The work of Prof. Eugene Narrett (see also his page in the “Hexagon Forum”) builds on the common ground between the classical Western tradition and the holy tradition of Israel. His website,, is one of the most informed sources about the situation of Israel and the West, and he has recently posted there two articles, The Highest Wisdom and Beauty and The Holy Temple: Soul, Knowledge and Beauty, which explore the spiritual dimension of aesthetics.



A New Light, Like Flowers - He Who Brings My Prayer – Refinement of Soul - They Said I would Be Judged - Seven from Three - When I Rejected Samael - A Play for Happiness - Thus I Inherit Shadows


A New Light, like Flowers


In my new garden, crickets sing for souls

Hungering terribly at the uncertain time

That promises but is not day or night;

By the bronze well prayers dug, with water cold

For thirsting seasons, and souls starved for rhyme

And reason, the King invites our carnival delights

To enter with the Queen, conjoined, sublime…


Thus rising from the root of protocol,

Commanded by the One Who knows in full

The form of soul, sing wisdom of new light; like flowers, unfold. 




He Who Brings My Prayer


He, my soul, who brings the fountain from the roots

Of charm God crafted with the charities

Of one who never, till so late, had peace

In the way dreamers do, tossing for truths

Like boys who ride the waves release

Lives of enforced prudence and malaise

Beat on the shore. But kindness still asserts its majesties.


He forms birds from His sparks, each child from seed,

And sees inside our passion as we plead;

Mistakes matter: He clothes the prophet with our needs.




Refinement of Soul


I say, strength or weakness,

Master or beaten ones:

That’s the point of wisdom.

Two facts of life feed forever on each other

Damning and biting, deaf to grace:

Sit to table with the dead face;

Live in horror; conquer…


Integrity is just another word

In an illiterate world

That receives no light, being itself obscure...


Embittered us, they did, like childless Hannah.

More bitter now, death in all life though one would bless,

Lying in all love and nothing fair…


The smell of blood dissembled by centuries of prayer,

By letters thought, formed, spoken, dreamed into being,

Dreaming us, names and heart; blood patches and smears.

Its job done, no one wants to keep the bandage.

After work, after the job,

The smell of blood is the smell of weakness,

Of privacy exposed, of intimate secrets

Cast to the surface, not like a corpse

By cannon thunder on a river,

But pitiful hopes thrown to the noontime air,

Tearing, torn, spoilt,

By ministers of justice in bad times, --

A storm wind has swept them away,

Millennia of hopes, of faith defied…

Intimate secrets honestly on the surface

Not for show, my treasure,

But because someone, something tore them out.

That’s shame, that’s the way of the corpse,

Rotten and corrupt as only innocence can be

Acquiring its end, place and unction…

The intimate must be hidden or absolutely shameless,

Forget the middle ground; forget the tongue’s imitations;

You dare not compromise with golden apples…


For you the pain is passing, -- love these words;

The pain is passing; reward is in the other world.


So much of what we are and do’s intimidation,

That’s the point: scare them off before they wound or eat you.

The pack is snarling, pound them into dust.

Only with the near or dear is kindness

More than the touch of skin, a sign of creatures

Camped in the same field, fighting for place, which is pride.

Be proud before you sleep.

We have forgotten what a family is…


Woe to those that heed the moral teaching,

Who carry it to the world without funds or guard;

Woe to them that fail to find a mate, the discards

In these recycling ages...

If the road be tried without protection

The ponderous horse goes down

And the cart shafts crack like a shattered mountain.

Just so the stricken body exposes its shame,

The mind screaming silently as it sees

The towers fall, the body overpowered.

So it was, unless spiritualized by fast,

By the clothing and above all, the pure face

Of patient anguish, upright and ragged,

The face and heart sustained by faith

While the body wears whatever clothes will fit:

The ragged coat, the pitifully tattered scarf,

Fingers knotted with cold or rheum,

And the clear brow that knows where it is and who,

And every garment, every lampshade,

Each last translucent soul knows what to say

And how to clench the fingers into signs

We recognize in heart,

Remembering no matter what game’s been played.


