Editor’s Corner Essay: The Holy Innocents
The Client-King, the Empire, and the Children
According to the Nativity story as told in the gospel of Matthew, the Magi (Zoroastrian sages who were also magicians and astrologers) during their study of the heavens saw a new star rise which they interpreted as signifying the birth of a royal-divine king. Guided by the westward movement of the star, they set out to find and worship this supernatural being now appearing on earth. When the star apparently stopped over Israel, they entered the capitol city Jerusalem and inquired at what would seem to be the logical place, the court of “King” Herod the Great, for particulars about the child. Hiding his alarm at this news of one who seemed fated to supplant him, Herod called together authorities on the scriptures and asked them to find any prediction that would tell him where the child of destiny was to be born. Bethlehem, they answered, citing a passage in Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem . . . out of you shall come a ruler who will be shepherd to my people Israel.”
Herod passed this information to the magi, asked them just when they first saw the star, and instructed them to return to him after they had found the child, as he wanted to go and worship him too. The sages appeared to swallow this unlikely wish, for after they did find the child, worshipped him and provided him with rich gifts, they needed special guidance from God in a dream telling them not to go back to Herod but to go home by another route. This they did.
Finding that he has been left dangling by the magi, the Herod went into a rage and sent his troops to kill all the babies and toddlers in Bethlehem under the age of two. Jesus escaped, thanks to dream-guidance Joseph received instructing him to take the family to Egypt; but the other infants of the town were murdered. The Western churches commemorate this terrible event at the Feast of the Holy Innocents, December 28.
The story, which is patterned on the Exodus account of the birth of Moses, is almost surely fictional, but its portrait of Herod is agonizingly true to life. He was about seventy and in poor health at the time of Jesus’ birth in (probably) 4 BCE, and a newborn could not have been a threat to him, but this massacre is the sort of thing he would not hesitate to do. Paranoid and cruel, he would order murders (even of his own wife Mariamne, whom he loved) and massacres at the slightest suggestion or suspicion. Other policies of his reign were employing plain-clothes police and torture chambers to control dissidents; taxing his peasant subjects within an inch of their lives--many children must have died of hunger-related diseases--using his part of the funds to build impressive monuments and cities which he would name after Caesar or some other public figure whose favors he was angling for. (The picture is an artist’s conception of Caesarea Maritima, a port he built on the Mediterranean coast and named in honor of Caesar Augustus.) He had turned himself into Herod the Monster-- a more appropriate title for him than Herod the Great.
Herod was indeed one of the worst. But as a client ruler under Rome, being compassionate and fair to his subjects was not an option for him. Rome expected huge tribute to continue flowing in; Rome expected complaints or dissent to be smashed, not given a fair hearing. At any sign that he was taking the people’s point of view rather than that of his superiors, he would have found himself out of his lucrative job. This is not to excuse his crimes, but to point out that the exploitation and violence the people suffered under him were not merely individual evils, but systemic. They were going on elsewhere in the Roman empire well as in Israel, and continued under Herod’s successors. Everywhere they looked, individuals, especially those with political power, got the message that “that’s the way the world is;” the Roman power structure tempted, supported, rewarded, and exonerated individuals who carried out its crimes.
The Guilty and the Innocent
It is abundantly clear that the powerful few at the top of the pyramid in Rome, or their upper-level clients such as Herod who enjoyed a substantial share of the great wealth sucked out of barely-surviving peasants, had stained themselves with the blood of many. This was literally true of those enablers of empire lower in the pecking order, the Roman Legions whose calloused hands performed the massacres, the city- and village-burnings, the crucifixions of rebels and others perceived to be threats to imperial order. Virtually all empires come into existence by violence, and all are maintained by threatened--or actual--violence.
Besides innocents such as the children memorialized by the church three days after Christmas, there were also adults among the oppressed in Israel who did no lawless act and sought no revenge, but only looked and prayed to God for deliverance and the coming of God’s rule instead of Rome’s, i.e., the Kingdom of God. But there were others who did not remain so innocent, but were both sinned against and sinning. As happens in many such stressful contexts, there were probably husbands, feeling powerless and emasculated, who took out their rage by verbally or physically battering their wives; mothers driven past endurance by the incessant crying of sick or hungry children who battered the children. There were unquestionably many who longed to turn the tables, to do to the Romans and the Herodians what these oppressors were doing to them. Occasional individuals turned to banditry or committed assassinations, and about every three generations there were major rebellions, all put down by Rome in horrifying bloodbaths.
