God of the empty image


Meister Eckhart
To reach these common nuns
I must speak common German.

Invent a language by bending it
back into itself standing firmly on nothing.

For to attain God everything must go:
will, self, knowledge, word, God Himself,

to love Him as He is: non-God
non-image, hidden in the ground

of soul buried, destroyed, sinking
in the Godhead from nothing to nothing

down inside the self a silent
bottomless sea touching nothing,

no creatures that are all His speaking
heard only in the abyss of stillness

when knowing knows unknowing,
thought self shatters, bereft of thing ...

Yet my fellow Dominicans are confused
as they defend me and burn my lay followers.

They dare not yet seek my head
tortured empty of the images,

idols they have engraved in text
and the smoking flesh of heretics.

I am no heretic. Their faith is words.
Mine unspeakable.

Not Poem
not positive nor negative nor neither
not God nor Devil nor either

not Buddha nor the road to kill him on
not Harry the horse nor a mermaid's song

not me not you not I not we
not sky nor sense nor being free

not tree nor fowl nor cloud of unknowing
not mum nor dad nor not showing

up in heaven, hell or in school
not lying down at the bottom of the pool

not male nor female nor transvestite
not deadly insight in the dead of night

not mellowing nor manically meditating
not lucidly lying nor languidly levitating

not full nor empty
not I that's plenty

not I that's plenty

Peter Lach-NewinskyPeter Lach-Newinsky is a published poet who also runs a small permaculture farm in Bundanoon NSW.

Topic tags: Meister Eckhart and Not Poem, two new poems by German Australian poet Peter Lach-Newinsky



submit a comment

Existing comments

not bad
Greig Williams | 10 March 2009

Peter, thank you for the strange beauty of both via negativa poems. I've often wondered (and envied) whether the congregation of German middle class and peasants caught the mystic genius of Eckhart's homilies.
Dr Vacy Vlazna | 10 March 2009

What an exciting couple of lines: Their faith is words/ Mine unspeakable.
Joe Castley | 11 March 2009

Forgive the exclusive language - admittedly of Echart's era - in the first for the delight of the second. Thanks.
Mary L | 17 March 2009

Similar Articles

The trouble with free speech

  • Tim Kroenert
  • 12 March 2009

A French satirical paper was sued for portraying Muslims as terrorists and labelling them 'jerks'. The editors would have us believe it's a case of free speech versus censorship. But there's more to it than that.


How to survive committee meetings

  • Brian Matthews
  • 11 March 2009

Some rules of thumb: always say 'prior to' instead of 'before', 'in excess of' instead of 'more than' and 'in the approximate vicinity of' instead of 'about'. It's good to say things like, 'We'll have to real-time this to impact on the offshore numbers'.


We've updated our privacy policy.

Click to review