Saturday, 7 June 2014

On Cherry-picking Life-force Metaphors and Straws

As regular readers will know only too well, I like to think I have a strong sense of spirituality but find it - along with a sense of raison d’ĂȘtre - in nature, not religion. (I find dogma more imprisoning than enlightening.) At the same time, I am often accused of hypocrisy because I use religious metaphor in many of my poems.

For me, the more sensitive, imaginative, and spiritually enlightening passages in Holy Books are metaphors for humanity, its weaknesses and strengths.

Raised a Christian, I have never been able to take the Bible literally, but always found much food for thought in it and poetry to enjoy. I admire the historical Jesus of Nazareth as a man ahead of his time who spoke good sense and encouraged the kind of open mind and heart that many so-called Christians today would do well to follow.  

We have much to learn from founders of all the world’s religions.  So, yes, I often use religious metaphor in my poetry, and don’t consider this makes me a hypocrite.

Readers of my gay-interest blog often contact me on the subject of religion versus sexuality. Among them, ‘Julie M’ who wrote to say that she too ‘turned to nature for spiritual strength and reassurance after my religion failed me, a lesbian, when I needed it most.' Others have written to say they have been disowned by their family and friends for making life choices (not necessarily to do with sexuality) considered ‘inappropriate’ in the context of various socio-cultural-religious traditions.  [As the title of a poem of mine asks, whatever happened to love?]

This poem is a villanelle.


Passive spectator to war,
the last tree left standing, evergreen;
God, a first and last metaphor

Tested like Adam (all the more)
by a world’s dark intentions unseen;
passive spectator to war

Eve called out for a whore
by busy minds hastily swept ultra-clean;
God, a first and last metaphor

Snake in the grass and more…
making of nature something obscene,
passive spectator to war

Behind the kitchen door,
preparing to feed off a television screen,
God, a first and last metaphor

Presuming to keep the score,
let one coin outshine a leaf’s dawn sheen;
passive spectator to war...
God, a first and last metaphor

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title 'God's Metaphor' in 1st eds. of Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

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