The Worst Sinner, Jonathan Edwards’ God

The earliest sportsman in the earliest dawn,
waking to what redness, waking a killer,
saw the red cane was sweet in his red grip;
the blood of the shepherd matched the blood of the wolf.
But Jonathan Edwards prayed to think himself
worse than any man that ever breathed;
he was a good man, and he prayed with reason-
which of us hasn’t thought his same thought worse?
Each night I lie me down to heal in sleep;
two or three mornings a week, I wake to my sin-
sins, not sin; not two or three mornings, seven.
God himself cannot wake five years younger,
and drink away the venom in the chalice-
the best man in the best world possible.

~ Robert Lowell


  1. Quin Finnegan says

    By the way, I have dibs on “The Venom in the Chalice” for the title of my Father Dowling mystery novel.

  2. Rufus McCain says

    Lowell seems to be colliding and Edwards with Girard.

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    I was thinking exactly that when I posted it. Well, not ‘colliding’, which is the perfect description of his method in the penultimate period, but Girardian, yeah, definitely.

    Now that I think about it, there are a number of reflections on violence in this period, although I’m not sure where he falls on the sacrificial spectrum. One of my favorite lines is I want my words meathooked from the living spear….

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