Still on the Theme that Refuses to Die - guest poem sent in by Suresh Ramasubramanian
(Poem #847) On the Death of Smet-Smet, the Hippopotamus-Goddess
Song of a tribe of the ancient Egyptians (The Priests within the Temple) She was wrinkled and huge and hideous? She was our Mother. She was lustful and lewd? -- but a God; we had none other. In the day She was hidden and dumb, but at nightfall moaned in the shade; We shuddered and gave Her Her will in the darkness; we were afraid. (The People without) She sent us pain, And we bowed before Her; She smiled again And bade us adore Her. She solaced our woe And soothed our sighing; And what shall we do Now God is dying? (The Priests within) She was hungry and ate our children; -- how should we stay Her? She took our young men and our maidens; -- ours to obey Her. We were loathed and mocked and reviled of all nations; that was our pride. She fed us, protected us, loved us, and killed us; now She has died. (The People without) She was so strong; But death is stronger. She ruled us long; But Time is longer. She solaced our woe And soothed our sighing; And what shall we do Now God is dying?
Speaking of sarcasm, Hippos and religion, this one just has to take the cake. Blind acceptance of a cruel and savage Deity - till the Deity dies, leaving priests and people alike fumbling, scared, at a loss. The frightened priests are busy making up excuses for their cruel rites - and attributing all of them to the Hippo-Goddess' savage appetites. The common people, who have come to accept the cruelty of the Smet-Smet cult, are at a loss as whatever religion they had - whatever supported their society - has been destroyed. Fatalism - the stoic acceptance of a (frequently savage) predestination - is often the backbone of a religion, especially a religion which is based on terrorizing its followers into submission. Now, when the (supposed) arbiter of Fate herself meets her fate? A rather interesting state of affairs. The first thing that I thought of when I read this was that Marx was perhaps right when he dismissed religion as "The opium of the masses." As for Brooke - it was a pleasant surprise for me to discover he wasn't just a war poet (though his war sonnets are among the best I've read). "A young Apollo, golden-haired, Stands dreaming on the verge of strife, Magnificently unprepared For the long littleness of life." These lines were written by Frances Cornford for Brooke, called by W. B. Yeats, "The most handsome man in England." Not a very long littleness though - Brooke died in 1915, aged just 28. I guess there has been more than one Brooke bio posted on minstrels already, so I'll just stop here. -suresh Biography: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/7086/brookebionote.htm Brooke poems on Minstrels: Poem #514 "The Chilterns" Poem #280 "The Soldier" Poem #589 "Sonnet Reversed"