I wrote this poem after walking through the temple of Karnak in Egypt recently and then visiting the glorious technicoloured tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
I was standing among the dead Gods and faith of the past.
This is another poem from my 8th book of poetry which will be appearing in print shortly.
Gods, Men and When
Dead gods and decaying pharaohs
Amid heaps of rock
Under a searing sun
Where it hardly ever rains.
Lost beliefs and faith
Strong enough to build empires,
Now buried in sand,
Slipping between the grains.
Such colossal majesty and splendour,
Built on sand
Such fantastic effort and sacrifice,
Based on hope,
Binding a nation.
Such is the way of gods and men
They come and go,
Leave their mark
And vanish in the when.
Gods, Men and When
It always seems to me that we never learn from the mistakes of the past or see ourselves in people who have gone before.
The mighty Egyptian empire was based around a philosophy that bound them together – that there was a god who had to be worshipped and sacrificed to, that the priests and pharaohs were special and had divine powers and had to be obeyed.
The religion unified the nation. The monuments, temples and tombs are testament to the power of that religion and the pharaohs. Huge enterprises, trade and war were undertaken merely in order to satisfy the gods. Massive expenditures of time, effort, manpower and resources were placed into building those tombs, statues, obelisks, pyramids, sphinxes and temples. Thousands, maybe millions died to complete them. Did the pharaohs really believe the lavish arrangements were the key to the afterlife? Or did they serve to denote power, solidify the status, impress enemies, and subjugate the people?
What we do know is that those gods and beliefs no longer hold sway. All that sacrifice, energy and effort was hollow. They were not real gods and that was not the way to the afterlife. Thousands of years, lives and sacrifice down the drain.
Yet we still appoint Kings and Bishops, Imams and Emperors, Popes and Dictators and create new gods to worship. Gods that are the real ones this time. Gods that will last for ever. Gods that demand sacrifice, worship and ever bigger temples, cathedrals, mosques and churches.
I cannot help thinking that a lot more could be achieved if we were to work out that the kings, bishops, imams, emperors, dictators, popes and the rest are just ordinary people, just like us, with inflated egos and a heap of psychological problems, that there is no god demanding that we dress in a certain way, pray five times a day and worship in peculiar manner, neither is there any afterlife. Then perhaps we could put our energies into a more equal society and do away with poverty, ignorance and the superrich and overly powerful.
We never seem to learn from the past.