Miserere Mei

House sign "Noah´s ark"(1676) in Ams...

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Linked to dVerse Poets Pub for Crit Friday, looking forward to input from the talented poets Luke Prater and Beth Winter.

Join up and learn about the value of positive critique!



Miserere Mei

Creation emerges from primal sea,
from deep abyss, from virgin womb.

Chaos to creation to chaos.
Destruction to cosmic rebirth.

Atrahasis built an ark. Utnapishtim
built an ark. Noah built an ark.

Chaos to creation to chaos.
Destruction to cosmic rebirth.

In flooded fields, on watery plains
humanity has met its fate.

Chaos to creation to chaos.
Destruction to cosmic rebirth.

Waters of the Jordan, Baptismal
cleansing, Water of life.

Chaos to creation to chaos.
Destruction to cosmic rebirth.

Purify, cleanse, receive new life.
Plunge into dark waters, the unconscious.

Miserere mei, Domine
Miserere mei, Dr. Freud.

Flood myths are part of many epochs and cultures. The cleansing symbolism of water prevails in ancient and modern religious beliefs and speak to the innate sense that we, as humans, have of our inadequacy. This poem draws on stories from Sumerian, Mesopotamian and Hebrew traditions, as well as Freudian psychology.

I wrote this in response to a prompt from One Stop Poetry http://onestoppoetry.com and am linking to One Shot Wednesday. Sadly, this wonderful blog is going to hibernate. All of us owe many thanks to the wonderful poets who labored tirelessly to make One Stop Poetry such a success and a welcoming home for so many of us.

Hopefully many will continue to be active and I take this opportunity to encourage you to imbibe with fellow poets at dVerse Poets’ Pub: http://dversepoets.com/ a new site where you will encounter many of your friends from One Stop Poetry.

22 thoughts on “Miserere Mei

  1. Victoria, I like the refrain in this as well. I always love it when you add history to your pieces.



  2. b_y says:

    I like your verse and refrain: structure given to my chaotic world, I guess. And very much like that you replace the refrain with “Miserere mei, Domine Miserere mei, Dr. Freud.” at the last. Very neat.
    My only quibble(s): “Plunge into dark waters, the unconscious” doesn’t quite match the other lines of the same position in rhythm and brevity. And,( this is quibble, indeed) in the other cases, the water covers, from above. To plunge, you are above, entering the existing water/mind.

    The more I look at this the more I like the way structure and theme work together. Ebb and surge, tide is hopeful.


  3. This is a marvelous, incantatory, call for mercy to redivivus which I thoroughly appreciated. I wouldn’t change any of it.


  4. Beth Winter says:

    My impression of your poem is that it is like an answering chant, where a single voice speaks the stanzas and a chorus of voices replies with the refrains. An anthem. I love how you demonstrated the likenesses between religions and cultures.

    Even though the only poetic device employed is the repetition, it is used very effectively and doesn’t overpower the message. I don’t have any suggestions for changes.

    Thank you for sharing and the opportunity to give input. I truly enjoyed your poem.



  5. brian says:

    this does read like call and response…if that is your intention you nailed it…some of the things i might point out in a poem work for C&R…i might play with that second to last stanza…”Plunge the dark waters, unconcious” …i do like that turn though…


  6. Gay says:

    I read this and I read it again. I heard the Miserere music in my head and I re-read the 51st psalm. It is perfect in its use of call and response. It plays the words of the ages against the words of today in a perfect litany. It feels apocalyptic, it seems prophetic, it is quite simply beautiful. I can’t find any flaws nor would I presume I could improve it. (Maybe I fail at this critiquing – hope not).
    I think it’s a great poem.


  7. kez says:

    Loved the poem and the choral stanza in it make it almost seem like a mantra …..thank you hope to read more of your submissions on dVerse


  8. Liv, I did go to dverse poets and plan to post there a lot. Great site, run by excellent poets!

    This poem is SO GREAT I’m going to give a copy to my husband (don’t worry; he won’t reproduce it). We are currently in the middle of viewing a four-hour round table discussion about religion and atheism – in this case, Chrisitianity (in the form of an actor reading from CS Lewis’s writings) and the work of Freud (played by another actor), so the timing could NOT be better.

    It’s all myth. I say this as a pastor’s wife and a follower of the teachings of Jesus – namely, loving the Creator and loving all unconditionally. I have atheist friends who live the Gospels better than a lot of Evangelicals I know! But the Bible was the only way to explain things to an uneducated culture, and it’s mostly oral traditions anyway.

    The only “Holy Book” that was literally transcribed is the Koran, and that’s because the Prophet Mohammed had a scribe at his side whenever he took his retreats. Ironic, huh? Amy


    • Sounds like you and I have very similar points of view. I love my faith but have no problem with the fact that truth is imbeded in us and emerges in many ways.

      Please tell your husband he is welcome to copy the poem. I don’t write poetry to get rich (ha!!) but to communicate a message.

      Glad you enjoyed dVerse, Amy and will look forward to seeing more of you there.

      Blessings, Victoria

      Victoria Ceretto-Slotto https://liv2write2day.wordpress.com


  9. Bodhirose says:

    The way the planet’s going–we might just be in need of another “cleansing”. Beautifully done.


  10. siggiofmaine says:

    thank you for having me stop and ponder and think…
    to be sure I understood the references…
    I find I don’t know quite as much as I thought I did some days !
    Enjoyed all the references and the weaving all of them together.

    Peace and love,……Siggi in Downeast Maine
    please pardon me, but I may never get the chance to use the phrase I just heard on Jeopardy
    in relationship to being a weaver. “You have to be ‘warped’ to be a weaver.” Sigh. It was THERE
    and just had to come out !


  11. janice kelly says:

    dear victoria,

    may i simply say your poem is beautiful…a plea, a song, a vision, the flooding waters upon our souls in dire need of cleansing…the way you’ve combined the hearts of tradition…chaos to chaos, destruction to rebirth, your intellect is above me but you beauty is with me…



  12. poemblaze says:

    A lot of great information packed in a small place. Thanks for sharing!


  13. jenneandrews says:

    Brilliant– as in shining with intellect and lyricism! Please join me in helping to fill the gap at http://fridaypoetryfest.blogspot.com — xxxJenne’


  14. jgavinallan says:

    Victoria…this is loaded with observations of past and present…I think?
    It is a commentary on religion…but also philosophy…again…I think?
    bewildered Jaye


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