The Word

“Let there be light,” He said and light there was.
The seething chaos split to day and night
And space and time were brightly set abuzz.

From atom unto Adam, highest heights
To deepest depths His mystery did unfold
Although we still don’t understand it quite:

Among all living things we were of old
With language by His might alone preferred
So that by human tongues it might be told

That long before the light the darkness stirred
There language was, there only was the Word.



Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them Agape Review, America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review, U.S. Catholic, Grand Little Things, Heart of Flesh Literary Journal, and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.

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8 Responses

  1. Phil L. Flott

    How can we describe the Word simply by words? I appreciate Mr. Essmann’s effort.

  2. Maura Harrison

    I appreciate ‘From atom unto Adam.” A clever and dlughtful phrase.

  3. Bruce J PEARL

    The Word: according to the wife of Bath
    It isn’t true. The tree
    Wasn’t forbidden, the serpent Satan,
    Nor Eve the female betrayer of man.
    Rather, she was a Prometheus
    Who, in order that we might be freed thus
    From a world of angelic ignorance –
    That we as living, breathing creatures might dance
    The dance of life and so by experience
    Know good and evil – plucked that fruit hence.
    And, eschewing even Jehovah’s warning,
    Risked death to see human wisdom dawning.
    For which God then, even unto today,
    That calumny might sacrifice repay,
    Ordered us subject to the will of man –
    Though they both ate – I just don’t understand.
    No, the root of evil, ever since then,
    Is that women are ruled by witless men.

  4. Shamik Banerjee

    Such a lucid and beautiful way to describe The Word in just a few lines. I love the creative rhyme scheme. Thank you for this poem, Mr. Essmann.

  5. Cynthia Erlandson

    Wow — this is lovely, and says so much in a few lines — as the Word says so much by being The Word. I, too, loved the use of atom/Adam. Also, was/abuzz is wonderful, as is your elucidating explanation of the gift of language being given only to humans. “There language was, there only was the Word.” is just fabulous!

  6. Jeffrey Essmann

    Thanks so much, everybody.

    Mr. Banerjee, I take no credit for the rhyme scheme. It’s terza rima, Dante’s invention. I like its “braiding” (aba, bcb, cdc, etc.), and was initially going to do a terza rima sonnet (aba, bcb, cdc, ded ee), but found that I’d said all I wanted to say in eleven lines, so it’s a terza rima eleven-line-something-or-other.

    Whatever it is, again, I’m very grateful that it somehow spoke to you all.

  7. Shamik Banerjee

    Mr. Essmann, I appreciate you enlightening me on the poetic form. I’m learning a lot from this wonderful space. Thank you again for this beautiful poem. God bless.

  8. Margaret Coats

    Jeffrey, your line “Although we still don’t understand it quite” sets us up for economy of form, by which I mean shortening what looks like it will be a terza rima sonnet. That and the stirring in the darkness of the final couplet beautifully suit the subject of The Word.


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