René Arcos

(1880-1959 / Clichy)

Religion - Poem by René Arcos

THE humiliation with love,
the contrition and the haircloth,
but one must be in a state of grace,
one must not know with the forehead.

Fervour! There have been days when thou hast burned,
like an altar on the days of festival
with flaming gold beneath its candle-forest.
Old need of worshipping more high than men.
There have been days when in thy own despite thy knees have yielded.

But poor man walking with joined hands, with lips that stir,
- and in thine eyes this radiance of the Magi,-
poor man, where wilt thou fall upon thy knees,
for prayer and psalm?
In temples
(upon the flags, along the walls,
in the night-lamps, even to the roofs),
abandoned soul is languishing with the absence
of One departed having left no trace...

In temples, this weariness!

With what shalt thou fill up this mighty void of love,
poor man come here,
bearing more love than they in legends bore,
to make here, ah! what furious offering,
and who hast met none but thyself,
iced as it were, and shrivelled?

Gospels, and tables of the law,
books, so many books!
But your hands are fallen,
your head is shaking,
with incredulity;
O the powerlessness of the lie,
in spite of the industrious brain,
O the artifice at every base...
And no god any longer for the price of a stratagem.

Thou must then- go thy life in quest.
Thou must then- go chewing this inquietude,
under the weight of this dumbness
and this dense solitude;
for all is groping, strange to all,
for all is only tendency and all is only possible.

And yet: this awakening
still full of sleep, stretching itself.
Level with the slow century, this game of living, keen.
This pollen over the hot minutes spread.
This masculine motion, all these movements,
for this unlimited design.
All these nativities that none had prophesied.
All moves. All is aspiring.
Every man before him has the man that he would be.
A seizing gesture reaches out with time.

And yet:
the solidarity of the world's presences;
- wert thou not gazing, with all thine eyes, at the stars,
that night of loveliness thy mouth spake love?-
O certainty obscure!
Something is everywhere that none has said.

Thou canst not seize on any of it,
although thy soul desire it, with thine eyes,
nor with thy hands, nor with thy mind;
thou comest near it and departest from it;
it is beside thee, thou wilt seize it soon,
thy life stops that it may let it live,
and it is over, it is gone.

Something is everywhere which goes before, which grows,
something which fructifies in this thy present.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, February 1, 2016



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