We come now to the 12th poem in my interwoven series of responses the the Book of Psalms. We have been praying these ancient texts together as a church for two thousand years, but each generation in their turn must make these prayers their own and bring them to bear on the way we live now, and this is what I am seeking to do in these poems. When I came to read the opening verses of this psalm:
- HELP me, Lord, for there is not one godly man left: for the faithful are minished from among the children of men,
- They talk of vanity every one with his neighbour: they do but flatter with their lips, and dissemble in their double heart.
And also the 4th verse in which the oppressors say: ‘with our tongue we will prevail’, I began to think about all the technology of communication, and the lives we live online. Like many people I have been alarmed not only by the anger and absence of charity in so much internet discourse but also about the insidious ways in which some social media platforms have turned their users into saleable ‘product’, harvesting and marketing our personal data. Now we have brought this on ourselves and I am very conscious of the irony of even discussing it on the very media I am criticising, though I have to say the appearance of my poetry on social media is only a stopgap, its true habitat os the good old fashioned book, or the in-person recitation, and of course I hope the readers of this page will eventually prefer to have a real book in their hands when these poems are eventually published.
Happily Psalm 12 doesn’t leave us in despair about the human abuse and cheapening of language, but brings us back to the redemptive words of God himself:
The words of the Lord are pure words: even as the silver, which from the earth is tried, and purified seven times in the fire.
And so in the end my poem too returns us to hope in the words of Christ himself. As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right. I hope you enjoy the poem.
To topple tyrants and exalt the low,
Up lord and help us! Hear our hapless sighs,
We have been cowed by ‘people in the know’,
The worldly wind us in a web of lies,
We have been flattered into servitude,
Snared with devices that the rich devise.
They purchase us with their fake plenitude,
They keep us clicking on false images.
The one percent control the multitude
With virtual distractions, online purchases,
Whose icons all prove idols in the end.
They market us as passive packages.
Send us instead your pure words, Jesus, send
Us hope, still silver-bright, tried in the fire,
Come down to free us, come as our true friend.