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Portrait of the Artist as a Lone Tree

Haiku and Tanka

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Upon Mount Carmel
by order of Elijah,
all Israel gathers;
the people, king, and prophets
of Baal, praised as rain-giver.

'You prophets of Baal,
try all you can to call him;
show he can ignite
the bull upon his altar -
or he is no god at all.

Is Baal, then, asleep?
Before all Israel, clamour;
will he not answer?
Though you cut yourselves and bleed,
still your god does not respond.

I am Elijah;
go drench the bull with water
upon the altar.
Although no flame can burn it,
I know that He will answer.

Three years it rained not;
my word alone would bring it,
for the Lord withheld.
Now show them that you are God,
and that I am your prophet!

See now who is God,
as fire from heaven consumes
the doused sacrifice.
Slay all the prophets of Baal -
wrongly called the rain-giver!'

The sky is breaking -
the field a mud wilderness,
the road a torrent;
for when My people repent,
My blessing follows swiftly.

Contents Page 121About

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