HD Blog 27: "grant us strength to endure"

hello everyone! a new post with a few biblical references that are quite intereting!
nothing new to report, 10 days left on thesis, one week left for work…AND i hear that sethharwood.blogspot.com and sethharwood.com is all the rave. CHECK IT OUT!!!!

*

[29]

Grant us strength to endure
a little longer,

now the heart’s alabaster
is broken;

we would feed forever
on the amber honey-comb

of your remembered greeting,
but the old-self,

still half at-home in the world,
cries out in anger,

I am hungry, the children cry for food
and flaming stones fall on them;

our awareness leaves us defenceless;
O, for your Presence

among the fishing-nets
by the beached boats on the lake-edge;

when, in the drift of wood-smoke,
will you say again, as you said,

the baked fish is ready,
here is the bread?

*

Alabaster is a name applied to varieties of two distinct minerals: gypsum (a hydrous sulfate of calcium) and the calcite (a carbonate of calcium). The former is the alabaster of the present day; the latter is generally the alabaster of the ancients.

The two kinds are readily distinguished from each other by their relative hardnesses. The gypsum kind is so soft as to be readily scratched by a finger-nail (hardness 1.5 to 2), while the calcite kind is too hard to be scratched in this way (hardness 3), though it does yield readily to a knife.

Calcite Alabaster, the “alabaster” of the Bible, is often termed Oriental alabaster, since the early examples came from the Far East. The Greek name alabastrites is said to be derived from the town of Alabastron, in Egypt, where the stone was quarried, but the locality probably owed its name to the mineral; the origin of the mineral-name is obscure, and it has been suggested that it may have had an Arabic origin. This “Oriental” alabaster was highly esteemed for making small perfume-bottles or ointment vases called alabastra, and this has been conjectured to be a possible source of the name. Alabaster was also employed in Egypt for canopic jars and various other sacred and sepulchral objects.

Calcite alabaster is either a stalagmitic deposit, from the floor and walls of limestone caverns, or a kind of travertine, similarly deposited in springs of calcareous water. Its deposition in successive layers gives rise to the banded appearance that the marble often shows on cross-section, whence it is known as onyx-marble or alabaster-onyx, or sometimes simply as onyx – a term which should, however, be restricted to siliceous minerals. Egyptian alabaster has been extensively worked near Suez and near Assiut; there are many ancient quarries in the hills overlooking the plain of Tell el Amarna. The Algerian onyx-marble has been largely quarried in the province of Oran. In Mexico, there are famous deposits of a delicate green variety at La Pedrara, in the district of Tecali, near Puebla. Onyx-marble occurs also in the district of Tehuacán and at several localities in California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Virginia.

*

ALABASTER AND THE BIBLE

Alabaster Occurs only in the New Testament in connection with the box of “ointment of spikenard very precious,” with the contents of which a woman anointed the head of Jesus as he sat at supper in the house of Simon the leper.

These boxes were made from a stone found near Alabastron in Egypt. The woman “broke” the vessel; i.e., she broke off, as was usually done, the long and narrow neck so as to reach the contents. Mark says (Mar 14:5) that this box of ointment was worth more than 300 denarii, and if we take the denarius as the day’s wage of a laborer (Mat 20:2), then the whole would be quite costly.

HERE is the passage from MARK 14:

1 After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.

2 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.

3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?

5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

ON SPIKENARD

Spikenard, a much-valued perfume (Sol 1:12; Sol 4:13, Sol 4:14). It was “very precious”, i.e., very costly (Mar 14:3; Joh 12:3, Joh 12:5). It is the root of an Indian plant, the Nardostachys jatamansi, of the family of Valeriance, growing on the Himalaya mountains. It is distinguished by its having many hairy spikes shooting out from one root. It is called by the Arabs sunbul Hindi, “the Indian spike.” In the New Testament this word is the rendering of the Greek nardos pistike . The margin of the Revised Version in these passages has “pistic nard,” pistic being perhaps a local name. Some take it to mean genuine, and others liquid. The most probable opinion is that the word pistike designates the nard as genuine or faithfully prepared.

*

(tintorreto’s miracle of the manna)

this couplet from the section:

I am hungry, the children cry for food
and flaming stones fall on them;

COULD REFERENCE MATTHEW CHAPTER 7:9

9 Or who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?

HERE is the entire passage from MATTHEW chapter 7:

1 “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged.

2 For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you.

3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but don’t consider the beam that is in your own eye?

4 Or how will you tell your brother,’Let me remove the speck from your eye;’ and behold, the beam is in your own eye?

5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.

6 “Don’t give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

7 “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you.

8 For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.

9 Or who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?

10 Or if he asks for a fish, who will give him a serpent?

11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

12 Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

13 “Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it.

14 How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.

16 By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?

17 Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit.

18 A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit.

19 Every tree that doesn’t grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire.

20 Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.

21 Not everyone who says to me,’Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

22 Many will tell me in that day,’Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’

23 Then I will tell them,’I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’

24 “Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock.

25 The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand.

27 The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell-and great was its fall.”

28 It happened, when Jesus had finished saying these things, that the multitudes were astonished at his teaching,

29 for he taught them with authority, and not like the scribes.

*

THE LAST COUPLET COULD REFERENCE John 6:1-15 and the FEEDING OF THE MULTITUTES:

[1] After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.
[2] And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
[3] And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
[4] And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.
[5] When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
[6] And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
[7] Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
[8] One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,
[9] There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
[10] And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
[11] And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
[12] When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
[13] Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
[14] Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
[15] When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

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8 thoughts on “HD Blog 27: "grant us strength to endure"

  1. Hello–

    Thanks for visiting my blog the other day and sure, link away. This is an intriguing site…I now know where to come for all my alabaster needs.

    Cheers,
    Sandra

  2. Wow Rebel W/out a Clause: that’s a really smart title. Yeah. Funny.

    That’s like a pun, right? Or just a smart play on words.

  3. Hi there –
    I’m back for a quick visit. I’m sure H.D.’s reference to “flaming stones” falling on the children is directly related to the bombing of London. The honeycomb and alabaster are also Egyptian references, don’t you think, since H.D. was connecting the excavation of Karnak with the laying open of London.

    But poetry is always open to interpretation – and you’ve done a great job of identifying references.

  4. C- I’ve been a bloggin’ maniac lately. I’ve been reading so much with no outlet except for the blog. Anyways, please feel free to make any and all links to INTER-FACE. RE: Achiote, yes, and lets talk more about this over dinner this weekend?
    Yours
    J

  5. seth, i’m thinking of changing the blog title to “Their Blogs were Watching Gods” – whadya think…

    thanks sandra and jenny…

    ann, thanks for opening the references further! i def. agree that flaming is a reference to the bombing, and a kind of revision of the biblical question (that stones are now bombs). a nice touch by HD.

    i didnt know alabaster and honeycomb were references to the excavation of karnak! but that makes perfect sense…it seems that HD is again evoking both the biblical, the archeaological, and the war. such delicate parallels! and of course, this blog is not meant as definitive references, but simply to suggest “referential potential” — so thanks for adding to that potential and hope to hear your voice around more!!!

    jason, great!

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