Empire and Its Victims Today
We also live in what can be called an imperial situation today, with a vast and increasing economic gap between the small percentage of of wealthy people in power and the empire’s most downtrodden victims. In some important ways it is a transnational financial empire run by the One Percent in several countries, but with the US cabal as senior partner. All these plutocrats are in bed together, all have little or no scruple, all suck enormous wealth out of the defenseless, especially those in the “third world” countries over whom they exert economic control.
One way this empire differs from Rome’s, where the violence was daily before most colonists’ eyes (e.g., Legionnaires crucified their victims along the main roads to frighten the population into submission), is that in the developed countries today, especially the US, there is (as yet) a fairly large middle class with a tradition of democracy and liberty, and some voting power. The suffering of the most exploited of the human victims of this empire must be kept at a distance from such ordinary citizens, as must the ongoing violence to control them; thus those considered threats are not tortured in public but bundled off to secret sites abroad. The citizens’ approval is needed for military coups to squash any signs of independence and/or redistribution of wealth to the poor in economic colonies--as, e.g., in Guatemala in 1954 and Chile in 1973. This approval is gained by presenting the empire’s violence as a heroic struggle against an (exaggerated) international threat. For decades this threat was Communism. After the fall of the Soviet Union, plans were laid to fashion another bogey out of a real but relatively minor peril, so that US-Americans could again be frightened into supporting the empire’s repression and violence.
This last cryptic statement calls for unpacking, but our main topic here is not the suffering of human victims of the empire, terrible as that is, but that of its animal victims. As long as the world’s population was largely rural and agricultural, the enslavement and killing of animals for food was a daily part of farm and village life, visible to the majority of the people. But as the raising and “processing” of animals fell increasingly into the control of a few giant industries heavily subsidized and supported by the US government, farmed animals became another category of imperial victims. And they, like the murdered infants in Matthew’s Nativity story, may be called Holy Innocents.
They are holy because God lives in them, loves them, and loves through them, as God does all her/his children. (Our “Glimpses of the Peaceable Kingdom” are examples of the “loving through them.”) As to their innocence--those of us who have visited sanctuary farms have been amazed to be able to stroke many gentle animals--cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys--and yet hear of the horrible abuse they endured before they were rescued from their misery and their destiny in the slaughterhells. Not only were they innocent then, they remained conspicuously innocent afterwards, seemingly forgiving our human species for the atrocities visited on them. (Could we have done the same?. . . ) Their innocence is particularly evident in the bizarre White House practice of “pardoning” a turkey (of unstated crimes) just before Thanksgiving, while another takes her or his place in being chopped into edibles for the table.
Of course there are also instances of abused animals who after rescue are far from gentle, are in fact dangerous to humans. Surprisingly, with love and patience it has proved possible to heal some of these victims (see Cathy Hanan’s review of The Lost Dogs, PT 74 ). But even if a traumatized animal could not be rehabilitated in this way, we would not consider him or her to be guilty; it appears that most (if not all) animals are unable to choose otherwise. They remain essentially Innocents, while sin and its guilt remain a collective and individual human burden. If only the churches who hold up to memory the long-ago Innocents killed by Herod and Rome would open their collective eyes and heart, and begin by decreeing a holy day to commemorate today’s furry and feathered Holy Innocents!
Collective Sin and Guilt
Many people have difficulty thinking of cruel and violent acts against either people or animals as sin, let alone understanding its nature as both systemic and individual. Sin, as theologian Marjorie Suchocki remarks, has fallen on hard times. Until early modern times, Christendom affirmed its collective nature with the concept of original sin: that as a result of Adam and Eve’s act in Eden, the human race is weighed down by an inclination to disobey God and wrong other people. Out of this universal tendency to sin arise individuals’ evil deeds. Although the concept refers to something real and important, its mythical form eventually made it unacceptable to many. After seventeenth-century thinker Pierre Bayle launched a satirical attack on Adam in his popular Dictionnaire, Suchocki points out, the doctrine of original sin has never been the same. Sin and guilt have more and more tended to be seen as individual matters. (Sin has been further trivialized by being linked almost exclusively to culturally-prohibited sexuality or other indulgences, so that it becomes vaguely attractive.)
