One of today’s Old Testament readings is from the mystical Book of Daniel, which itself reads as poetry. I share two poems about Daniel, one by the 19th century religious poet Richard Wilton and the other by Lucille Clifton.
First, here’s an excerpt from today’s liturgy (Daniel 7:13-14):
As I watched in the night visions,
I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed.
Wilton picks up on this vision of a kingship that shall never be destroyed:
By Richard Wilton
Imperial Persia bowed to his wise sway–
A hundred provinces his daily care;
A queenly city with its gardens fair
Smiled round him—but his heart was far away,
Forsaking pomp and power “three times a day.”
For chamber lone, he seeks his solace there;
Through windows opening westward floats his prayer
Towards the dear distance where Jerusalem lay,
So let me morn, noon, evening, steal aside
And shutting my heart’s door to earth’s vain pleasure
And manifold solicitudes, find leisure
The windows of my soul to open wide
Towards the blest city and that heavenly treasure
Which past these visible horizons hide.
Clifton, meanwhile, talks about something else that is indestructible and no less spiritual–the dignity of one who walks tall, even in a racist society. The poem is from her book some jesus:
By Lucille Clifton
learned some few things
when a man walk manly
he don’t stumble
even in the lion’s den