~This poem previously appeared in Poet Lore (1969)
DO NOT CALL MY LORD, THE LION
Iam too mortal for Divine Loneliness.
I have seen the face of the Lion and I deny it.
I have known the chill of recognition and I say it;
The Lion is the King of Beasts.
Do not call my Lord, the Lion.
It is He who stands waiting on the rim of mortality.
He is perfect to Himself. What need has He of my love?
Is He not terrible? distant? isolated on the hill?
Does He not promise Death?
He commands. Nature obeys. Man he has given to ponder.
In our dreams, sunk to dread, we fear Him.
Awake, our words shatter His image.
Before the twenty-one inch orb of our eye’s reflection,
We bow to the mindless violence.
The Lion on the hill is wordless. He needs no rationale for murder.
It is our mortal loneliness to know him King of Beasts.
I have seen the natural god, I have walked his temple.
The peacocks chewed by hyenas, spreads his fan in the dust.
The golden impala rears exquisitely impaled.
The enemy lurks everywhere, part of the natural habitat.
How can such Being know me more than I know this creature?
I am too mortal for Divine Loneliness.
I seek the god who died, the God who was my Father.
I am no longer child, and God was never my Father.
Neither did He love me so that I may know love,
Nor teach me as He promised.
Nor did He give me knowledge; this I must to acquire.
Nor clarify His justice where murder precedes the murderer.
He loves me no more than the stars do, nor can I convince him of goodness,
I have looked at the Lion, at the green orbs of his power.
Don not call my Lord Nature. Nature is King of Relentless.
Do not call my Lord Father. He neither accepts nor claims
I peel an onion (philosophers speak of opinions).
The crisp outer layer falls, the other are cohesive.
My eyes, insulted, weep. I suffer the distress of loving.
Even as the pristine fruit demands its tear of endurance.
Pull away the layers, the soul suffers for little truths.
Once an amoeba panted before he knew lungs or air.
Man knew his first wanting, not knowing what it was.
Thirsted an untasted drink, not knowing what thirsted within him.
He was an act of Art, he was the risk of vision.
In the realms of probability, he tested out the angels.
If he had not wanted, what hope would there be for angels?
So do we long for God, but let not us mistake him.
Though we do not see nor hear nor touch his substance,
We have the duties of fathers prerequisite to children,
we do not know the duties of God, nor if He is obligation.
He struggles within our reason, in others the Lion will triumph.
I will appease Him with Logic, bless the name I know not.
I will send paper arrows against the orbs of power.
I will live as though nothing dies; diminished by each hour’s dying,
I will holdout. Some day you will touch them.
I AM ESTABLISHED. NOW is the moment.
Want is within reach.
(I toss away desire.)
If I find wanting less, I turn to the sea and its motion,
If no sea is in view, I will look to the sky and count it,
If I am indoors, I will search my soul.
I willput away my conquests like groceries in a cupboard.
Worship not the Lion, the Lion is King of Beasts.
I held up my heart to the Lion, the Lion did not devour it.
My soul fainted to death; my Father did not lift it,
In my two hands, weighed; holy, I prayed to Him,
The message he sent me was thus:
THOU ART YET IMMANENT.
THE STORY BEHIND THE POEM
I think every human being in grief has asked the same question, “Why?”. We may not have the answer, but we probably know what we would not accept. That was my mood when I wrote this poem.
ABOUT ADRIENNE WOLFERT
Adrienne Wolfert feels her biography became legible when she was 7 years old and wrote her first sentence on the blackboard. She had no choice, and she’s been writing ever since.
Adrienne, MFA, BARNARD’45, VERMONT ‘64, was poetry editor for Poet Lore, for 7 years, short story editor for At Home & Abroad, author of 5 novels and 3 poetry books. She taught writing and poetry at Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University and ran the Creative Dramatics Program for the School Volunteer Association of Bpt. CT, The Connecticut Commission on the Arts awarded her its Artist’s prize twice for two separate novels . She was an exchange writer between the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Peredelkino, Russia. Parts of “Twelve O’Clock Bus were published in North American Review.
Meanwhile she became mother, grandmother and great grandmother of some astonishing people.