Pilgrims

March 11, 2016

We come to the island first.
We think it possible and perfect,
a fort of such esteem, we will live here
like Egyptians, the pharaoh hovering
over a pyramid so big it could just be
the moon rising across the desert..
We grow in miniature.
We are powerful.
We are overfull with the bones and souls
which are working to transform
the sense the pharaohs have
of what a heaven is.

Whereas we pray;
whereas we are wed to thee;
my dark father, so that
our children might pass through
their life un-enslaved;
whereas we prevail; whereas
we hope that none
die in vain—
that none die at all.
That no one dies, not even Pharaoh—
that His blood will not stain this sand,
that His land lies before Him still.

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2 Responses to “Pilgrims”

  1. extrasimile Says:

    No, I don’t think we need bring The Donald into this poem. He’s getting quite enough publicity. Anyway: both senses of pilgrim apply, though the more general sense of a spiritual traveler is probably closer to the mark. I’m glad you like it. I’m a little dissatisfied. It has been worked to death and is a little too disjointed. Also: too ‘reductive’ without a re-imagining of reality, as it were. See this poem for what I mean https://extrasimile.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/chapel-of-words/
    From a long time ago. But I just happened across it. Life is prayer. We wash away.

  2. Thomas Davis Says:

    This is powerful, Jim. I’ve read it now four times. It seems so simple, but simple it is not. The lines, “We grow in miniature./We are powerful.” seem to create a dichotomy that is unstated throughout the rest of the poem, but is definitely there. So much for Donald Trump, I suppose, though I’m absolutely sure you didn’t mean that. “We are overfull with the bones and souls/which are working to transform/the send the pharaohs have/of what a heaven is.” This seems to lead to the line about the dark father, which then leads to the wishes and hopes:
    that His blood will not stain this sand,
    that His land lies before Him still.
    The title, Pilgrims, would seem to refer to either the Pilgrims in their religious unorthodoxy/orthodoxy that landed on the shores of America — or the pilgrims:
    “Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
    And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes.”
    His, capitalized, usually refers to God, of course. This is so powerful. It echoes and echoes in the mind. Still. . . you are always worth reading and pondering.


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