wordsout by Godfrey Rust                                       The sailing of the ark  36 of 45  HOME       


This is where faith begins,
not during some religious palaver 

when our thoughts are on their Sunday best behaviour,
but at a rubbish tip outside a city. Three figures 

approach a fourth sitting alone, and the huge
silence of the ancient world is pierced 

by Job's unintelligible howl of pain, the cry
of faithful ignorance, the unanswerable question 

"Why have you forsaken me?" hanging in the air
for its answering echo, a thousand years later 

from another rubbish tip outside another city. This is
the place of sacrifice to which we bring 

our most-cherished theories, caught like Isaac's ram
in the impenetrable thicket of good and evil.

Sonnets 36 and 37 appear in the reverse order in the original publication in Breaking the Chains. The order here is better.

Three figures... Job’s three “comforters”, cf Job 2:12.

Why have you forsaken me Christ’s words from the cross (Matthew 27:46) quoting Psalm 22:1, echoing Job’s much earlier prolonged lament (eg Job 16:11).

Isaac’s ram cf Gen 22, especially v13.