In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

Wrestling with the Dark Angel – a series of poems


This drawing by Gustave Doré is one of several depictions by well-known artists of an incident recorded in the Book of Genesis, in which Jacob wrestled with an angel for a night. Towards the morning, the angel touched Jacob on the thigh, which left him “halt” (lame). But afterwards, the angel blessed him and changed his name to Israel.

Of course, there have been many interpretations of what the incident might signify. The notion “See God and die” perhaps lies behind it. Jacob found it remarkable that he had been allowed to survive his encounter with a being of perfect truth and light. It is a dangerous thing to come that close to the beginning and end of Creation and hardly surprising that he was lame afterwards. He got off lightly. Further, as a result of the struggle and his conduct in it, he came into his own, that night.

Here is a collection of poems suggested by the incident. They were written at different times and none is entirely new.  But several have been changed extensively.