Saturday, 11 July 2015

This Grundtvig poem never got into the anthology - in retrospect, I think it should have


The Tower of Babel

Beside the Euphrates in far Asian climes,
Where now live but tiger and lion,
Thronged dwarf-minded giants in pre-ancient times
To try out their skills strong as iron;
But the Lord God was ever their Master.

They said: What has never been heard of before,
And no one will emulate ever,
Of bricks let us build to the heavens a tower,
A landmark of human endeavour!
But the Lord God was ever their Master.

A city around it then let us build too,
So great that we’ll all be contained there,
Should hills be submerged by the river anew,
We’ll dare to cross swords on the plains there!
But the Lord God was ever their Master.

The clay was then kneaded, the bricks were all fired,
And glue was then boiled with elation,
They thought, it can’t fail for our plan is inspired,
It’s worthy of all admiration.
Yet the Lord God was ever their Master.

A language most wonderful all of them prized,
A relic of Eden’s past glory,
Which made all mankind here on earth fully wise,
And saved it much trouble and worry.
But the Lord God was ever their Master.

Then God said: I’ll have to! It’s for their own good!
Their speech all awry let’s be throwing!
And no more each other they then understood
Than horses can cocks when they’re crowing.
For the Lord God is ever their Master.

And Babel, confusion, was all they could say,
Each other they blamed, more’s the pity,
The name given, Babel, is there to this day –
The tower as well as the city.
For the Lord God was ever their Master.

And each went his way then, both grieving and dour,
Though equal, yet different they sounded
Just Nimrod a castle made out of the tower
And Babylon’s kingdom he founded.
For the Lord God was ever their Master.

Whenever the wise men now flock to the town,
And form a great tower t’ward the heavens,
God makes a new Babel and blows them all down
Like chaff they’re at sixes and sevens;
For the Lord God is ever their Master!