Poetry at King's: Giveth and Taketh

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There are some excellent poets rising up around King's and Johnny Raspin is most certainly one of them. Studying Creative Writing at UEA, Johnny enjoys and writes poetry that spans a wide range of genres. This poem has been inspired by the Old Testament Book of Job as Job, his friends and God partake in some incredible dialogue. Enjoy!

Giveth And Taketh.

(Seven days have past without a single word being spoken,
But suddenly deep grumbles cause the silence to be broken)

Job:

I shall now curse that horrid day that brought about my foredoomed birth,
Let its echo be but murk and gloom the sum of all its worth
May the moment of conception be a barren fruitless night,
As the morning of my birth is now condemned in my God’s sight!

(Eliphaz lifts up his head to look upon his oppressed friend)

Eliphaz:

My friend Job lend me your ear, to the godly path you must adhere
If you believe my words be true, allow yourself to be renewed…

Job:

O Eliphaz, is our service sensical upon this earth?
To daily have searing pain renewed, tormented from our birth.

Eliphaz:

Our God bears the beauteous title of name above all names,
No other god or idol compares to such unequalled fame.
His wisdom incomparable, his might incomprehensible,
His absolute love renders your feeble heart insensible.
So, God should never be opposed by you — a created man —
Nor be your role with earthly mind to challenge heaven’s plan.

Job:

So is my purpose to endure the night before the day
Only to welcome blighting sores and wish for night again.
To be tested and seen withstanding against the daily grind,
To receive my fair and just reward, the looting of my life.

Eliphaz:

My friend Job you must know the truly pure never do perish,
But those who plough iniquity shall find what they inherit,
Be the execution of damnation within Sheol’s fire,        
Whereas the righteous shall be lifted from the muddy mire.        
So turn your face to our God and be redeemed from famine’s death,
Receive his love and mercy and always breath in faith’s sweet breath.
Such deliverance only stems from a supernatural source,
A saving God whose lavish grace you should aim not to divorce.
This you know within your soul to be the solitary truth,
But will this be the truth that you within yourself will choose?

Job:

Look at me dear Eliphaz, my life has lost all of its hope,
Perhaps it would be better if I surrender neck to rope.
My lot is now a night with a duration far too long,
All certainty has disappeared that I will see the dawn.
You know whoever is condemned to drink from Sheol’s cup,
Whoever falls into such depths, shan't be able to rise up.

(Bildad starts to recommend that Job should hastily repent)

Bildad:

We see that you are plagued, but you must not say such godless things,
This overflow of breaking heart resembles wicked wind.
I plead you seek after the Lord and petition for his mercy,
Then you shall sing in latter days, ‘Our redeeming God is worthy’.
Still, if you pick a godless path then you shall no doubt perish,
Instead repent of faithless themes so your soul can be replenished.

Job:

Repent?! I would rather ask the Lord why he does condemn me?
I demand to be informed as to why he stands against me!
I am bitter in my soul, so shall I speak in bitterness,
Why has he left me naked, wandering in the wilderness?
Does he think that it is good to oppress his handiwork?
Am I only a piece of clay that needs to be reworked?     
Leave me alone Bildad, I shall soon enter deep shadows,
But let your memory of me be like an afterglow.

(Zophar asserts his mind regarding Job’s merited blight)

Zophar:

It seems to me that you believe you have a guiltless case,
But this conclusion leads to you becoming more afraid.
You know within your broken heart that only God can save,
So to blindly justify yourself makes you a prideful slave.
These trials you face are momentary, a sprinkling of a curse,
And if admissible truth be told, then you deserve far worse.
You substitute the highest praise, for a spiting tongue of blame,
And allow your throat to be transformed into an open grave?

Job:

It is simple for those at ease to speak to me concerning peace.
I know as well as you three that he is my true security.
Do you not think I am aware that within his hands life exists?
So cease launching your flaming darts into my ample blazing pit.
Your contempt patiently awaits for those whose feet shall slip,
Well let silence be your wisdom and listen to my lips.
Your rebuking should be dispatched no other way but silently,
For judgements are not truly just, when swayed by partiality.
Who are you to speak for Almighty God? Let me state my case,
I wish to know with all my soul why he hides away his face?
Though he wishes to destroy me, I will still find hope in him,
Regardless if I am reduced to a wasting, rotten thing.

(Job stands and inquires of the Lord, praying not be ignored)

Lord, I stand here a broken man begging you to hear my plea,
I ask that you appoint a time when you will remember me.
Reveal to me the fate of man, can life eternal be attained?
When the dead enter the grave shall they resurrect and live again.
No! Such hope of life I shall not strive, or dream to ever claim,
For I am sure this crowded world shall forever pass away.

Eliphaz:

Your mouth holds a crafty tongue that endeavours to condemn you,
And every murmur of said tongue creates luring yarns anew.
I see not the fear of God, but an uprising of conceit,
As the womb of trouble births such evil offspring of deceit. 

Job:

Each of you judge with evil thoughts, which make you meagre comforters,
I could speak as you three do and become a lousy governor.
If my eyes were not so dim from worry and vexation,
I would rise and stamp out the heart of these accusations,
But as it is I cannot find the hope in which I once did stand,
So now I eagerly await for my release into death’s hand.

(The three raise a single voice and of sympathy it is devoid)

Bildad:    

God punishes the wicked, this is why you are afflicted!

Zophar:    

The wicked suffer, segregation is what they uncover!

Eliphaz:    

Job your wickedness is great, foulness is all that you create!

