Mary Borden: Where is Jehovah?

A poem a day
International WWI Poetry Month

Where is Jehovah?

Mary Borden (USA, 1916)

Where is Jehovah, the God of Israel, with his Ark and his Tabernacle and his Pillars of Fire?
He ought to be here; this place would suit him.
Here is a people pouring through a wilderness;
Here are armies camping in a desert;
Their little tents are like sheep flocking over the prairie,
It's all in the style of the God of Israel.
Here is a land that was silent and desolate, suddenly covered with noise and confusion,
The wide, white plains and the shallow grey valleys are smeared over with the disorder of armies.
Picardy is shaking with a fever,
Picardy's hills are wounded and broken,
Picardy's fields are scarred as with small-pox,
What a chance for His prophets!
What a playground for miracles!
A host of men at the end of their strength, fighting death, fighting terror, with no one to worship,
He need but lift his finger,
Here are all his pet properties ready to hand, the thunder, the lightning, the clouds and the fire,
This is His Hour, but Jehovah has missed it.
This is not His thunder nor His lightning.
These are not His people.
These are the armies of France and of England.
The thunder is the thunder of their guns, and the lightning that runs along the horizon is the flash of their guns. Moses is dead, and Joshua who led his people into the promised land is dead, and there are no more prophets to cry through the wilderness to warn or to comfort these people.
They must look after themselves.
All the host of them, each one of them, quite alone each one of them, every one of the hundred thousand of them, alone, must stand up to meet the war.
With the sky cracking,
With creatures of wide metal wings tearing the sky over his head,
With the earth shaking,
With the solid earth under his feet giving way, v With the hills covered with fire and the valleys smoking, and the few bare trees spitting bullets; and the long roads like liquid iron torrents, rolling down on him with guns and iron food for guns---always guns and more guns ---with these long roads rolling down like cataracts, to crush him and no way of escape,
With the few houses broken open-no sides, no covers to them, no protection anywhere,
With all of the universe coming down on him, the cold dark storm of death coming full on him,
With the men near him going mad, jibbering, sobbing, twisting,
With his comrade lying dead under his feet,
With the enemy beyond there-unseen, mysterious,
With eternity waiting, the great silence and emptiness waiting beyond the noise of the cannon,
With the memory of his home haunting him and the face of a woman expectant,
With the soft echoes of his children's laughter sounding, and shells bursting with roars near him, but not drowning those small voices
He stands there. He keeps on standing; he stands solid.
He is so small, so quiet in the iron storm.
Why does he stand there? What keeps him standing there?
Is he not a lost sheep?
Why does he not turn, run, rush, scramble back through the rain, wind and thunder of iron, bleating with terror?
Why does he wait to die, and die so quietly, so humbly, with hope still looking back from his eyes?
Where is the Good Shepherd? And where is Jehovah?
Why does He hide, wait, avoid this thing?
If this is His world, if it is He that made it,
Let Him come and put an end to it.
Let Him not escape it.
Find Him. Bring Him down here. Hunt Him out in Heaven you flying ghosts of the dead and bring Him.
Bring someone, some mighty God, Baal, Beelzebub, the Powers of Darkness-anything, anyone-anyone who will put an end to this.
Or a Piteous God, Christ the Son, He who was crucified. Oh, God, Piteous Son of God, where is God the Father?
You, the great God, the King of Kings and Lord of Hosts;
The One who drowned mercifully the children of men;
Let the waters cover the earth again. Let there be an end to it----an end.