I am in the middle of a week long study intensive exploring Aesthetics, the nature of beauty and truth. It’s been an interesting couple of days and I’m happiest about it because it’s caused me to finish a poem that I started a couple of years ago.
I had no idea when I wrote it that this was how the poem would end, I’m sure it would have been far different if I’d finished it then. But I presented it in class today, and I present here to you and for posterity as well.
The lecturer asked if it was written for reading or written for hearing and I thought hearing, as the writer I have specific areas I like to emphasise which would be lost if simply being read off the page… so here’s a link to the audio version … [Link about 1mb, 2:47 in length.]*
What sweated brows and callused hands did labour long with block and stone?
What mighty, heavy tools did serve to rend the boulders square?
Who cracked the whip and shouted loud above, beyond, the din and clatter?
What bonded slaves were pressed upon to build this mighty temple here?
Did sand and dust from floor and crevice bring a tear and burn their eyes?
Did the weight of beam and burden force them down upon their knees?
How loud the strike of iron hammers bearing down on solid granite?
What god of man or human idol did Master Builder seek to please?
Day by day the walls grew strengthened, rising from the dusty ground
A place of glory built to show, to one and all, the face of God.
But from above the one who viewed this monument of all that's holy
Saw no more than sand and ashes shrine of nought but dust and sod.
Unique amid the thronging clamour toiled a craftsman tried and true,
Worked he solely with the purpose, give glory only where it's due.
His stone, shaped fair neath skilful fingers, drawing out the block's true form,
This mason's feat, to wrest a figure, cold to touch yet somehow warm.
All the while the Mason laboured; the Master Builder cracked the whip.
The temple building loomed above, the Mason sculpted, chip by chip.
Within the Mason's heart, his Maker whispered where to make each cut.
Soon the shape became apparent, a landscape formed from ridge and rut.
A thing of beauty, and of sorrow, was the Mason's altar piece,
Made to hang above the plinth, where priests would pray for man's release.
Sculpted scenes of grace and mercy told the tale of One who came.
One who humbly bore the sentence, paid the price and took the blame.
Those aside the gentle mason quietly found their spirits moved
Moved by his passion and his practise, faith in trial soundly proved.
All the while they watched his progress as he trimmed and shaped the stone
Renowned now for its striking nature, though by the Builder, yet unknown.
And so, the temple now is finished; Builder rubs his hands with glee.
At last! My masterwork is done, how all mankind will notice me!
What hasn't come to his attention, that the Mason's fame has spread.
Not for the building do they visit, but for the altar piece instead.
Unlike the boastful Master Builder, the Mason slips out far from view.
Seeking not to take attention, preferring credit where it's due.
Unseen by all but He who made him, bows the Mason to his knee.
To you alone be all the Glory, to you alone who rescued me.
*Yep, that’s me reading.