A Brief Biblical Theology of Hosea’s Two Children: Lo-ami and Lo-ruhamah

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(note for a Bible Study)
In Hosea 1, the prophet has two children who received the God-given names, Lo-ami (not my people) and Lo-ruhamah (no-mercy/compassion). These children will be emblems for the rejection of the Kingdom of Israel – and also tokens of hope, because God will again show mercy upon “my people”.

To rightly understand the significance of these names, we need to understand the biblical theology which underscores these names. The names have roots in the covenant and tie us to the New Testament.

“my people”

While the primary uses for Hosea come from Exodus, there uses in Genesis which help us understand the significance.

The phrase “my people” has the obvious significance of one’s own familial relations. So Ephron the Hittite uses the phrase “my people” in Genesis 23:11 to refer to his relations. It used in a similar way by Jacob in Genesis 49:29, when he speaks of death, when “I am to be gathered to my people.”

The phrase not only means relations, it also signifies dominion or kingship. So, Pharaoh in Genesis 41:40 refers to the people of the kingdom as “my people”.

God first uses the phrase “my people” when speaking to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3, “I have seen the affliction of my people”. Ex. 3:7. Moses is sent to Pharaoh to rescue “my people.” Ex. 3:10

When Moses comes to Pharaoh, he gives the command of the Lord, “Let my people go.” Ex. 5:1. Moses then repeatedly uses the phrase to refer to the Israelites, 7.4, 7.16, 7.26, 8.16. Indeed, one level of understanding of the conflict is a dispute between God and Pharaoh over who has dominion over Israel.

Finally, Pharaoh makes a distinction between Israel and Egypt (a distinction which God first made) when he tells Moses, “go out from among my people”. Ex. 12:31.

God then Israel out to the wilderness where he makes a covenant with them. There was also an earlier covenant with Abraham which was the (a?) basis for the designation of the descendants of Abraham as “my people”.

God then speaks to Israel and tells them that when they interact with another Israelite, they are meeting one who belongs to God, “My people”. Ex. 22:24

When God comes to establish a king over Israel, he is to protect “My people”. 1 Sam. 9:16. David is then given the task of caring for “my people”. 2 Sam. 3:18, 5:2, 7:7.

When Solomon comes to the throne, the Lord makes a covenant with Solomon, that if Solomon will keep the covenant, God will not “forsake my people”. 1 Kings 6:13 [Solomon of course fails in this respect. But a second and greater son of David will come who will be king and will keep the covenant; thus, the Lord will never forsake “my people”]

The people fail in their covenant with God, and so God addresses the fault of “my people”. Isaiah 1:3, “my people do not understand.” “My people have committed two evils”. Jer. 2:31 “My people have forgotten me.” Jer. 18:15

But there will be a restoration of “my people”. The Servant will be “stricken for the transgression of my people.” Isaiah 53:8. The “days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people”.

Ezekiel 37:13 (ESV)
13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.

This is the promise of Hosea, and of the other prophets, e.g., Joel 2:26-27.

As for compassion/mercy, that too is anchored in the Mosaic covenant and extends through the exile to the restoration (the Second Exodus)

In Exodus 33:19 (the first use of this particular word), God announces this compassion as his sovereign prerogative:

Exodus 33:19 (ESV)
19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

God speaks of compassion as a fundamental benefit of keeping his covenant. Dt. 13:18-19. In 2 Kings 13:23, God determines to show compassion upon Israel, because of his covenant.

God then says, because his people will not keep covenant, he will no longer show them compassion. Is. 9:17, 27:11. And those who bring the judgment will themselves have no compassion. Is. 13:18, Jer. 6:23, 13:14, 21:7.

But with the judgment there comes a promise of future compassion. While there will be repentance, the compassion begins in God. Jer. 31:20. Yet, the compassion will begin when they repent. Dt. 30:3, 1 Kings 8:50, Is. 30:18, 55:7; Jer. 12:15, 30:18, 31:20, 50:42; Micah 7:18; Zech. 10:6 The judgment is temporary, it is compassion which will be eternal. Is. 54:8-10; Lam. 3:32.

