Discover more from Useful Humans
Agnus Dei by Denise Levertov
Given that lambs are infant sheep, that sheep are afraid and foolish, and lack the means of self-protection, having neither rage nor claws, venom nor cunning, what then is this 'Lamb of God'? This pretty creature, vigorous to nuzzle at milky dugs, woolbearer, bleater, leaper in air for delight of being, who finds in astonishment four legs to stand on, the grass all it knows of the world? With whom we would like to play, whom we'd lead with ribbons, but may not bring into our houses because it would soil the floor with its droppings? What terror lies concealed in strangest words, O lamb of God that taketh away the Sins of the World: an innocence smelling of ignorance, born in bloody snowdrifts, licked by forebearing dogs more intelligent than its entire flock put together? God then, encompassing all things, is defenseless? Omnipotence has been tossed away, reduced to a wisp of damp wool? And we frightened, bored, wanting only to sleep till catastrophe has raged, clashed, seethed and gone by without us, wanting then to awaken in quietude without remembrance of agony, we who in shamefaced private hope had looked to be plucked from fire and given a bliss we deserved for having imagined it. is it implied that we must protect this perversely weak animal, whose muzzle's nudgings suppose there is milk to be found in us? Must hold to our icy hearts a shivering God? So be it. Come, rag of pungent quiverings, dim star. Let's try if something human still can shield you, spark of remote light.