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Esther

By Graham Kings

Esther is the seventh and final painting by Silvia Dimitrova in our series together, “Women in the Bible.” I picked it up from her at Downside School, Somerset, on Monday 20 January 2020 and wrote my poem, expounding it on the following Friday.

 

 

Esther

Who is this woman,

Framed by arches,

Beautiful, bountiful,

Centred, subtle, shrewd,

Carrying scented lilies?

 

Who is this man,

Pictured with pillars,

Royal, imperial,

Majestic, magnetic,

Extending his sceptre?

 

Who is this man,

Holding a scroll, eyes alert,

Beckoning, suggesting,

Supplicant, petitioning?

 

Who is this man,

Head down, eyes closed,

Gallowed, glowering,

Schemer, scowling?

 

Who are these girls,

Gazing at us,

And the woman,

With posey and scroll?

 

Esther, Jewish Queen of Persia,

Orphaned, adopted, awesome,

Raised to the heights,

Reticent, persuasive, risk-taker,

‘If I perish, I perish’,

Bravely delivers her race,

From depths of death.

 

Xerxes, King of Persian Empire,

Reigns in citadel of Susa,

From India to Ethiopia,

Opulent, hospitable, terrifying,

Saved by Esther from murder,

Hears her pleas for her people.

 

Mordecai, cousin of Esther,

Foster-father, chronicler,

Honourably perceptive:

“Perhaps you have come

To royal dignity

For such a time as this?”

 

Haman, vizier of Xerxes,

Machiavellian murderer,

Plans destruction of Jews:

Snarler ensnared,

Worsted, reversed, hoisted,

Despised for ever.

 

Children and families,

Throughout the ages,

Celebrate Purim,

Reading the scroll,

Feasting and sharing,

Remembering freedom and revenge.

 

Yet, the Jew of Nazareth,

Enjoins love for enemies,

Endures imperial gallows,

Absorbing vengeance:

Death is destroyed by

Esther’s successor at Easter

 

Graham Kings,

On the painting “Esther” by Silvia Dimitrova,

Jan 24, 2020

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Graham Kings is honorary assistant bishop and world mission adviser in the Diocese of Southwark, England.


Links to the other six paintings and poems, and details of Tristan Latchford’s seven anthems based on them, may be found in my invitation to the “Women in the Bible Retreat.”

 

 

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