There are also prayers for God’s future compassion and restoration: Zech. 1:2; Ps. 103:13.

The two strands (both laid out by Hosea’s children) are brought together in the NT:
Romans 9:15–26 (NASB95)
15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”
18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”
20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?
21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.
25 As He says also in Hosea,
“I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’
And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’ ”
26 “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

1 Peter 2:9–10 (NASB95)
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Implications of the “Simplicity” of God

First, God’s existence (act of being) and essence (quiddity) cannot be constituent components in Him, each supplying what the other lacks. Rather, God must be identical with His existence and essence, and they must be identical with each other. It is His essence to be. Strictly speaking, His act of existence is not what He has, but what He is. 10 Similarly, God does not merely instantiate divinity as a particular concrete instance of it. Rather, He is divinity itself. No man is humanity as such, but God is divinity as such. Many theologians even conclude that God’s essential identity with His own existence is the ontological foundation of His name “I AM” (Ex. 3: 14).

ALL THAT IS IN GOD Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism James E. Dolezal

Sermon: Psalm 37, Part 3

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The previous sermon in this three part series may be found here.

Psalm 37 (ESV)

He Will Not Forsake His Saints
37  OF DAVID.

1  Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2  For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

3  Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4  Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5  Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
6  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

7  Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

8  Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9  For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

10  In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11  But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

12  The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
13  but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.

14  The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
15  their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

16  Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17  For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

18  The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;
19  they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.

20  But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

21  The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
22  for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

23  The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
24  though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.

25  I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
26  He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.

27  Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever.
28  For the LORD loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29  The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.

30  The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
31  The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.

32  The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
33  The LORD will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

34  Wait for the LORD and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35  I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36  But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.

37  Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
38  But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39  The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40  The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Am I a stone

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Am I a stone and not a sheep
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the sun and moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

 

Please read the discussion of this and two other poems

Spurgeon’s Preaching: Making the Abstract Conrete

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How Spurgeon makes an abstraction concrete: A great strength of Spurgeon’s preaching lies in his ability to make abstract concepts concrete, tangible. Ideas have very little effect upon us until we bring them down from the realm of idea and place in the tangible world. A great deal of doctrinal preaching fails because it treats doctrine as a bare idea rather than a tangible fact. (Incidentally, the same is true of all discourse. We little discourse in the public sphere beyond religion and politics which is meant to move people into action or belief — no wait, there is advertising, which is wholly concrete. The abstract is abstracted from advertising, hidden under picture and demands).

Consider. First the abstract proposition:

And first the sin of unbelief will appear to be extremely heinous when we remember that it is the parent of every other iniquity.

The proposition is that unbelief is the predicate of all other sin: we cannot sin without unbelief. Paul makes this point

23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Romans 14:23 (ESV). How then does Spurgeon drive this point home? First, he repeats and rephrases: this is critical in oral discourse. You cannot assume that someone has caught the full wait of your words on the first pass. Repetition and rephrasing are extremely useful:

There is no crime which unbelief will not beget.

Then Spurgeon makes an interesting move to slow down the issue:

I think that the fall of man is very much owing to it.

He does not say, The fall of man was caused by unbelief. Rather, he begins with “I think”. There is a matter of meditation not demand. Let’s think about this together. He is drawing his audience up alongside to contemplate with him:

It was in this point that the devil tempted Eve. He said to her, “Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” He whispered and insinuated a doubt, “Yea, hath God said so?” as much as to say, “Are you quite sure he said so?”

Here, he turns the event into a play. Come here with me and let’s watch the primeval temptation.

It was by means of unbelief—that thin part of the wedge—that the other sin entered; curiosity and the rest followed; she touched the fruit, and destruction came into this world.

Some of the weight of this image will be lost here: “the wedge”. We don’t cut firewood (at least those of us who live in cities — which is almost everyone; my family in Montana buys pellets). The wedge of a device shaped like an ax head. It was placed against a piece of wood to be split, and a hammer was brought against it.

