Friday, May 29, 2015

Veni, Creator Spiritus

Blessed is He who came to Earth as a Bull
And ravished our virgin mother and ran with her
Astride his back across the plains and mountains
Of the whole world. And when He came to Ocean,
He swam across with our mother on his back.
And in His wake the people of the world
Sailed trafficking in salt, oil, slaves and opal.
Hallowed by His name, who blesses the nations:
From Europe, Dante and the Middle Passage.
Shiva his lieutenant, and by His commandment
Odysseus brought the palm tree to California,
Tea to the Britons, opium to the Cantonese,
Horses, tobacco, tomatoes and gonorrhea
Coursed by His will between Old Worlds and New.
In the Old Market where children once were sold,
Pirated music and movies in every tongue,
Defying borders as Algebra trans-migrated
From Babylon to Egypt. At His beck
Empire gathers, diffuses, and in time disperses
Into the smoky Romance of its name.
And after the great defeat in Sicily
When thousands of Athenians were butchered
Down in the terrible quarries, and many were bound
And branded on the face with a horse's head,
Meaning this man is a slave, a few were spared
Because they could recite new choruses
By the tragedian Euripides, whose works
And fame had reached to Sicily -- as willed
By the Holy One who loves blood sacrifice
And burnt offerings, commerce and the arts.

--Robert Pinsky
from his Selected Poems (2011), a book that contains many verses I found strangely stilted but much that I found delightful

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