Most of us can’t build an understanding of Original Sin by taking the Adam and Eve story literally any more. But we do need a way to understand corporate evil as the corrupt matrix that was there before we were born and makes evil acts seem acceptable, because the degree of guilt or innocence of those of us caught up in cultural evil may vary widely. This issue is particularly important for us who advocate for animals; it affects our ability to connect, and to open the eyes and hearts of the person on the street (or rather at the table).
A good example of almost certain miscommunication due to failure to distinguish between cultural and individual sin is the slogan “Meat is Murder” that was prominent some years ago, and which unfortunately still has not been withdrawn. It is much more likely to put people off than convince them to withdraw from the system. Murder refers to an individual sin, either committed with deliberate malice, or as a result of blameable negligence, or from flashpoint violence due to the killer’s habitual out-of-control rages. But killing animals for their flesh is first a cultural and imperial sin. Unreflecting adults who have consumed the flesh since their childhood, because everyone they know does so, are funding the killing; but many are still quasi-innocent. As individuals they are not complicit in murder until they are informed, in a viable way, about what is going on. This awakening may be a very slow process, taking years, while the persons move uneasily between lost quasi-innocence and awareness of guilt.
A stiff refusal to awaken, acknowledge one’s share of guilt, and make changes is a particular temptation for people of limited means whose jobs are on the line: for example, slaughterhell employees or supermarket employees handling meat, the struggling “sharecroppers” raising animals for the giant meat industries, or the few independent “livestock” farmers still in business. It is especially the case during this prolonged recession when finding new jobs is so hard. Upton Sinclair understood this fact well and expressed it in his well-known adage “It’s hard to make a man understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” We should be
informed about, and sympathize with, the anxieties such people must face if they let this part of their hearts come back to life (as, sooner or later, they must), and gather their courage to withdraw from the system. John Robbins’ true story “The Pig Farmer” (See Pig Farmer ) is an inspiring example of what such human beings are capable of doing and being.
It may be harder for us to sympathize with those who are not at all dependent on the system for their livelihoods, but resist awakening, and assert their right to keep consuming the packages of mutilated flesh which the evil system produces. But we must continue to reverence the Light in each of them. The seed planted in their hearts may send up a green shoot in time, sometimes years after its first planting. It did for me.
--Gracia Fay Ellwood
Sources: The Liberation of Christmas by Richard Horsley; “Original Sin Revisited” by Marjorie Suchocki; Victor, An Unfinished Song by Joan Jara; The American Empire and the Commonwealth of God by David Ray Griffin et al.; and online sources.
The cemetery scene, in Santiago, Chile, shows graves of a few of the thousands murdered during and after the American-funded coup of Sept. 11, 1973. The red-lined marker commemorates Victor Jara, a well-known and much-beloved singer and activist. His gravesite became a shrine even during the Pinochet years, when visiting it was dangerous.
Ours is a world of many nations, each of whom has a right to be here, together with the right to see and experience the world their way, not ours--and when the gulf between one of those worlds and another is bridged, a gate as fabulous as any into the Heavenly Jerusalem is opened.
--Robert S. Ellwood
. . . . the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.--Romans 8:21
Do you remember the story of the rescue of the whale entangled in fishing lines in San Francisco Bay, which climaxed with the newly-free animal going up to each rescuer in turn for an “I-Thou” thank you? Here is a similar story of the freeing of a young humpback from a gill net in the Sea of Cortez, who showed her joy by putting on an hour-long show of tail slaps, fin slaps and full-body breeches. See Freed Whale .
--Contributed by Maria Elena Nava
A Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom
Some say that cats have been known to eat birds. But friends don’t eat their friends!
Contributed by Maria Elena Nava
Pioneer: Titus Flavius Clement, ca. 150 - 215 C.E.
This month’s pioneer, a philosopher and teacher of the early church usually called Clement of Alexandria (to avoid confusion with another worthy, Clement of Rome), was overall a man of generous and broad mind. Some examples: although religious thinkers of the day, Clement among them, tended to be ascetic in some ways, he does not forget that for Christians, an affirmation that the earth is God’s good creation is the bedrock of faith. He defends partying and other forms of gaity as essentially innocent pleasures; he even regrets the thoughtless picking of flowers, because in their natural state they beautify the earth. During a period when males already controlled the church, he defends women, asserting their/our right to leadership; he also sometimes uses female images for God. He is open to the Greek culture of his day and seeks to show that in its essence it is consonant with Christianity.