Image result for wedge firewood

Since that time, unbelief has been the prolific parent of all guilt. An unbeliever is capable of the vilest crime that ever was committed. Unbelief, sirs! why it hardoned the heart of Pharoah—it gave license to the tongue of blaspheming Rabshakeh—yea, it became a deicide, and murdered Jesus.

Here in quick procession he moves from Adam to Christ. Spurgeon cannot see anything without seeing the Cross:

Unbelief!—it has sharpened the knife of the suicide! it has mixed many a cup of poison; thousands it has brought to the halter; and many to a shameful grave, who have murdered themselves and rushed with bloody hands before their Creator’s tribunal, because of unbelief.

This move is extraordinary: the reference to “suicide” brings us to Judas. He he does not dwell on Judas, rather Spurgeon makes the general point that suicide is the effect of every unbelief. He doesn’t speak of hanging oneself, but rather of poison: Spurgeon broadens the terror. If you are now in unbelief, you are mixing yourself a glass of poison.

Suicide of Judas~Some people say suicide is not discussed ...

 

All who are judged guilty on the Last Day have committed suicide.

May I now stop to make a point: The Gospel is plainly this: you can do nothing of merit to avoid damnation, but God has done all. No one is saved because he is better than anyone. We are saved when we admit that we are not so.

I am a Christian because I am possessed by a moral certainty that I am and never will be “better” than any man. I am so well acquainted with my sin, that I cannot believe that any man is worse than me.

Here Spurgeon makes a point of common grace: the only reason there is no more sin in the world is that Spirit of God has restrained that sin.

Give me an unbeliever—let me know that he doubts God’s word—let me know that he distrusts his promise and his threatening; and with that for a premise, I will conclude that the man shall, by-and-bye unless there is amazing restraining power exerted upon him, be guilty of the foulest and blackest crimes. Ah! this is a Beelzebub sin; like Beelzebub, it is the leader of all evil spirits. It is said of Jeroboam that he sinned and made Israel to sin; and it may be said of unbelief that it not only sins itself, but makes others sin; it is the egg of all crime, the seed of every offence; in fact everything that is evil and vile lies couched in that one word—unbelief.

C. H. Spurgeon, “The Sin of Unbelief,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 1 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855), 19. Spurgeon then makes the point that all believers sin from the same failure: it is unbelief that leads to sin. There is no sin without unbelief.

Thomas Manton: The Nature of Grace and Mercy

First, I begin with the thing described, ‘The grace of God.’ It is a term that admits of divers acceptations. Sometimes it is put for God’s eternal favour and good-will; sometimes for the effects of this favour, as grace infused and bestowed upon the creature: Eph. 4:7, ‘To every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ.’ Sometimes it is put for the gospel, which is the charter by which we hold this grace; and so it is said, Rom. 6:15, ‘You are not under the law, but under grace;’ i.e., under the state of the gospel. Here I take it in the first sense, viz., for the gracious will and good pleasure of God to do good to men, or to show mercy to the creature; for God’s kindness and bounty to men is expressed by several terms. The most usual are two—grace and mercy. I will show how they agree, and how they differ. They both agree in this, that they are attributes which merely respect the creature. The love and knowledge of God first falleth upon himself. God knows himself, and loves himself, and then the creature. But now the mercy and grace of God are merely transient, and pass out to and respect the creature only. God cannot be gracious to himself and merciful to himself, as he loves himself and knows himself; and therefore herein they agree. But now in some respects they differ. Grace properly signifies the freeness of God’s love; mercy relates to the misery of the creature. God’s external motive is our misery, and his internal motive is his own grace. Mercy respects us as we are in ourselves worthy of condemnation: grace respects us as we are compared with others that are not elected. As, for instance, if the question be, Why any are chosen to life? it is out of mercy, because they are lost and undone creatures. But then if the question be, Why these are chosen above others? then the ultimate reason is God’s grace. Once more, the angels that never sinned are saved merely out of grace, and not out of mercy. It is not proper to say they are saved out of mercy, for they were never miserable; but men, that were once miserable, are saved, not only out of grace, but also out of mercy. In short, mercy signifies that love of God which helps the miserable, and grace signifies a property in God to give forth things freely and without desert. Grace doth all gratis, freely, and without any merit or precedent obligation or debt. Note then—
Doct. 1. That the original and first moving cause of all the blessings we have from God is grace.

Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 16 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1874), 38–39.

Sleep trouble and Alzheimer’s disease

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Disturbed sleep has emerged as a candidate risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, multiple studies link poor sleep to cognitive impairment and decline, and more recent studies link sleep disturbance to biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease, study authors wrote. Researchers showed that shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality were associated with greater beta-amyloid buildup as shown on positron emission tomography (PET) scans. They noted another study had linked poorer sleep and reports of frequent napping with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) measures of beta-amyloid deposition. The authors said that numerous studies have linked sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) to poor cognitive outcomes, and more recent studies have tied SDB to Alzheimer’s disease.

The correlation does not explain the relationship. The article addresses the possible meanings of the observation.

Questions about anti-depressant medication

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The New York Times has published an extensive article on the open issues respecting anti-depressant usage, such as long term effects, addiction, and whether such medication is always worth the cost:

“There is a cultural question here, which is how much depression should people have to live with when we have these treatments that give so many a better quality of life,” Dr. Kramer said. “I don’t think that’s a question that should be decided in advance.”

Antidepressants are not harmless; they commonly cause emotional numbing, sexual problems like a lack of desire or erectile dysfunction and weight gain. Long-term users report in interviews a creeping unease that is hard to measure: Daily pill-popping leaves them doubting their own resilience, they say.

“We’ve come to a place, at least in the West, where it seems every other person is depressed and on medication,” said Edward Shorter, a historian of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. “You do have to wonder what that says about our culture.”

 

Spurgeon’s Preaching: Figures of Repetition

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I affirm, and the Word declares it, unbelief is a sin. Surely with rational and unprejudiced persons, it cannot require any reasoning to prove it. 

Is it not a sin for a creature to doubt the word of its Maker? 

Is it not a crime and an insult to the Divinity, for me, an atom, a particle of dust, to dare to deny his words? 

Is it not the very summit of arrogance and extremity of pride for a son of Adam to say, even in his heart, “God I doubt thy grace; God I doubt thy love; God I doubt thy power?” 

Oh! sirs believe me, could ye roll all sins into one mass,—

could you take 

murder, 

and blasphemy, 

and lust, adultery, and fornication, 

and everything that is vile, 

and unite them all into one vast globe of black corruption, 

they would not equal even then the sin of unbelief. 

This is the monarch sin, 

the quintessence of guilt; 

the mixture of the venom of all crimes;

 the dregs of the wine of Gomorrha; 

it is the A-1 sin, 

the master-piece of Satan, 

the chief work of the devil.

 C. H. Spurgeon, “The Sin of Unbelief,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 1 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855), 19.

Now let us consider the rhetorical parts. Although he argues for the proposition elsewhere in the sermon, here he seeks not make you think that unbelief is a sin; but rather, to make you feel that unbelief is a heinous sin. This section functions as an introduction into the catalogue of sins which flow from unbelief. 

Therefore, at this point, he raises the emotional strain so that you will willing consider the danger of this sin. 

First, he states the proposition: it does not require proof to know unbelief is a sin. Thus, it requires only a look at unbelief to realize it is a sin.

He first begins with a series of three questions, all which have the same introductory formula (Is it not ….). All three questions demand an emphatic “Yes!”

While the three questions are parallel, they also show development:

Part one:

The first question states the general proposition:

Is it not a sin for a creature to doubt the word of its Maker? 

The second question repeats the general proposition but it expands both parts

Is it not a crime and an insult to the Divinity, for me, an atom, a particle of dust, to dare to deny his words? 

