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Image by Caroline Forbes

The Shrine Whose Shape I Am

Samuel Menashe


The Shrine Whose Shape I Am

Samuel Menashe


Poem introduction

And there is a scene in the Bible where, many centuries later, the Ark is being brought into Jerusalem, and David is dancing as it's being carried into Jerusalem, and he is described with the phrase "and David danced before the Lord with all his might". When I read that phrase as a boy, I loved it, and then only in my middle age I realised that it wasn't a figure of speech, it was believed that God's presence inhabits the ark and so literally he was dancing before the Lord with all His might.

The Shrine Whose Shape I Am

The shrine whose shape I am
Has a fringe of fire
Flames skirt my skin

There is no Jerusalem but this
Breathed in flesh by shameless love
Built high upon the tides of blood
I believe the Prophets and Blake
And like David I bless myself
With all my might

I know many hills were holy once
But now in the level lands to live
Zion ground down must become marrow
Thus in my bones I am the King's son
And through death's domain I go
Making my own procession


from New & Selected Poems (New English Library, 2005), copyright © Samuel Menashe 2005, used by permission of the author

Recordings

Samuel Menashe Reading from his Poems

1Roads Run Forever...

2Warrior Wisdom

3All my friends are homeless...

4Winter

5The Dead of Winter

6Downpour

7April

8April (Fool)

9Sudden Shadow

10She who saw the moon last night...

11The Bare Tree

12The Host

13Landmark

14Family Plot

15Awakening from Dreams

16Oh lady lonely as a stone...

17The friends of my father

18Full Fathom Five

19Descent

20Memento Mori

21Forever and a Day

22At a Standstill

23The Oracle

24On the Level

25Self Employed

26Curriculum Vitae

27In my Digs

28Tenement Spring

29A pot poured out...

30Off the Wall

31Pity Us

32At Millay's Grave

33Take any man...

34Telescoped

35O Many Named Beloved

36Promised Land

37Adam Means Earth

38Reeds Rise from Water

39Manna

40Stone would be water...

41If I were as lean as I feel...

42The Shrine Whose Shape I Am

43As the tall, turbaned...

44Old as the Hills

45Shade

46Just Now

47Gray Boulder

48Rural Sunrise

49Waterfall

50Pastoral

51Star-Crossed

52Western Wind

53Sleep

54Dreaming

55Dreams

56Home Movie

57Inklings

58What to Expect

59The Visitation

60Anonymous

61The Living End

62Transplant

63The Niche

64Pirate

65Voyage

66Cargo

67Birds

68Eyes

69The Sandpiper

70On My Birthday

71A Bronze Head

72Sunset, Central Park

73Night Music (Pizzicato)

74Family Silver

75Improvidence

76Dominion

77Salt and Pepper

78Walking Stick

79Sparrow

80The room of my friend...

81Nightwalk

82All my life when I woke up at night...

83Someone Walked Over My Grave

84Triptych

85Le Lac Secret

86Survival

87Red Glints in Black Hair

88Scissors

89When

Books & cds by Samuel Menashe