Yesterday, in the context of precious items, I mentioned the Nag Hammadi library, a collection of ancient Gnostic manuscripts discovered in a jar in Egypt in 1945, and subsequently translated from Greek. This morning, a weekly podcast I tune into had a guy talking about a poem which is possibly two thousand years old, and sits in the Nag Hammadi collection.
Anybody that wants to read the whole of ‘The Thunder, the Perfect Mind’ can do so at the http://gnosis.org/naghamm/thunder.html website. The author and date are unknown. There is an overwhelming simplicity and beauty to the words, which suggest a divine, powerful goddess laying down a challenge to humans to embrace the paradox of existence.
Here are a few sections that I particularly liked.
I am shameless; I am ashamed.
I am strength and I am fear.
I am she who exists in all fears
and strength in trembling.
Do not hate my obedience
and do not love my self-control.
I am peace,
and war has come because of me.
And I am an alien and a citizen.
I am a mute who does not speak,
and great is my multitude of words.
Hear me in gentleness, and learn of me in roughness.
For many are the pleasant forms which exist in numerous sins,
and disgraceful passions,
and fleeting pleasures,
which (men) embrace until they become sober
and go up to their resting place.
And they will find me there,
and they will live,
and they will not die again.
The podcast host mentioned another poem, Autobiography of Eve, this time by young contemporary poet Ansel Elkins. I love every line of this jail breakout.
Wearing nothing but snakeskin boots
I blaze a footpath
The first radical road out of that old kingdom
Toward a new unknown
When I came to those great flaming gates of burning gold
I stood alone in terror at the threshold
Between paradise and earth
There I heard a mysterious echo
My own voice
Singing to me from across the forbidden side
I shook awake – at once alive in a blaze of green fire
Let it be known
I did not fall from grace