His vigorous defence of vegetarianism is based in part on the Pythagorean tradition, but Clement does not go into reincarnation (though his pupil Origin was to do so). In his essay Gnostic Memoirs upon the True Philosophy, he says “Pythagoras seems to me to have derived his mildness towards irrational animals from the [Hebrew] Law.” The idea that the Greek thinkers borrowed from the Jewish scriptures was a mistaken idea common in his time, but he is correct that in this area, Pythagoreanism and scriptural passages commanding decent treatment of domestic animals are in sympathy. “For instance, he [Pythagoras] forbade the employment of the young of sheep and goats and cows for some time after their birth: not even on the pretext of sacrifice allowing it, on account both of the young ones and of the mother; training men to gentleness by their conduct toward those beneath them.” He approvingly cites Pythagoras’ demand that the newborn be allowed to stay with their mothers for the proper time: “For if nothing takes place without a cause, and milk is produced in large quantity in parturition for the sustenance of the progeny, [then] he who tears away the young one from the supply of the milk and the breast of the mother, dishonours Nature.” (Good advice for present-day dairymen, who won’t hear it. . . .) Clement also shows his compassion by condemning the hellishly cruel practices of the slaughterers of his day, practices intended to kill fetuses together with their pregnant mothers, or make flesh more tender; such horrors are incompatible with what God commanded in the [Hebrew] Bible, he tells us.
Another motivation in Clement’s defence of vegetarianism is a felt need for a sense of balance and proportion in regard to eating. He was clearly disgusted by the excesses common among the upper classes of his day [which included feasts with so many (meat-heavy) courses that diners would slip out to the “vomitories” to throw up what they had eaten in one course, in order to make room for the next one]. He comments “Some men live that they may eat, as the irrational beings whose life is their belly and nothing else.” He tells us it should be the other way around: we should eat that we may live. Health and strength come from plain, simple fare; he notes that domestic servants and farm workers are stronger and healthier than their masters. “Is there not, within a temperate simplicity, a wholesome variety of food--vegetables, roots, olives, herbs, milk, cheese and fruits?” By contrast, the gluttons “nourish their own diseases.” Again, astute advice for our times, when so many people are overweight and sick, trapped by a flesh-and-dairy-heavy diet.
In sum, it is unnatural, says Clement, for life to depend on death; it is inhuman to fatten ourselves on dead cattle. The implication is that life thrives rather on that which lives, and that in our true essence, we human beings respect other creatures and treat them fairly. There is so much kindness and good sense here, that if Clement was not altogether perfect--he does not challenge enslaving animals, and perhaps neglects the valid pleasures of eating the tasty, nonviolent food in God’s good world--we cannot really complain. We owe him much.
Sources: Colin Spencer, The Heretic’s Feast, pp. 121-23; “Clement of Alexandria,” in The Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol. 3, pp. 1822-23; and “Clement of Alexandria,” Wikipedia.
Book Review: The Elephant Whisperer
Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence, The Elephant Whisperer: My Life With the Herd in the African Wild. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2012. 384 pp., $16.99 paper. (Also published as The Elephant Whisperer: Learning about Life, Loyalty and Freedom from a Remarkable Herd of Elephants. The two books are the same.)
The October 2012 issue of The Peaceable Table presented, as an Editor’s Corner Guest Essay, the dramatic story of what happened after the death of the main author of this book, Lawrence Anthony. He died on Friday, March 2, 2012. "Early the next week, his family experienced the arrival of a solemn procession of elephants whose presence defied human explanation; a day later, a second herd arrived. For two days the herds remained at Anthony's rural compound on the vast Thula Thula game reserve," in a remote part of South Africa. Such an entirely-unprompted tribute by two separate processions of large animals for a member of our species is almost unimaginable, yet by eyewitness accounts, it happened. This book, finished shortly before Anthony's regrettably early death, helps us understand why.
Lawrence Anthony (1950-2012), who spent much of his life in the bush of southern Africa, had become owner and manager of the Thula Thula private game reserve. At the beginning of the narrative, he was offered the opportunity to accept a herd of "rogue" elephants, which otherwise was to have been destroyed. These elephants hated humans, probably with good reason given the poaching and abuse which neither Anthony nor other authorities could easily control, and no one else wanted them. Though all reason told him he should not take on this responsibility, in the end Anthony could not say no.
