April 8, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy, part two: A poem

Posted in Poetry, Religion at 9:23 pm by The Lizard Queen

Cotton & Turnip

I freely confess my particular indisposition to be moved by [vegetables] . . . often accounted Prodigies.
                                       —Cotton Mather

When Heaven spoke through nature any cabbage
might show a rupture in the Human sphere.
That stalk whose puny root should not have held it
Was an omen for the rot of souls, a Prodigy of sin
& Divination–& Still you say the blood is on us!
Friends, it was not Salem’s first ominous Turnip,
Nor the first trespass He answered with excess–
Did you think all dead in the flood had equally sinned?
Goody Parker, Becky Nurse & Wilmott Reed.
Martha hanged & Giles stoned for standing mute,
Sarah Wilds, Sarah Good. As the powers of air
Leave barren the world, the righteous will perish,
Some few, among the wicked. Though good wheat’s lost
When pestilence descends, you burn the field.

–Amy Beeder, 2006



  1. DavidD said,

    My mind goes straight to the hysteria over supposed sexual abuse at day care centers in the eighties. Fewer people were harmed with that than in 17th century Salem, but there were still some people who spent many years in prison before the falseness of this recent issue was recognized.

    It is human nature to be almost paranoid. On top of that some people are given more credibility than they deserve, experts and perceived innocents both. Some individuals are bound to suffer as scapegoats as a result. We can only hope it’s not our turn.

    I’m not sure what Amy Beeder had in mind with her last lines. Is it right or wrong to burn the field when good people are harmed in the process? I suppose there are different examples of each. Did David Koresh and Jim Jones have to be stopped despite the murders/suicides those confrontations triggered? What about the military adventures of any of our Presidents since Calvin Coolidge?

    I wish the 21st century meant an end to scapegoats. I doubt that it does. Those in power find scapegoats. Is it their ideology or is it the power combined with human nature? The guys on South Park say that even 500 years in the future it will be the latter, not the former. They might be wrong. But I don’t think it’s just ideology.

  2. I feel safe saying that, given that the speaker is Cotton Mather, Amy is pointing out the problems with the “burn the field” strategy–particularly considering that one can see that attitude all over the place in this post-9/11 world (“Deport all the brown people!”), and one can also see how damaging it is.

    (Of course, I also have the advantage of knowing Amy personally… 🙂 )

  3. […] Lizard Queen I’ve fallen behind again, so there will be a handful of poems today.  This is a re-post, as it’s a poem my thoughts return to from time to time when I consider issues concerning the […]

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