Devoutly to Be Wished

By John Hertz: (reprinted from No Direction Home 32)  In the present season – in 2019 the New Year on the Jewish religious calendar began at sundown on 29 Sep, followed by Ten Days of Repentance, and Atonement Day beginning at sundown on 8 Oct (it’s a lunar-solar calendar adjusted by a leap month, so the dates shift back and forth on the secular i.e. Gregorian calendar) – I sometimes see this poem, attributed to Judy Chicago (1939-  ) and said to be from 1979.

A Poem Praying for Us Then and Them Right Now

And then all of what has divided us will merge.
And then compassion will be wedded to power.
And then softness will come to a world that is often harsh and unkind.
And then both women and men will be gentle.
And then both men and women will be strong.
And then no other person will be subject to another’s will.
And then all will be rich and varied.
And then all will share equally in the earth’s abundance.
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old.
And then all will nourish the young.
And then all will cherish life’s creatures.
And then all will live in harmony with each other and the earth.
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.

It appears elsewhen too.  Maybe I should add elsefaith; I’ve seen it among Christians.

At the moment I have three scholarly questions to pursue.  The title does not always appear.  The word “often” does not always appear.  When it is omitted – so maybe these are just two questions – a further line appears after “And then all will be rich and free and varied”: “And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many.”  I’m not sure about the title; I think often, greed and need, matter.

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4 thoughts on “Devoutly to Be Wished

  1. Slightly belated good wishes to friends in the Jewish community: L’shanah tovah tikatevu v’tichatemu. (May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.) Happy year 5780. It can hardly be a lot worse than the last one!

  2. @Rick Moen: I wouldn’t tempt the fates like that; we have too many situations that could go further south in the year we’re in, let alone in 5781.

  3. The poem appears without a title on the last page of Judy Chicago’s book The Dinner Party: A Symbol of Our Heritage (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1979). That book is about her art installation “The DInner Party”, which is now at the Brooklyn Museum.

    The text in the book is slightly different from what you quoted here (though you note some of the differences). I wrote a longer comment about the differences but the website choked on it so I’ll see if this shorter comment goes through. I don’t know if the poem also appears in the installation, or if that version has any differences from the version in the book.

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