After the animals had been trucked in, Anthony's initial contact with Nana, the enraged matriarch, as he tried to keep her and her followers from breaking out of the temporary enclosure in the huge tract that was to be their new home, is a dramatic story of an angry, confrontive animal finally somehow finding a "tiny spark of recognition," a glimmer of trust in the human being trying to help her. That spark needed (and received) much more work, but in time it became the foundation of an extraordinary adventure in inter-species friendship.
In the process we learn a great deal about elephants. Their long memories are well known, and recent findings show more and more that their intelligence and emotional lives may well approach the human. Yet what a different kind of "humanity" that would be from within! No hands or fingers for fine work, but instead a super-sensitive elongated nose. They do not speak words like ours, but actually seem able to communicate one herd to another through sounds generated by the stomach, and messages, like that of a disaster--often human-caused--or of the death of a friend like Anthony, can spread across vast areas of Africa with amazing speed.
It is possible to respect elephants, yet for that respect to be mixed with sadness. Something about their solemn expression, ponderous gait, long rememberings and many tragedies may suggest that theirs is a melancholy wisdom. Yet Anthony also reveals that the other side can emerge at the right time as well. Elephant children play, the young make love, the herd can almost sing and dance when the mood is right.
The book is replete with many more accounts revealing Anthony's ability to reach elephants, not by sign nor word alone, but through some kind of inner virtually mind-to-mind awareness. Many people feel compassion for animals, can share with them the fun of play or love, and can sense well enough something of what an animal is "saying." But I would not hesitate to say that very few of us are at the level of Lawrence Anthony's almost uncanny ability to get into the life and feelings -- one might even say the spiritual world -- of another species, and the animals knew it. This remarkable and unforgettable book is a vicarious experience of this way of life. It is hard to imagine that anyone, after reading The Elephant Whisperer, could think of elephants, or any other comparable species, as other than "animal kin" thereafter.
A beautiful example of the kind of mutual confidence Anthony and the originally rogue elephants developed is seen when Nana, who was pregnant when she came to Thula Thula, gave birth to her baby. Anthony found the herd, who had sequestered themselves to protect the new mother and infant; but knowing how dangerous a threatened mother elephant is, he stayed at a respectful distance in his vehicle. But to his amazement, Nana came up to his jeep leading her tiny son; she reached her trunk in to touch Anthony gently, then touched her little one. Clearly she was saying “My friend, I want you to meet my precious, perfect baby!” Anthony, astonished and gratified by this tribute to his trustworthiness, of course praised her achievement to the skies. Later, he reciprocated her trust when a new grandson was born into his family; proudly holding the infant, he let Nana, with her entourage staying obediently behind her, come close and admire him (while the baby’s nervous mother hovered close at hand).
Unfortunately, Anthony was not vegetarian--he had no objection to “hunting for the pot,” and in fact there are some signs that he ate meat-heavy meals (which ironically may have caused the heart attack that took his life). So there is animal death as well as new life in the story. The book strikes a balance, with fascinating, sometimes humorous, accounts of other facets of life at Thula Thula: titanic battles with ruthless poachers, and no less with intrusive businesses and bureaucrats; the escapades of tourists, largely European; Lawrence's beautiful and delightful Parisian wife Françoise who aspired to make the place a fashionable resort with gourmet cuisine, and largely succeeded; sometimes delicate relations with neighboring Zulu tribes with their venerable traditions and lordly elders; even magic and witchcraft, which Anthony found he had to take seriously.
But it all comes back to the elephants; however "human" Lawrence Anthony was in all other respects, his remarkable gift enables us to see aright that ours is a world of many nations, each of whom has a right to be here, together with the right to see and experience the world their way, not ours--and when the gulf between one of those worlds and another is bridged, a gate as fabulous as any into the Heavenly Jerusalem is opened.
The ancient Rabbi Tarfon, as cited by Herman Wouk in his This Is My God, said, "The work is not yours to finish; but neither are you free to take no part in it." This maxim can be our guide today so far as the animal work is concerned. Surely Lawrence Anthony took his part and more, and his book is recommended to all who wish to deepen their awareness of what that part might be. Besides, it’s a page-turner!
The photo of the baby elephant is not Nana’s newborn; the wonderful scene in which Nana showed him off to Anthony unfortunately was not caught on film.