Refinement of soul: they say each pile of broken limbs,

Each pitiful trusting animal

Was part of a millennial process, each soul

Participating in the soul of the nation’s triumph

Through fire, out of evil, good, at last

Rebuking evil’s accusations…

While the refiner sits with scarred hands above his silver

Bowling golden apples,

Ageless eyes waiting with inhuman patience

While generations of poor wood-men

Forge arms and hopes for the petty fires of Grodno,

Minsk, and Vilna with Poniar unforgotten,

Vilna, Kovno and Sedlits

With the leather-cutter tramping to Ruzhnoi

Or Volkavisk until the fires burned out.

The painter proudly holds his brush

And we all go back to the woods and swamps

Of the old familiar East, leather boots and vests,

Prayer, humility and sanctioned jealousies

That saved and simmered part of the mist.


Their sanctification requires

The desolating seventh, time to heal.

The evil kingdom will not share its fruits,

The desolation of Emmet

In shadows and lies, ruin from the roots.


Remembering their strength and their reserve,

Refusal of shame as we describe it,

Of anything left for others to know

Beyond their simple clothing and honestly

Shrewd or simple faces; how they passed

Beyond the science of their degradation;

Remembering their strength, what can I do but praise them?

Should I sit scratching at my table scraps?

These little nails, shavings of wood,

These starveling meals and ruined boots,

The various parchments I’ve tried to pray?

Me, the blurred parchment will make a way

Better than theirs?

One can forget but not improve.

Can I, remembering the pure forehead of faith

And honest poverty, praise predators of blood,

Shameless shame-creators in their forms of strength?

In their own way, the early ones had pride;

They came from the east and struck down kings...


Here I am, dragging myself into precincts of shame

Out in the half-light with my dimming eyes

Feeling rain soak the ruin, seeing the face of death

In my own face for the first time

Some years ago, blessed before the postscript

That tells the unknown and Mt. Nevo;

The animals made me intimate in public,

They put me in the swamp.

One must pretend it doesn’t matter, now

Or they’ll do it again, hunting down the name.


So I re-fashion my gaze and grace, my eyes

And my good heart

Wistful for the light as the mind goes down,

Strange feeling… there it goes.

So here I am so late in some holy weakness

Having been torn from whatever it is

I was, that is, I tried to be.

Pride, neighbors, place, the woods,

The pure brow and ragged cloths of prayer,

The entire kept and missionary life

Devoted, they used to say, ‘selflessly’ to ideals.

And I was, and they beat it out of me;

In the blood they showed me my humanity.

And the ages passed, the images and artifacts,

Mementos and memories and pledges of allegiance

And failures to lie the right way

All passed on the path of refinement.

All the dross of my earthy heart,

The Fool: ‘I would fain learn to lie…’

Even my ability to print it up

With these failing eyes and habit hand of strength,

That lovable and necessary monster

Of the diminished seventh: “cut the cord”

I heard the doctor murmuring…

Hungering for treasures from heaven

On the dirt road to what they call, ‘the dark tower,’

The Ship of death where I was mate,

For holding my peace well-beaten;

Or is it perfection wrought by soul?

We’ll go and look it up.

Flags and lampshades and little lights run along

The troupe of my community, my company:

And you know, after all these prayers, for whom we play.


So that’s the title of the song,

“Refinement of Soul”

Where artisans of sacred letters get

Their hopes into the cups of kindness...




They Said I would Be Judged


They said I would be judged, to set down

My baggage and move on for ticketing.

They know us weeping ones by our heart-scent

And tell us off, the bitter numbers stamped

With hard commissions, bosses from stage left.

No use for wounds to speak: accused, the groan

Is held against you till it rasps your lamp

To dust, years powdered by their bickering.


They stood me in a red spot: action; go…

The film was called ‘the Wall,’ and many times

I ran against it, fell, and rained my hopes again

By script upon it; for years they shot, committing crimes

They charged to me. Re-designed by pain,

When the crew leaves, I’ve nothing left to show.




