POETRY: I Am Their Father, Says God, by Charles Péguy

I Am Their Father, Says God Charles Péguy

(Translated from the French by Julian Green)

I am their father, says God. Our Father who art in Heaven. My son
told them often enough that I was their father.
I am their judge. My son told them so. I am also their father.
I am especially their father.
Well, I am their father. He who is a father is above all a father. Our
Father who art in Heaven.
He who has once been a father
can be nothing else but a father.
They are my son’s brothers; they are my children; I am their father.
Our Father who art in Heaven, my son taught them that prayer.
Sic ergo vos orabitis. After this manner therefore pray ye.
Our Father who art in Heaven, he knew very well what he was doing
that day, my son who loved them so.
Who lived among them, who was like one of them.
Who went as they did, who spoke as they did, who lived as they did.
Who suffered.
Who suffered as they did, who died as they did.
And who loved them so, having known them.
Who brought back to Heaven a certain taste for man, a certain taste
for the Earth.
My son who loved them so, who loves them eternally in Heaven.
He knew very well what he was doing that day, my son who loved
them so.

When he put that barrier between them and me, Our Father who art
in Heaven,
those three or four words.
That barrier which my anger and perhaps my justice will never pass.
Blessed is the man who goes to sleep under the protection of that
outpost, the outpost of those three or four words.
Those words that move ahead of every prayer like the hands of the
suppliant in front of his face.
Like the two joined hands of the suppliant advancing before his face
and the tears of his face.
Those three or four words that conquer me, the unconquerable.
And which they cause to go before their distress like two joined and
invincible hands.
Those three or four words which move forward like a beautiful
cutwater fronting a lowly ship.
Cutting the flood of my anger.
And when the cutwater has passed, the ship passes, and back of them
the whole fleet.
That, actually, is the way I see them, says God;
During my eternity, eternally, says God.
Because of that invention of my Son’s, thus must I eternally see them.
(And judge them. How do you expect me to judge them now.
After that.)
Our Father who art in Heaven, my son knew exactly what to do
In order to tie the arms of my justice and untie the arms of my mercy.
(I do not mention my anger, which has never been anything but my
justice.
And sometimes my charity.)
And now I must judge them like a father. As if a father were any good
as a judge. A certain man had two sons.
As if he were capable of judging. A certain man had two sons.
We know well enough how a father judges. There is a famous
example of that.

We know well enough how the father judged the son who had gone
away and come back.
The father wept even more than the son.
That is the story my son has been telling them. My son gave them
The secret of judgment itself.
And now this is how they seem to me; this is how I see them;
This is how I am obliged to see them.
Just as the wake of a beautiful ship grows wider and wider until it
disappears and loses itself.
But begins with a point, which is the point of the ship itself.
So the huge wake of sinners grows wider and wider until it disappears
and loses itself.
But it begins with a point, which is the point of the ship itself, and
it is that point which comes towards me,
Which is turned towards me.
It begins with a point, which is the point of the ship itself.
And the ship is my own son, laden with all the sins of the world.
And the point of the ship is the two joined hands of my son.
And before the look of my anger and the look of my justice
They have all hidden behind him.
And all of that huge cortège of prayers, all of that huge wake grows
wider and wider until it disappears and loses itself.
But it begins with a point and it is that point which is turned towards
me.
Which advances towards me.
And that point is those three or four words: Our Father who art in
Heaven;
verily my son knew what he was doing.
And every prayer comes up to me hidden behind those three or four
words.—
Our Father who art in Heaven.—And behind (these words) widens
until it disappears and loses itself.
The wake of innumerable prayers
As they are spoken in their text for innumerable days
By innumerable men,
(By simple men, his brothers.)
Morning prayers, evening prayers;
(Prayers said on all other occasions);
On so many other occasions during innumerable days;
Prayers for noon and for the whole day;
Prayers of monks for all hours of the day,
And for the hours of the night;
Laymen’s prayers and clerics’ prayers
As they were said innumerable times
For innumerable days.
(He spoke like them, he spoke with them, he spoke as one of them.)
All of that huge fleet of prayers laden with the sins of the world.
All of that huge fleet of prayers and penances attacks me
Having the spear you wot of,
Advances towards me having the spear you wot of.
It is a fleet of freighters, classis oneraria.
And a fleet of the line,
A combat fleet.
Like a beautiful fleet of yore, like a fleet of triremes
Advancing to attack the king.
And what do you expect me to do: I am attacked
And in that fleet, in that innumerable fleet
Each Our Father is like a high riding ship
Having itself its own spear, Our Father who art in Heaven
Turned towards me, and coming behind this selfsame spear.
Our Father who art in Heaven, not so smart after all. Of course,
when a man says that, he can get behind what he has said.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: