Thursday, August 02, 2012

A poem inspired by Ecclesiastes 1:2-11

Everything is just the fart of a fart.
There's not a single thing that doesn't stink.
What is the use of all this endless work
While the sun and moon always rise and sink?

Each generation vows to change the world
But air, water and dirt don't give a damn,
And after our lives are spent and spoiled
Will they have been changed by our brilliant plan?

The world is a silly radio ad
That runs on a never-ending repeat
The world is an endless video game
With a final boss you can't live to meet.

The world is like a show you think is new
But you don't realize you've seen it before.
The world is a movie that's been redone
And was no fun the first time, just a bore.

The worst thing about this fart of a fart,
the thing that everyone always forgets,
Is that there's no way to game the system
But people keep calling and placing bets.

A month ago I wrapped up reading Martin Shields' commentary on Ecclesiastes called The End of Wisdom. I got this idea of playfully recasting the ideas in Koholeth's words with an eye to removing the "pious bias" some teachers and interpreters have applied to the work.  I think that Shields' case that Koholeth's words represent a kind of Pentagon papers of a wisdom movement is a compelling one.

Rather than attempt to just dive into his exegetical comments about particular texts, fascinating though those are, I wanted to open up a rambling, intermittent set of posts about Ecclesiastes with a poem, a poem that I hope can convey the thoughts and sentiments of Koholeth that come across if we get rid of the traditional pious bias of proposing that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes near the end of his life when he was repenting of a lot of his apostasies and so on.  The biblical texts nowhere indicate that this was the case.  The other problem with such an interpretation is what it brings to the text of Ecclesiastes.  Let's note that Ecclesiastes shows us Koholeth saying "I WAS king over Israel."  Solomon was not, according to Kings or Chronicles, successfully deposed and he didn't abdicate the throne.  "Son of David" eventually came to be applied even to people like Jesus and Israelite kings who had no direct connection to David.

There's quite a bit more I could write but rather than do that I figured I'd write a poem, post that, and then get to blogging about Shields' observations about Ecclesiastes some time later.

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