gershon hepner

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First Words - Poem by gershon hepner

Light seemed naturally the word
God would say first, the second heaven,
dry land surprisingly the third.
He named man on day six, but seven
became the climax of creation,
for on it he created rest,
sabbatically a confirmation
that once a week man may feel blessed;
on days of work he feels at sea––
the word on day three that was fourth––
and doesn’t know, in space-time free,
if he is going south or north.
Some hope he’ll never speak again,
resentful that they once were driven
from Paradise. Don’t say amen:
on Sabbath we may feel forgiven.

Inspired by lines from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy:

Dein allererstes Wort war: Licht:
da ward die Zeit. Dann schwiegst du lange.
Dein zweites Wort war Mensch und bange
(wie dunkeln noch in seinem Klange)
Und wieder sinnt dein Angesicht.

Ich aber will dein drittes nicht.

Ich bete nachts oft: Sei der Stumme,
der wachsen in Gebärde bleibt
und den der Geist im Traume tribt,
dass er des Schweigens schwere Summe
in Stirnen und Gebirge schreibt.

Sei du die Zuflucht vor der Zorne,
Der das Unsagbare verstiess.
Es Wurde Nacht in Paradies:
sei du der Hüter mit dem Horne,
Und man erzählt nur, dass er blies.

Translation of the poem goes thus:

Your first word of all was light,
and time began. Then for long you were silent.

Your second word was man, and fear began,
which grips us still.

Are you about to speak again?
I don’t want your third word.

Sometimes I pray: Please don’t talk.
Let all your doing be by gesture only.
Go on writing in faces and stone
what your silence means.

Be our refuge from the wrath
that drove us out of Paradise.
Be our shepherd, but never call us––
we can’t bear to know what’s ahead.


Comments about First Words by gershon hepner

  • (7/3/2008 6:13:00 AM)

    I suppose it depends upon the translation. If it didn't exist, THEN: let there be - whatever might have some meaning, luminate or otherwise. If it did, THEN: see what we all shall see. If it was still planned, THEN: let be what will be. Regardless, I am still confused. Nice way of being confused however... Ivan (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, July 2, 2008

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