Poetry on Odyssey: Idumea Variations
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Poetry on Odyssey: Idumea Variations

For Solo Rhetor

Poetry on Odyssey: Idumea Variations

Idumea (Charles Wesley)


And am I born to die?
To lay this body down
And must my trembling spirit fly
Into a world unknown?

Variation I

And yet am I born to live?

So shall this body rise!

My Soul in utter jubilation,

steps into the glories of the skies!


A land of deepest shade
Unpierced by human thought
The dreary regions of the dead
Where all things are forgot

Variation II

An ocean of the brightest light

Run through with God's Great Love

The cheery dominions of the ever-living

Where our faults are lost above


Soon as from earth I go
What will become of me?
Eternal happiness or woe
Must then my portion be

Variation III

And when to Heaven's gate I come

I know what my fate shall be

My soul judged not by sin's sum

But by God's Love for me


Waked by the trumpet sound
I from my grave shall rise
And see the Judge with glory crowned
And see the flaming skies!

Variation IV

And as I slip into that eternal slumber

Awaiting Gabriel's Great call

My soul shall sing endless Hosannas

Unto the Hosts of the Lord of All!

It has been brewing in the back of my mind that I have yet to see a poet do variations on a theme by another writer. The above poem is my attempt to do so. The thematic text is taken from a hymn by Charles Wesley, called "Idumea" which is the Greek variant of the city of Edom. For this exercise, I have contrasted the somewhat mournful text, filled with a worried outlook on salvation, with a more positive text. The poem is meant to be performed by a rhetor or orator in the style of the Sacred Harp singing tradition. The text may sound a bit Appalachian in this style, but it brings a folk-like qualtiy to the words.

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