Saturday, September 18, 2010

God's Funeral-A Poem by Thomas Hardy

I've used this blog more often then not to speak against the faith of my past and of the liberation and freedom I experience due to leaving that faith behind. But I have no wish to hide the fact that my de-conversion (awakening) was a long and grueling process and the source of great pain. For a few years I struggled and fought to maintain my faith as it became more and more difficult due to the mounting evidence against it and the moral shortcomings of that faith. I can truthfully say that my desire to believe remained intact long after my ability to believe had passed. For months I grasped at straws looking for anything to restore my ability to believe in God (the Abrahamic one), while I faithfully continued on in my normal Christian activities as if nothing had changed, but it was simply gone. I still wanted God to be real but I could no longer pretend like he was. During these months my moods would often swing and seemingly without cause between feelings of amazing relief and joy at no longer needing to believe and support such ridiculous beliefs and doctrines as are endorse by Christianity to a tangible and acute sense of sorrow as if having lost a loved one. God both vanished and died. It was like I was participating in a party and a wake at the same time. I recently read this poem by Thomas Hardy and the imagery he uses of a funeral for God reminded me of those strong feelings of grief that I experienced. And while those feelings of pain and desire that God is real still pop up from time to time what has not changed is my complete inability to believe that such a being exists.

God’s Funeral
by Thomas Hardy

I saw a slowly-stepping train --
Lined on the brows, scoop-eyed and bent and hoar --
Following in files across a twilit plain
A strange and mystic form the foremost bore.

And by contagious throbs of thought
Or latent knowledge that within me lay
And had already stirred me, I was wrought
To consciousness of sorrow even as they.

The fore-borne shape, to my blurred eyes,
At first seemed man-like, and anon to change
To an amorphous cloud of marvellous size,
At times endowed with wings of glorious range.

And this phantasmal variousness
Ever possessed it as they drew along:
Yet throughout all it symboled none the less
Potency vast and loving-kindness strong.

Almost before I knew I bent
Towards the moving columns without a word;
They, growing in bulk and numbers as they went,
Struck out sick thoughts that could be overheard: --

'O man-projected Figure, of late
Imaged as we, thy knell who shall survive?
Whence came it we were tempted to create
One whom we can no longer keep alive?

'Framing him jealous, fierce, at first,
We gave him justice as the ages rolled,
Will to bless those by circumstance accurst,
And longsuffering, and mercies manifold.

'And, tricked by our own early dream
And need of solace, we grew self-deceived,
Our making soon our maker did we deem,
And what we had imagined we believed,

'Till, in Time's stayless stealthy swing,
Uncompromising rude reality
Mangled the Monarch of our fashioning,
Who quavered, sank; and now has ceased to be.

'So, toward our myth's oblivion,
Darkling, and languid-lipped, we creep and grope
Sadlier than those who wept in Babylon,
Whose Zion was a still abiding hope.

'How sweet it was in years far hied
To start the wheels of day with trustful prayer,
To lie down liegely at the eventide
And feel a blest assurance he was there!

'And who or what shall fill his place?
Whither will wanderers turn distracted eyes
For some fixed star to stimulate their pace
Towards the goal of their enterprise?'...

Some in the background then I saw,
Sweet women, youths, men, all incredulous,
Who chimed as one: 'This is figure is of straw,
This requiem mockery! Still he lives to us!'

I could not prop their faith: and yet
Many I had known: with all I sympathized;
And though struck speechless, I did not forget
That what was mourned for, I, too, once had prized.

Still, how to bear such loss I deemed
The insistent question for each animate mind,
And gazing, to my growing sight there seemed
A pale yet positive gleam low down behind,

Whereof, to lift the general night,
A certain few who stood aloof had said,
'See you upon the horizon that small light --
Swelling somewhat?' Each mourner shook his head.

And they composed a crowd of whom
Some were right good, and many nigh the best....
Thus dazed and puzzled 'twixt the gleam and gloom
Mechanically I followed with the rest.

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