"Bonaparte Before the Sphinx" by Jean-Leon GeromeEcclesiastes 4, Recast in Classical Poetry, by T.M. Moore The Society April 11, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 6 Comments No One to Comfort Them after Ecclesiastes 4 Just look around: Oppression everywhere exists beneath the sun, and the oppressed cry vainly for relief, but who will care? The slaves, the poor, all those who are distressed and dying, the addicted, and the lost— who comforts them amid their tears? What rest have they from all their sorrow? At what cost do we ignore them? On the side of their tormentors there is pow’r—as all who’ve crossed them have discovered. Is there anywhere relief for those oppressed, or comfort, or compassion? No. They might as well despair of life, and praise all those who died before oppression ruined them underneath the sun. The living are susceptible to more oppression; it is better life were done for them. But better still are those not born yet to this vanity beneath the sun. Again, I saw that men who rise each morn to toil with skill throughout the day, instead of gratitude for what they do, earn scorn and envy from their neighbors. Are we bred to this, or must we learn such vanity and grasping after wind? The fool his bread consumes wherever he may find it. He is loathe to work, pursuing rather ease and idleness. This is depravity, and will destroy him. Better we should please ourselves with little, and contentment know, than grasp with both hands constantly to seize as much as possible. This way lies so much disappointment! Then I saw a man alone, with no companion, none to go through life with him, to share his journey and his burdens—neither son nor brother, friend nor colleague. Yet he labors—though he can not tell the reason, nor perceive the end of all his toil—he labors on to gain whatever riches he requires to spend his life consuming things. There is much pain in working; its rewards are fleeting. They can never satisfy. You’d think a sane man would reflect on this, and look away from things that cannot bring his soul the peace he longs for, to pursue a better day, a better life. But very few will cease from all this foolishness and vanity. Thus disappointment and despair increase. Two better are than one, in comity. Because they have a good reward for all their labor, and if one of them should be afflicted, or some tragedy befall him, then his friend can lift him up. But woe to him who has no friend whom he can call on when disaster strikes, no one to go to, or to help him get back on his feet. He’s all alone, and likely not to know relief. If two lie down together, sweet their comfort and their warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And two friends can defeat a foe whom one alone would be undone by. Three friends make an even stronger cord. And do you see some poor, wise youth, the son of some nobody? Listen to his word, for he is better than the magistrate who will not listen, and who bears the sword with whim and fancy more than love. Of late come out of prison, he is crowned the king. Though poor at birth, he is the head of state, and what a sorry state that king will bring his people to, those sorry people, all who choose to walk beneath the sun, and sing the praise of things and fun. At that king’s fall a second youth rose up to take his throne. He ruled the multitudes, the great and small, yet when he died, none claimed him as their own, and he was gone, like wind through deserts blown. T.M. and Susie Moore make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont. He is Principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, and the author of 8 books of poetry. He and Susie have collaborated on more than 30 books, which may be found, together with their many other writings and resources, including the daily teaching letter Scriptorium, at www.ailbe.org. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 6 Responses Sally Cook April 11, 2020 Perfect for this season. Excellent and thought-provoking ! Thank you. Reply Mike Bryant April 11, 2020 This conveys the feel and meaning of Ecclesiastes perfectly. The enjambment makes the reading of it flow smoothly as it captures the times even as the original did. Really beautiful. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant April 11, 2020 This admirably crafted work is an apt and much needed poetic depiction of the Scriptures that brings to the fore the dilemma of current day mayhem. Thank you for this wisely considered and beautifully interpreted piece. It’s a perfect message for Easter. Reply James Tweedie April 11, 2020 The rendering of each successive chapter seems smoother and more elegant than those that preceded it. I look forward to Chapter 5. PS. Good luck with dealing with the repetitious word “sun.” In prose, or in poetry it works well as a refrain. Far more difficult in a terza rima. So far, so good! Reply T. M. April 13, 2020 All: Many thanks. May the wisdom of Solomon attend to you all each day. T. M. Reply Jeff Kemper April 15, 2020 It was with great joy that I read your take on Ec 4. Well done, T.M.! Ecclesiastes is my favorite biblical book. After recasting 30 or so biblical passages as poems, I just completed my first one from Ecclesiastes (ch 9). Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.