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Portrait of the Artist as a Lone Tree


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Job a sestina

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I am become like one who lived in sin -
for all the grace God brought is fallen ashes.
Each day I made ecstatic sacrifice;
where are my flocks and family, I pray?
Now God denies my life be lived in justice;
beyond this, I can see no deeper wisdom.

Your words were once epitome of wisdom;
but now, you are the victim of your sin.
Say not that God denies the humble justice -
for sin he turns your riches into ashes.
So now in solemn pondering, we pray
that you might bring again glad sacrifice.

No man knows more than I of sacrifice;
if this is all you give to me of wisdom,
then leave me to my grieving, I would pray!
For all around the world is sick with sin,
and yet the wicked laugh at all my ashes -
they, too, know God has judged me without justice.

You anger me; God offers all his justice!
The world is not enough to sacrifice,
if all of it were burned to heaps of ashes.
Never forget that God created wisdom,
our pale and flimsy imitation's sin -
we cannot match God's glory, though we pray.

Who is this Job, for whose concerns you pray?
Mine is the hand that first accomplished justice;
man is the one who wallows in his sin.
Though Job alone has mastered sacrifice,
'tis the beginning only of my wisdom;
now sacrifice itself is cast to ashes.

Now that I see the sight, I fall in ashes;
How can I face your glory as I pray?
Who can compare with this eternal wisdom?
How can I bring the King of all to justice?
What can I give him back, for sacrifice?
Instead, I seek forgiveness for my sin.

Ah, Job, to me your sins are burned like ashes;
no longer sacrifice, but rather pray -
so through your trials, is justice turned to wisdom.

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