Since we're heading into Shavuot tonight, this poem seemed appropriate to post. It's from my old friend Norman's first book, Restless Messengers, which I have been rereading deeply, with great pleasure, for the past few days. Many of the lines are supposed to be indented, but for some reason I can't get the spacing right here--my apologies, Norman, for making it lockstep back to the left margin, but I hope the gist comes through.
A Poem for Scholars
They frequently suffered hunger. Hunger leads to sleeplessness, and night-long insomnia arouses a desire to delve into the mysteries of Cabala. --I. L. Peretz
Here is one whose metaphysical hunger
ranges without limits across the field of the body.
Once he dreamed of uniting with his betrothed;
now he sleeps no more.
Though they say he yearns for the Torah,
who comes to men like a woman to her lover,
he casts doubt upon the metaphor
as he buries his nose in a book.
Some things will not yield to the text;
they remain beyond the play of words
no matter how often they give themselves to speech:
God had a book but created the world,
yearning for the pleasures of the flesh.
So put down your pen and come to supper:
rye bread, lentil soup, a glass of wine.
Some say life is contingent upon luxury;
others would disagree.
Like all old tales,
this one is careless of its end.
See you at Sinai--E