Adrian Brown

from The Ram in the Thicket

...Yet, these high sophistries above his head,
Still-trembling Isaac meaningly inquired
If positive pronouncements from the Lord
Had piloted this plan? The harassed sire  720
Responded, more pragmatically, how through
The shoals and cataracts of life he’d found
That God helps those the most who help themselves,
Here pointing out a handy rule of thumb
His pupilary son might bear in mind
When he, in course of time, must lead the flock,
And Abraham’s own herding days were done. .
No more than half-convinced, the boy took stock,
Then with remorseless childish logic asked
– And here he whispered in his father’s ear –   730
If this evasion of his question meant
That God in fact does not exist at all,
But is ‘a kind of bogeyman made up
To make the people do as they are told?’

Pierced by his son’s precocity, the sage
Fell silent till, considering the ease
By which he had himself audaciously
Usurped the high tribunal of the Lord,
A sombre vision shadowed in his head
How later times would warp his precedent  740
To serve expediency…. How one would come
Soon after – prophet like himself – to claim
Celestial authority for laws
Found, he would say, upon a mountain, carved
In stone as ten commandments, for mankind
To hold forever after as divine;
How from such hallowed template, ages on
– And here he closed prognostic eyes in pain –
Despots would follow, drunk with dogma, who’d
Proclaim as absolute some local creed 750
Of mullah, rabbi, presbyter or priest;
Stirring up simple faith to ‘Holy War’,
In which fanatic fools could fantasise
That, if they blew themselves to Kingdom Come,
Embroiling unbelievers in the blast,
They’d be assured a place in Paradise
With hecatombs of houris close to hand.
And then – still more apocalyptically –
The seer perceived, in lands beyond the pale
Of any empire dreamed as yet by men,  760
How hawkish demagogues who’d ‘seen the light’
Would cite him as empowering paradigm
To ambush truth or blare a blatant lie,
Not to defend their people from attack
(As Abraham had shielded Isaac), but
Bullheadedly to sacrifice their sons
On battlefields where mass destruction yawned,
Then grant their graceless gods of gilt-edged greed
Gross usufructs of money, power and oil..........

Adrian Brown © 2009
The Ram in the Thicket, an epic poem was published by Hearing Eye © 2007