Vegan Chocolate Cake for Christmas
(and for Jane Austen’s Birthday)
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
⅓ cup unsweetened fair trade cocoa powder
½ teas. baking soda
½ teas salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water
2 teas vanilla extract
2 T cider vinegar
Chocolate raspberry glaze (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously oil an 8-inch square or round baking pan and dust with a little sifted cocoa, or line the bottom with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar. In another bowl, combine the oil, water, and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well-blended and smooth. Add the vinegar and stir briefly. The baking soda will begin to react with the vinegar right away, leaving pale swirls in the batter. Quickly pour the batter into the baking pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Transfer to a plate when cool, and glaze.
Chocolate Raspberry Glaze
1 ⅔ cups raspberry jam
1 ½ cups fair trade chocolate chips
1 T. water
2 T cashew nut butter (optional)
In a double boiler or small, heavy saucepan over a medium flame, melt ⅓ cup raspberry jam with the chocolate chips, and mix thoroughly. (If thicker glaze is desired, include the cashew nut butter as the mixture melts.) In another small saucepan, mix 1 1/3 cups jam with the 1 T water and warm over a low flame until the spread liquefies. Brush the water-jam mixture over the top of cooled cake. Spread the chocolate mixture on top of that. Allow the glaze to cool before cutting the cake. Serves 8.
--Contributed by Rochelle Voirol
1/4 cups soft coconut oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 12 cups ripe Hachiya persimmon puree (about 3 fruits)
1/3 cup molasses
3 T egg replacer
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup boiling water
1/3 cup chopped almonds, toasted
Oil for baking pan
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Place brown sugar and soft coconut oil in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add persimmon puree (See Pointers below), molasses, and egg replacer; beat well (about 1 minute). Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Sift together flour and next 6 ingredients (through cloves). Add flour mixture and 1/3 cup boiling water alternately to persimmon mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in almonds. Pour batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with oil. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into 12 squares.
Persimmon Puree Pointers: Ripe Hachiya puree is easy to make by following these tips: To speed the ripening process, freeze the fruit overnight or until solid. Thaw the persimmon; when soft, it will be sweeter and less astringent. Cut the ripe fruit in half. Scoop the pulp out with a spoon. To achieve an even consistency, place the flesh in a mini-chopper and process until smooth. This ensures the persimmon puree will incorporate evenly into the batter.
Poetry: John Milton, 1608-1674
from Paradise Lost
The sixth, and of creation last, arose
With ev’ning harps and matin; when God said
“Let the earth bring forth souls living in her kind,
Cattle and creeping things, and beast of the earth,
Each in their kind.”
The earth obeyed, and straight
Opening her fertile womb teemed at a birth
Innumerous living creatures, perfect forms,
Limbed and full grown. Out of the ground up rose
As from his lair the wild beast, where he wonns
In forest wild, in thicket, brake, or den;
Among the trees in pairs they rose, they walked;
The cattle in the fields and meadows green
Those rare and solitary, these in flocks
Pasturing at once, and in broad herds upsprung,
The grassy clods now calved;
now half appeared
The tawny lion, pawing to get free
His hinder parts, then springs as broke from bonds,
And rampant shakes his brinded mane; the ounce,
The libbard, and the tiger, as the mole
Rising, the crumbled earth above them threw
In hillocks; the swift stag from under ground
Bore up his branching head; scarce from his mould
Behemoth, biggest born of earth, upheaved
His vastness; fleeced the flocks and bleating rose,
As plants; ambiguous between sea and land
The river horse and scaly crocodile.
At once came forth whatever creeps the ground,
Insect or worm; those waved their limber fans
For wings, and smallest lineaments exact
In all the liveries decked of summer’s pride,
With spots of gold and purple, azure and green:
These as a line their long dimension drew,
Streaking the ground with sinuous trace . . . .
The parsimonious emmet, provident
Of future, in small room large heart inclosed.
Pattern of just equality perhaps . . . .
Now heav’n in all her glory shone, and rolled
Her motions, as the great First Mover’s hand
First wheeled their course; earth in her rich attire
Consummate lovely smiled; air, water, earth,
By fowl, fish, beast, was flown, was swum, was walked . . . .
Stanza divisions not in original.
Painting by the School of Ferdinand van Kessel, 1647-1696