I. To turn aside
toward Medusa –
born fair, but, by a vengeful goddess,
Athena, made hideous of face
with serpentine-hair
and with animus –
rendered men into stone.

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, John Martin (1789-1854)

II. To turn aside
toward the heavenly rain
of brimstone and fire,
reducing Sodom and Gomorrah
to a funeral pyre,
Lot’s wife, with distrusting, disturbing curiosity,
defying the angelic warning,
was rendered a pillar of salt.(1)

cross, kneeling at foot of

III. To turn aside
to “survey the wondrous cross
whereon the Prince of Glory died,
my richest gain, I count but loss
and pour contempt on all my pride”,(2)
my heart –
made stone by too-long gazing on the wearisome worries of this world,
made a useless lump of salt saturated by the world’s rain (reign?) of woe –
again is made breathing, living, beating flesh.


(1) Genesis 19.15-26
(2) Words (1707) by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Illustration: The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, John Martin (1789-1854). Note: Martin depicts Lot and his two daughters (foreground, right) fleeing the destruction and Lot’s wife (lower foreground, center) behind them and looking back to Sodom and Gomorrah and, as the object of a coming lightning bolt, about to be turned into a pillar of salt.

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