By The Waters of Babylon

it is addressed thusly:

A song.
it reads:
We are strangers in a land unstrange
It looks like it once was ours
Caught in its sleepy lagrange
With odd and uncertain stars;
We sit by the waters and weep
But no sound had mustered a cry
In solemnity, silence we keep
As the somnolent waters go by;
Asking from us but a song
The alien cant made correct
For folly alone made him strong
And his will is now quite direct;
But no is the answer we give
No to the moon and the stars
We cannot sing who still live
In a land that is no more ours;
If in time we had come to forget
What by troth a city had meant
What a king, a kingdom and yet
What else dark heaven had sent;
May our hand never rise ere again
Not to plow and never to sword
If we forget! Are we men --
Or arrears no man could afford;
But you, O folly of might
Though heaven be dark we recall
O our succor, O our light
Whose face makes the mighty to fall;
Blessed is he when he comes
To make life from lifeless bones
And takes all your little ones
And dashes them on the stones.
a postscript is here written:
"By the waters of Babylon" is a classical Christian lenten theme; in Great Lent we experience our estrangement through our ascetic struggle; but more poignantly, any man who is not progressive finds himself not a stranger in a strange land, but a stranger in his own home, now occupied by rude, often foolish foreigners. He has no king, no altar, and no sacrifice. Even more, he has no voice, because if he did he would speak only one word: ruin.


  1. ConantheContrartian10:41

    Very nice. I like to read poetry aloud, and so I would like to discuss punctuation with you. I felt as if I needed a period or semicolon here and there, just to give pause between two ideas or thoughts. May we discuss?

    1. Sure! I generally make my poems rather 'naked' - leaving it to the reader to discover the emphasis which makes them flow best. Also, I frequently employ ambiguity (such as 'the alien cant made correct') where if I put in punctuation it might suggest one reading over the other (which I don't want to do.) In performing the poem aloud, my usual technique is to put in emphases rather than pauses, but it's wholly appropriate to add punctuation in performing it. The problem that arises with poetry which is neither clearly a written or spoken form is - what role does punctuation play? For my part, I've never been consistent on this. Instead, I simply add punctuations where it looks or seems or 'feels' best based on either appearance or sound. But sometimes I don't.

      (That's a terrible answer, isn't it!)

    2. One other point which the first line doesn't make clear - it's a triameter. (a-One-and-a-Two-and-Three or so.) Musically, it's a down-beat ('We are...')


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