On another thread a CanLit student is overwhelmed by a poem written by Irving Layton called “For Jesus Christ” and looking for ways to approach this very provocative poem.
This thread is not to continue that discussion because that discussion is still underway.
However, one of the questions that Layton poses is whether or not Naziism had its roots in Christianity. Now Layton was not found of rhetorical questions, so worded his poem plainly as statements organized into four stanzas.
Nevertheless as an artist his poem is a question about the virtue or lack thereof of Christianity; moreover the virtue or lack thereof of Catholicism versus later ideologies. And our job as Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant is to answer that question.
Parallel structure is one of the most powerful tools of expression and Layton uses it in this poem to differentiate Catholicism from later developments:
Here is the poem. I have hilighted the parallel structure in red:
For Jesus Christ
It began with delicate religious frissons
at the blinding of a young Jewess
who incautiously turned away her gaze
from your paraded likeness at Easter
One pontiff invented the ghetto;
more tender and loving, another commanded
shivering ghosts to wear out its cobblestones
warmed by the yellow Star of David.
Having mutilated under your mild forgiving eyes
your idol-hating brothers and sisters,
both peasant and duke knew the joys of penitence,
the ecstatic remorse in sinning flesh.
Your stoutest, most selfless partisans in Europe
laboured nearly two thousand years
to twist your Cross into the Swastika
that tore into our flesh like a fish-hook.
The idol-hating brothers and sisters: are those Jews or Protestants?
Please focuss on explicating the poem carefully and refrain from over-reacting on a superficial reading. Please also base your responses on reason and reference and refrain from singlemindedly promoting an agenda which has nothing to do with this poem, Catholicism, Reformationism, or Naziism. Please stay on topic. Thank you.