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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Close Encounters of the Third Heaven


G. B. Marino, The Massacre of the Innocents, canto 3. An angel -- an ordinary one, not Gabriel or Michael -- is sent by God to warn Joseph, Mary's husband, that they must immediately leave Bethlehem in order to escape Herod's fury. In Marino's version, the angel will not simply appear to Joseph in a dream; a longer, often surprising psychological process will take place. Now, anyway, he flies toward the Earth quite like a shooting star or a UFO. His description comes from Homer's Hermes via the angel (Gabriel) sent to Godfrey of Bouillon in Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered.
The night soon vanished, though the bigger
lamp still remained buried below the Earth;     the sun
but that heavenly fire, soaring in its flight
like a vice-sun, burns and flares up and,
beating its wings while curled up in itself,
imprints a long trail of light across the air.
The shepherd, deceived, gets off his bed
in the glimmer of that morning-like ray.

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