Beckett: Poetry – No. 1754, No Other Gods

This poem is a sestina, which is a poem that tells a story. This sestina is specifically a story of what it means to have no other gods from Luther’s explanation of the First Commandment in the Small Catechism. The story is not so much about abortion as it is about the woman’s idol: sacred autonomy. Abortion merely serves as an example of sacred autonomy–a false god many worship today, which is often under the guise of abortion.

Luther explains the First Commandment, “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” In this story, the woman goes from fearing, loving, and trusting in her sacred autonomy above all things (to the point of killing her unborn infant) to fearing, loving, and trusting in God above all things. Both her fear of her idol and God’s wrath come to an end when she meets the love of Christ and trusts in His power to remove her sins, even a sin as great as her abortion.

The first stanza identifies her god, sacred autonomy. The second and third stanzas expand on this false god. The fourth stanza is the climax, where she encounters the Law that identifies her sin—both her sin of abortion and her false god, sacred autonomy. Stanza five continues to break down her false worldview. Stanza six is where she encounters the Gospel, and the envoi is where she lives life anew by the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Opposition to her will her only fear,
her desires her only love,
"Me, myself, and I" she can only trust,
sacred autonomy is her holy idol.
"I choose what I do with my life;
only I get to define peace."

Behold, pregnancy threatens her peace.
Losing autonomy is her only fear;
she alone dictates her life,
for it is convenience she truly loves.
Lifting up her holy idol,
she makes the choice only she can trust.

Her autonomy her only trust,
the infant has no option for peace.
Limbs torn apart by her idol,
with its death goes her fear,
and completely absent was her love,
death replacing what was once life.

A psalm: "In the womb God knits life";
in another: "Only in Me must you trust,"
babies in the womb God surely loves.
Thus, disruption attacked her peace,
and God's wrath she began to fear,
for she sacrificed life to her idol.

Her worship was a false idol.
God seeks life for life,
His retribution now her fear.
"In myself how could I trust?
What is death I thought to be peace.
I took a life because myself I love."

In the midst of grief, she met God's love;
His mercy to forgive crushed her idol.
Now in Christ she knows peace,
who has given her abundant new life.
In God alone, now she trusts;
coming to an end is her fear.

God's wrath she no longer fears,
for in Christ she perpetually trusts.
In His death He gives her life.

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