Archives for posts with tag: punishment
Chorui_Bird_in_Mymensingh

House sparrows in Bangladesh (cropped) courtesy of Audree at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

For some reason hymns, sermons and church architecture invigorate my creativity. Yet the result usually explores a counter-narrative, such as in “Just Punishment“, a poem written this time last year which re-imagines the scene of Proverbs 7.

The standard interpretation of this chapter is that the pursuit of wanton desires results in people’s downfall. The femme fatale is an adulterous woman, whose “house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7: 27) The seductive woman is the danger; the wayled is the compliant man.

I watched the minister grow more red-faced as he brought his emphasis – a rail against internet porn – to a crescendo, and at that moment for some reason I saw a tiny bird hopping on desert sands. Alone, naive and in want of comfort was the little bird. A pretty lady, alluring and soft-voiced, takes the little bird into her heart. But this is the downfall, and for their transgressions they are punished. She is stoned to death by the tribe and Little Knowing is hanged.


A few months later, I wrote a poem about the forgotten raven in the story of Noah’s Ark.

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Little Knowing, a lonely desert bird,
was small and light of wing.
Along the road he saw a woman.
She smelled of cinnamon.

“My bed,” she said, “smells of more – 
of myrrh and desert aloes.
It is richly covered, soft – and ours –
in colourful Egyptian linen.” 

Little knowing saw the tent
to which he now was bidden:
a desert plain in bloom and blush,
a-sighing after winter’s hold,
in lighter joy  ‘fore summer’s ambush.

The lady then held out her hand.
“Little Knowing,” she whispered, “come – ”

He hopped into her painted palm.
Her veils fanned him with her scent.
Her eyes cupped his restless wings
and said, “Little Knowing, be not afraid.
Tonight we drink deep of love.”

Next morning Little Knowing shared
his bursting heart with all. 
“My love,” he sang in sweetest tune,
“has brought me joy. Let all rejoice!”

This called the people to the tent
and there, the woman now found out
was dragged to meet deservéd death
and Little Knowing – stupid, foolish bird 
to be seduced by scent and desert blooms,
those kindly eyes and gentle words –
was placed correctly in the noose.
Little Knowing – stupid, foolish bird –
darted into that snare 
and such it did cost him life.

The moral of this tale is thus,
young man and maid forget it not:
your lusts will take you far from god
and with them reap all death, damnation, loss.

I don’t want to write too much about this poem at this stage. I sincerely hope that it does not offend, but I do hope it stirs some mulling. You may find a reading of Proverbs 7 will add a layer to engaging with today’s piece. In tone the above is actually similar to this poem about success, which I wrote in August.

For more of my poetry, see my first published book, “Shining in Brightness“.

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