Saturday, 18 August 2012
BUILDING THE WALL
He's a perfectionist, Uzziel:
Smooth stone clings to smooth stone,
Jointed together. He works slowly
Bringing to masonry
The goldsmith's carefulness.
You can smell it on his clothes,
He is not used to the dust of building,
Yet he works stolidly,
Hananiah the perfumer.
His muscles ache but grow firmer.
Strange to see Rephaiah,
Ruler of half Jerusalem,
Out of his council robes,
Grubbing among the rubble,
Hammer and chisel in hand.
With his house facing the danger
Storms and stones and arrows
Jedaiah (his wife and children
Cowering in the yard)
Has the greatest incentive to labour:
He builds for strength, not beauty.
I know little of Hattush.
He is a reticent man.
He structured this rampart alone.
Malchijah was not content
His own patch established
To lounge, watching his fellows
Still struggling at their tasks.
His energy and time
He spent on this wall and tower:
He had his friend Hasshub to help.
Look at those girls!
Shallum, the other ruler,
Having no son
Has his daughters labouring for him,
Measuring, chiselling, carrying:
They are forming a sturdy bulwark.