Friday, December 7, 2007

How Explain the Miracle of Light by Nicholas Gordon

How Explain the Miracle of Light

How explain the miracle of light?
A lamp's a miracle, refueled or no.
Nor is there aught that ought be more than night,
Unless some unmade maker make it so.
Know that nothing is but miracles,
Kindled from the void we know not how;
And God, if God there be, the greatest miracle,
Here within the sepulcher of now.
--Nicholas Gordon

I was looking for a poem for Hanukkah and, as usual for holiday poem searches, I found a bunch of simple, trite poems suitable for elementary school children to practice their handwriting on, but not much else. Then I stumbled on Nicholas Gordon's Hanukkah Poems. I was delighted to find even one that had a bit more substance to it, let alone several, so I'll post it today, and then do some simple ones later in the week.

Gordon's poems get a bit repetitive if you read them all, but by itself this poem really hit me. I like how he plays with words like "aught" and "ought" or "unmade" and "maker." I also like that the acrostic part of the poem is subtle -- it's not the "H is for Happiness" kind of poem that gives acrostics a bad name.

On the down side, his language is a bit obscure, and I'm not entirely sure what he's saying all the time. This is a poem that feels like it needs some heavy duty analysis, and I think that kind of language turns many people off to poetry in general.

On the whole though, it's a nice message for Hanukkah: Yes, A Great Miracle Happened Here, but do we really need that miracle to let us know that there is a God? Isn't the mere fact of existence miracle enough?

PS: Yes, I know the menorah in the picture isn't a Hanukkah menorah, but it's close enough, and the rest of the picture was too perfect to pass up.

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