Of petition, prayer and poetry

A while back, my brother-in-law saw a photograph I had taken in China and asked to see more.  Now what you need to know about Robert Lawrence, aka Bob, is that he writes poetry and plays, translates ancient Greek and delves into theology–on his own, art for art’s sake.  When he mentioned that some of the images had inspired some verses, I asked to get a copy.  It is  my turn now to be inspired.   Here are two of his poems.  

rock-carved temples in Bingling Si along the Yellow River (©Lee Lawrence 2005)
rock-carved temples in Bingling Si along the Yellow River

The Worn Deities’ Prayer   by Robert Lawrence

Do you see what you have done?

Centuries of endless pleadings

Have worn us down to our core.

So many times have we embraced you

In your endless misery

That many of our limbs are but stubs,

Reduced to crumbs

In our countless attempts to comfort you.

So many tears have you shed

At our fading altar

That you have washed the gay colors

From our holy robes,

Scouring our names from the wall

Until they are but a white river

Dribbling from the stone.

You have hurled your passionate petitions

Against our faces for so long

That now many have just crumbled

To dust for your feet to tramp upon.

Enough!  Gaze if you must

Then leave us to mend in peace.

Some poems cling to the image more literally than others —  in the one posted below, for example, Bob turned the image on its side, giving prayer wheels an unexpected appearance.

prayer wheels in Langmusi, Gansu Province, China
Prayer wheels in Langmusi, Gansu Province, China

                    Prayer Wheels   by Robert Lawrence

Why do you rest there

Sparkling and still,

Lined up like so many

Golden mummies

In your dark sarcophagus?

Do you believe your gleaming

Gilded flanks will appease

The forces lining up against us?

You are not furniture carved

To collect a museum’s dust!




Fast and furious until

Your many melts into one.

 Let the wind from your wheeling

Tear down the temple doors,

Punch a hole into heaven,

Until destiny itself bows

 In homage to the thunder

Of your prayers.

More to come in future posts….

2 thoughts on “Of petition, prayer and poetry

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