole creation groans

About this cross upon this mount

Between these thieves. And We, its Maker,

Made it, not to groan, but to exult in joy!

“Eloi!”

I Am still God. You, Father, are still mine.

But this sad earth, sold and betrayed so long,

Clutched by cold death and enemies

Of light, and love

Must be restored to life and peace.

“Eloi! My God!”

Creation leaps up from his failing, flailing, fading grasp.

He vanishes,

Forever banished from all scenes of action.

“Eloi! My God!” This is the victors’ song:

“Eloi! My God!”

—Lael Caesar

Bill Knott & Lael Caesar
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