Five sonnets from The Book of Isaac





I conducted you through & sea, at the beginning
gave to you soft passage, Moshe for the leader of
& Aaron for the priest; I gave to you light
in the fire, great interests they have made I among you,
but for forgot me & is triumphed not in my name
for destroying your enemies; I had a pity on your mournings,
gave to you a bread of angels, cleft the rock for your water,
covered you with leaves; I shared among you the fruitful earth,
he threw outside those that squandered there,
evicted from their homes & families
legal conflict for property rights debating
but you blaspheme my name, would not obey
the poet who composed the Torah as a soldier might,
believing in concrete truths, absolute & absolve



---



in order not to break the second command
threatening representation of human form
that reputation is given to the god which is limited
to the former form of art; synagogue & which comprehends;
ritual object; respects a family holiday in ceremony,
which have the mosaic tablet of the circular law
arched double doors of the ark in a house of refuge
ahead the cartouche of prayer, the ritual candlestick
from before the cantor's desk, these objects all is left;
the large house where cultural hegemony,
community above was grasped, the expression
which is artistic specifies - is complicated, precisely,
this aron kodesh, finely contrived & perished exquisitely
with & of the synagogues; its peoples



---



Bialystok from London on the reading & critique of Talmud
one workshop dealt with mass production of intellectuals
the Lower East Side brims over new people dynamically
no beer, but lectures, the venue does not provide free
public places, clubs & cafes full of the liveliest argument
in the social sphere, which is something like a public opinion formed
these young people, mostly immigrants, the Yiddish language was still
in dark nasty sweatshop, the cellars & attics in damp airless
ideology at odds with the old traditions imported
of paternalism and religion - in America the child rears the parent
guilty of intellectual property discourse, the language is Russian
must engage with the people & to do must master their tongue
maskilim & socialists as pin their faith education
redemption is found purely in secular knowledge



---



the Russian peasant family alone
is a communistic commonwealth, where
population thin & undeveloped land
free, does not make sense to occupy large estates
not as impressive a peasant labour
increased private ownership of land
limits of the village community of domain
thus, land in the community without
communism & perfect domestic
Russia at the dawn of the fundamental period
the early history of land protection
hand in hand with personal dependence
wheel of landless earth unfed
the employer implies the employee



---



for me & not only for me in those days
that summons disbelief & animosity
for any faith in the higher degree of fanaticism
it become hard for with did I pass any bes medresh
without gnashing teeth & I could hardly be myself
to hear the voices of persons in prayer
or the study a page of Talmud, my largest delight
stood in demonstration that Moses did not write Torah
that Joshua did not make sun & the attitude of moons still
in tribute at the station to David no fine person
& Solomon his son no wise -
I make pause to illuminate heretical cigarettes
in the light of a candle to write on the Sabbath
in the sky of the earth, this realm is as accurate

     Aidan Semmens 2010