Bible Poem

The following is a poem I wrote in March 1995 in response to the readings and discussions in a Bible-as-literature course I was taking at Oberlin College. This poem contains a lot of biblical references, some of which are part of our pop culture, some of which are not. I've footnoted most of them, because I'm a geek. :) I did not originally intend for it to have the anti-man tone it does (there isn't a satisfactory analog for the word "misogynist") but I guess I had some anger to get out. That's what poetry is all about, right?

Moses was a savior, cleansed by war,
Yet when I smite the stone of my despair
There comes forth not blood1 but tears;
I am Niobe2 and Ruth3, crying in the field
Mourning the stolen children of my body.
And if I follow Moses through my own Red Sea
Will I find the Promised Land in my soul?
Perhaps not:
Perhaps only Astarte4, who will dry my tears
with the heat of her anger as she digs
For her buried legacy of worship,
Crushed under the steepled bodies5 of the millenia,
Father, Son, Holy Ghost and empty.
The Trinity begs the question
(Goneril, Regan, Cordelia or not to be?6)
Have they not mothers?
I will make of thee a great nation, saith the Lord,
And Sarah laughs7 because it is she who truly shall make.
Let the day perish wherein it was said, There is a manchild conceived8
For life, the woman giveth and the man taketh away.


[1] In Exodus 7:20, Moses smites a stone and causes blood to come forth.
[2] According to Greek legend, Niobe's children were killed after she bragged of their beauty to a goddess. She then turned into a stone which weeps continuously.
[3] See the Book of Ruth, especially 4:13-17.
[4] Astarte, Sumerian earth-goddess, was worshipped across the Indo-European world until the coming of Christianity.
[5] Steepled bodies=churches. The word "steepled" is meant to evoke phallic images, therefore equating the church and the Church with masculine power-over.
[6] The three daughters of Lear. "Or not to be" refers of course to the "question" in the previous line: by invoking Shakespeare I call attention to the conspicuous lack of mothers in ancient/medieval literature.
[7] Genesis 18:12.
[8] Job 3:3.

Back to Joan's Poetry
Back to Joan's Original Writings
Back to


D. Joan Leib
Last updated 10 February, 2000