“Sin” becomes “a crime and an insult to the Divinity”. “Creature” becomes “me, an atom, a particle of dust”. “Doubt” becomes “dare to deny”

The third repetition again expands the proposition.

Is it not the very summit of arrogance and extremity of pride for a son of Adam to say, even in his heart, “God I doubt thy grace; God I doubt thy love; God I doubt thy power?”

Here “sin” become “the very summit of arrogance and extremity of pride”. “Creature” becomes “a son of Adam”. The final element “doubt’ is expanded and is made concrete with a very particular three-part question:

to say, even in his heart, 

“God I doubt thy grace; 

God I doubt thy love; 

God I doubt thy power?”

Part Two A.

Second, he makes two forms of comparison. The first comparison entails a weighing of unbelief against all other sin. On one side he balls up all other other sins (“everything that is vile”) and says that unbelief is worse than the lot. Notice that he does not merely say use the conclusion, but he also makes a list of various sins. The list is three basic groups: violence, blasphemy, sexual immorality. The short list gives some depth and color to “everything that is vile”.

Part Two B

He then ends is a list of seven labels for the sin of unbelief. The list is broken up at 4-5 with a repetition of the verbal phrase “It is”. Each item on the list begins with “The” and includes the (implied) verb “is”. The last two lines are parallel substituting the emphatic titles (master-piece/chief work) and the owner (Satan).

Figures of repetition for emphasis are easily overdone. Spurgeon avoids that fault in a couple of ways. First, not every paragraph is this emphatic and repetitive. 

Second, he does not use one type of repetition (for instance merely repeating a list of synonyms for a final noun, “A sin, a crime, a rebellion”). He asks questions. He uses two types of labeling repetitions. 

Third, within the three forms employed, he creates variety. The three questions are parallel, but they vary in length and rhythm. The two labeling repetitions vary significantly between themselves in form. They also show rhythmic variation within the form. The first set of labels breaks into three distinct parts. The second labeling form has a break mid-way three, repeating the “it is” to gain control for the final couplet. 

Fourth, the repetitions are not bare repetitions of sound. He increases the sense. There is an increase in information as he moves along. For instance, in the first three questions he shows that doubt is both unthinkable for a creature (by emphasizing both the lowliness of the creature (“an atom”) and the rebelliousness of the creature (“a son of Adam”). He also notes that doubt does not require a great act of rebellion, it is an unspoken whisper in the heart which is sufficient to create the sin. 

While such rhetorical forms are not common in most preaching they are typically repetitions without point beyond emphasis. There is no development of the idea in the repetition of parallel nouns. The parallels were chosen often because they provide no change in the idea.

Conceive these images in the air

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This poem by Dylan Thomas has a remarkable rhythmic movement. This is neither free-verse nor does it make use of a regular meter. The meter is quite purposeful and underscores the movement of thought. The rhythm matches the importance of the words. The rhythm also matches the speed of reading. Each word hurries or slows the progress of the argument.

The poem is also interesting in that speaks of what makes a thing real; more particularly, is an imagination, an abstraction real? If it is tangible that makes an image real, what of the fact that tangible images can “trickle away”. And what is it for a stone to trickle away “through thought”.

Like all good Thomas poems, the words take a great deal of thinking. He writes more in riddles, and delights in the sounds of words. I don’t know anyone who plays this wordgame as well or as successfully as Dylan Thomas.

To get the full effect, the poem must be spoken – not read. The words are script, not an essay.
ConCEIVE these IMages in the AIR
WRAP them in FLAME, they’re MINE;
SET against GRANite,
Let the TWO dull STONES be GREY,
Or, FORMED of SAND,
TRICKle aWAY through THOUGHT
In WATer or in METal,
FLOWing and MELTING under LIME.
CUT them in ROCK
SO, not to be deFACED,
They HARDen and take SHAPE again
As SIGNS I’VE not brought DOWN
To any LIGHTer STATE
By LOVE-tip or my HAND’s RED HEAT.