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

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1Roads Run Forever...

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2Warrior Wisdom

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3All my friends are homeless...

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4Winter

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5The Dead of Winter

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6Downpour

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7AprilX

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8April (Fool)

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9Sudden Shadow

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10She who saw the moon last night...

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11The Bare Tree

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12The Host

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13Landmark

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14Family Plot

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15Awakening from Dreams

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16Oh lady lonely as a stone...

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17The friends of my father

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18Full Fathom Five

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19Descent

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20Memento Mori

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21Forever and a Day

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22At a Standstill

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23The Oracle

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24On the Level

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25Self Employed

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26Curriculum Vitae

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27In my Digs

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28Tenement Spring

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29A pot poured out...

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30Off the Wall

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31Pity Us

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32At Millay's Grave

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33Take any man...

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34Telescoped

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35O Many Named Beloved

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36Promised Land

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37Adam Means Earth

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38Reeds Rise from Water

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39Manna

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40Stone would be water...

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

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42The Shrine Whose Shape I Am

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43As the tall, turbaned...

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44Old as the Hills

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45Shade

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46Just Now

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47Gray Boulder

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48Rural Sunrise

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49Waterfall

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50Pastoral

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51Star-Crossed

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52Western Wind

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53Sleep

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54Dreaming

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55Dreams

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56Home Movie

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57Inklings

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58What to Expect

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59The Visitation

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60Anonymous

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61The Living End

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62Transplant

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63The Niche

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64Pirate

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65Voyage

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66Cargo

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67Birds

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68Eyes

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69The Sandpiper

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70On My Birthday

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71A Bronze Head

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72Sunset, Central Park

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73Night Music (Pizzicato)

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74Family Silver

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75Improvidence

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76Dominion

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77Salt and Pepper

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78Walking Stick

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79Sparrow

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81Nightwalk

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80The room of my friend...

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

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83Someone Walked Over My Grave

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84Triptych

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85Le Lac Secret

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86Survival

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87Red Glints in Black Hair

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88Scissors

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89When

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Books by Samuel Menashe