“Super flumina Babylonis”

Here are these unseen college boundaries
Transigured into Babylonic trees —
The poplars, where the exiles hung their harps,
By which their captors asked of them a tune,
And there received but wailing for their song.
For though there’s scarcely any water here,
“By the waters of Babylon” I weep.

When I submitted this to Dialogue, Calvin’s student-run literary magazine, in the fall of 2007, it seemed everyone thought this was some sort of commentary on the trees at Calvin, the exams going on then, or something like that. My intention was nothing so subtle. You may recall that Dante quoted the verse from Lamentations (“How lonely sits the city that was full of people …”) on hearing of the death of his beloved Beatrice; as in my earlier poem “Nunc Dimittis” I followed Dante’s example, in this case using the exiles’ lament (Psalm 136) for their separation from the temple to describe my anticipated separation from my beloved.

But, in any case, besides posting it here, I’ve now also posted this poem on my wiki. And I as always eagerly request and greatly appreciate your feedback of any kind (though the more substantial the better), including questions, critique, comments, or suggestions (especially of what to post next, since I’m running out of old material).

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One thought on ““Super flumina Babylonis”

  1. Not certain that I see in the poem what you describe, but Dante’s text is but a vague memory for me…I would have to re-read it to fully grasp the full meaning of the poem…but still like the overall structure.

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