Monday, July 18, 2005

A Long Poem Draft

Very rough. For the original, see Judges 5.

Song of Deborah

Then Deborah sang, and Barak sang,
and with these words their voices rang:

When in this land the locks are long,
sing to the Lord a blessing-song;
when people courageously volunteer.

Hear, O kings, and princes give ear,
to the Lord I will now sing,
and make my melody to Israel's King.

Lord, when you marched from out Seir,
the earth did tremble in its fear,
the heavens vanished as you neared,
the clouds with water poured,
the mountains quaked before the Lord,
the Sinai God, Israels' God.

When Shamgar held the judge's rod,
in the days of Jael the roads were waste,
as merchants on the ways made haste,
but the peasants prosper in our day,
the plunder pours upon the way,
because Deborah the judge arose,
a mother whom the God of Israel chose.

When Israel chose other gods to praise,
then war was the demon at the gates,
nor our shields were seen, nor our warriors' spears,
but my heart swells high to the leaders here,
who gave themselves with spear and sword
to save this people; praise the Lord!

You who on white donkeys ride,
or on embroidered cloth abide,
or on the roads now make your way,
frame a song, your praises say
to the music sounds of an oasis sun,
recount the battles the Lord has won,
sing the triumph of the peasants' fate,
when with the Lord they marched on the gates!

Awake, O Deborah, awake!
Arise, your music now to make;
arise, O Barak, captives take!

Then down marched the remnant of the elite,
when the people of God with martial beat
marched out agains the mighty,
marching out into the valley,
following the kin of Benjamin.
From Macher marched the mighty men,
from Zebulun the captains came;
then also was fair Issachar's name
with Deborah and with Barak blessed.
They came at his heels and without rest.

But Reuben wandered in his heart.
Why did you take the slower part?
Why did you stay with the bleating sheep?
Why did Gilead his places keep?
Why did Dan with the ships sit still,
and Asher as though robbed of will,
sitting down by the settled sea?

But Zebulun went, and without fright,
and Naphtali went to the battle heights.

The kings, they came; their swords did ring
against the swords of Canaan's kings.
At Taanach by Megiddo's stream
were banished all of Canaan's dreams.

The stars in their courses Sisera fought
when they from heaven wonders wrought,
when Kishon in torrents swept them away,
when the rain poured down this blessed day!

March on, my soul, with all your might;
the horse's hoof does not tread light
in the galloping of the army steeds.

Says God's angel: Meroz curse,
may the blight on its people yet be worse,
for they did not come to the Almighty's side,
when He cast to the depths the mighty's pride.

Let the deed now be confessed:
Jael is of all women blessed!
He asked for water, she gave him milk,
as smooth and fine as purest silk;
to the nail of the tent she put her hand,
then took up a hammer to save her land,
then struck a blow through Sisera's head.
He sank, he fell, at her feet lay dead.
His temple pierced with the hammer's beat,
he sank and lay still at her feet!

Out of the lattice his mother peers,
Sisera's mother with all her years;
she sits there, exclaiming, wondering:
Where are the chariots thundering?
Why tarries the pounding hoof of horse?

Her ladies answer in due course:
Do they not divide the loot?
For every man a girl or two,
for Sisera the finest suit,
spoil of embroidered stuff, well-made,
that might around the neck be laid?

So may perish, O Lord, your foes,
but your friends are like the sun that shows
in the rising of its might
the dawning of our peace and light.

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