All:        

Man can never be righteous, all have fallen from God’s likeness!

(Job’s eyes start to fill with tears and his body is stricken with fear)

Job:

God? My God? My Lord? Have you completely deserted me?
Was I not righteous, did I not cover the poor and needy?
Did I not share my wealth and scold desires to be greedy?
I never ate alone, being attentive to hungry groans,
I was a father to the fatherless, all I called my own.
And yet I despair being seen as one walking in falsehood,
As though God’s eyes cannot find in me a modicum of good.
Although your face is turned away, I shall act the same as in past days,
When your friendship was upon my tent and in your presence I did stay;
When my children — before they were lost — ran and played all around,
My integrity is maintained as though grace can still be found.

(The three friends ceased to reply, for Job was right in his own eyes.

Then burned with rage Elihu rose, truth resounding as he spoke) 

Elihu:

How can it be that you so called men of God appear to know
So little? One strives to justify himself, whilst the other three
Declare his wrongdoing without offering him an answer.
I am younger in years than all four of you and this rendered
Me afraid to declare my opinion, so I waited for
The wisdom of your wise sayings to make itself known, but what
I discovered was that wisdom does not always find the aged.
Insight comes from the breath of God and not from the years of men.
Job you have conveyed: ‘There is no profit for man in taking
Delight in God.’ You believe you are cast down and left to lick
Incurable wounds that have no birthplace in your transgressions,
But this mindset would imply that the Almighty has wronged you!
Therefore, impossibility has leaked from your lips, because
Our Lord God is the true owner of infallibility.
Instead of remembering to extol his works — the greatness
Of his unsearchable majesty — you remain wise in your
Own conceit. Even though God’s light is bright in the sky and his
Splendour clothes its expanse like a golden cloak, foolish men choose
To place their faith in foolishness. You should know that the Lord’s word
Is righteousness incarnate and all his actions are perfect.
You should know these things all too well, they ought to keep your cursing
Tongue quiet and transform your desire to complain into
Singing a song beyond a song. In this, the entirety
Of your life would reflect the goodness of God, even in the
Midst of suffering. Hence, true worship should never be confined
To comfort. I see two untrue mindsets: firstly, if you are good then good
Things will surely happen to you, and if you are evil then
You will be repaid with evil; secondly, everything is
Meaningless and nothing matters, hope merely serves to prolong
Man’s pain, and therefore should be avoided. However, both of
These stand completely contrary to the truth that all earthly
Pain shall pale in comparison to the treasure of righteous
Men. God will undoubtedly restore accordingly to the
Suffering that the virtuous face. My heart trembles and leaps
Out of place when I behold the wondrous works of the Lord,
So you too must now humble yourself in his sublime presence.
Put away from you naive, human understanding and then
God will reveal the truth to you and you will know redemption.

(God made himself known and began to quiz the wisdom of Job)

God:

Who is this man that believes in his own wisdom? Who believes
Himself capable of understanding knowledge from above?
Were you there when I set the foundations of the world in place?
Is it not better for a man to have faith in me, rather than
Challenge God with his prideful heart? I made you, not the other
Way round. I allowed this to happen to a God fearing man,
Who turned his face from evil in the name of upright action,
One I believed whose faith could not be influenced by suffering.
If you held fast to your faith you would have known that I never
Left your side, but you have believed in abandonment, and that
The creator of all that is perfect has no mercy in
His heart for you. Foolish Job! Repent and know that I am God
Know that I am the the author of good and the judge of evil,
Know that I made you from dust, and it is I who keeps air in
Your lungs. Once again, I say repent and know that I am God.
My purpose cannot be thwarted, man’s feeble attempts cause me
To laugh. Once again, I say repent and know that I am God.
My beloved Job know that it is faith I prize, so put your
Faith in me, the creator of your life, your sustainer and
Your Lord. Return to me Job, and once again be built up strong.

(Job with renewed trust, began to repent in ashes and dust)

Job:

What have I done raising pride against the majesty of you?
My God who can do all things, bestowing daily life anew.
I have uttered things too wonderful for me to understand,
I have forsaken the gospel of being held in your hands.
I allowed you to slip from my mind’s priority seat,
Causing my pain to create an attitude of conceit.
My knowledge of you was obtained through hearing of the ear,
But now my eyes see you clearly through their repentant tears.
Lord please forgive, and usher my return into where you dwell,
Restore and make me whole, you who regards the foolish rebel.

(This plea was pleasing to the Lord, whose blessing was now Job’s reward)

God:

What you have said concerning me is true, so I will restore
and make all things new. My servant Job, always remember that
Faith without works is like love without sacrifice, you cannot
Hope for faith to be true if you allow pride to riddle it
To the core. For then it is not faith that you have obtained, but
A fallen version of what is right and wrong. Just if you were
To selflessly love, it would require a surrendering
Of your rights; the same applies to faith, in that you should strive to
Not lean on your own understanding, but instead place your trust         
holeheartedly in me. I require not your questioning,
But your unfaltering belief in my untiring grace.

Job:

Blessèd be your righteous name, to the Lord most high be all praise    ,
You giveth and you taketh away, but my faith shall never fade!
This falsified wisdom I once believed and used to my own end,
Has prompted fire and misery to furiously descend.
All praise be directed to my God, for he is the Lord Most High,
He is the fountain of knowledge, whose waters nullify pride.
This is my vow, to be steadfast and sing unfaltering praise,
As God’s rich mercy evokes gladness that shall fill all my days.

(And so God restored to Job much more than was formerly owned)

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