Seven from Three


Folly brought me to wisdom, a tired trek

Of seeming magic, wealth to poverty

And seed, the joy of truth, made desolate

Like peace to shadow war, victory’s defeat.

On television, people smile, persons do…

Dominion’s ardor, crushed, becomes servility,

Defiled root makes war not love: death.

Gives horror for most, grace for a few.


The lamps of creation have been explained;

Those are excited, busy; these are bored.

Well-shadowed knowledge is the soul’s true form

Another language than the courts of law…

Before they die, heroes make miracles,

Poems whose soul of life may outlive pain…



But there’s no crown here, just a sonnet with a codicil.




When I Rejected Samael


No longer will I heed suave Samael

Who’s used his wives as bait to dull my eyes,

Baffling my ears with his daughter-bride who swept

Me to her tangling lap, the spindle of eternity

Robed and sashed for displays of pride

That scare me to this day; and when I wept

It scarred me with blood-rust memorials;

No longer will I trust suave Samael…


What Agrat gave me as a lifelong prize

Were thorns that only blinded eyes collect,

Prayers for Raziel meant she’d intercept

And chortling handle till they died,

Small forms lost even to Elijah’s powers:

The wicked kingdom made us pray

Pen in hand, bleeding letters pain-fired…

No longer will I heed suave Samael.


A soul has much innate perfection

Purchasing melodies with pain:

A master writes that after resurrection

The body will know great enlightenment

Like snow-fields with a brighter stain.

Degrees of light reflecting deeds of love

With Samael’s wives forming my lamp’s shade.

Still, he writes, I may elevate myself.


Thus nineteen grows to teaching age

By unity, however sad, of heart

Where one remains, the Way of God ‘above’...


He stood before the weeping angel’s well

Turning mad laughter from its ways to heal;

And when I silent was, said, ‘Samael

Made through her heaven, earth and also hell;’

And there was nothing left to wish for or to tell.




A Play for Happiness


It happens twice a month or thereabouts, --

Making a play for happiness, I say

‘Everybody wins, even me, sometimes’ and go

Down to the liquor store, my spirit feasting

Like a child on clever names and colors gay.

I enter eternity, spirits in clouds

Tricked for my eyes and hopes, a swimmer breasting

Faith’s ebbing tide, echoing like a bad joke.


Only five minutes budgeted for dreams,

I’m an ascetic trained to reserve myself

For rarer pleasures, psalms, etudes, whatever

Serves the day’s order of prayer; as earth

Drinks seed and sweat and blood, I drink to health

But float at midnight merrily down stream. 




Thus I Inherit Shadows


Thus I inherit shadows of night’s gift,

Image-making for the Sabbath feast, place

Ruled by want, living briefly but to tell

Writing on the wrong side like a night shift

Of sacred letters, drifting toward the long reach

Where we read the page, not the dying face;

Truth erred. If such would be, it would be well

Living for one’s end as the old books teach...


So I remember a few good works, more

Than a few, if it matters, as I stand

At the far end of a twilight beach again, reading,

Wondering what to write so someone dear

Will read: so I’ll stand at midnight, day’s true end,

While dance and dancers whirl by pleading.




Ashes, Ashes


Would I be foolish, follow youth’s desires

Or bathe in hyssop and defy hot liars?


It’s simple now to judge since I stand higher

By years of suffering to see what it meant:

Could I again be foolish with youth’s desires?


In soul’s simple-hearted way I built my pyre,

Making songs about the things that burnt:

For many years I studied in hot fires.


I listened to them singing, and their choir

I joined, song of myself, beyond concern

These lights were foolish, following youth’s desires.


Until a party ended in a mire

Of cold gray pain, a swamp in darkness earned

And reason, years of ashes from my fires.


So standing at the gate I still inquire

After my old way, song, for time’s true choir;

Should I be foolish, following youth’s desires,

Or bathe in hyssop, lighting different fires?