“Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” –John 10:34
John,2 for all your skill, O master maker–
singer, rhetor, builder, baker–
you could not know, though multiply blest,
that, choosing this name, you simply guessed,
well, from among the many names of God,
for crazy old men, in council, decided
to call him this and so elided
a little thing called truth and hid the light
in craven pursuit of power and might
that they might be spacious in ownership of sod.3
Much I have struggled, from youth, to reconcile
what Yeshua spoke, with old men’s wiles.
My first solution: It’s easy–don’t you see?–
the story has the truth of poetry–
An answer too facile, that, and too ingenuous
So, yearly, when our relationship I rated
I had to admit that, well, it’s complicated.
Until I fashioned this reading from flesh and bone:
That Yeshua’s claim was not for himself alone
But one he made for himself, for you, for us.
And so that truth, of all its accretion shorn,
Is this: in every child, divinity’s born.
1. Christ. “the anointed one,” i.e., the Messiah
2. John Milton, author of “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity”
3. HAMLET: Dost know this waterfly? HORATIO: No, my good lord. HAMLET: Thy state is the more gracious, for ‘tis a vice to know him. He hath much land, and fertile . . . spacious in the possession of dirt
Copyright 2021, Robert D. Shepherd. All rights reserved.