Published in 1995 by the award-winning poet of American origin, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, the poem “To the Desert” has a deep meaning in the sphere of religion. The main motifs of the team are the necessity of having a belief in the Almighty God and the importance of praising and thanking the Lord. The title of the poem is very suggestive for the theme of the text, the “desert” symbolizing a vast space where dreams and hopes die. However, in contrast to the morose meaning of the word, the poem gives hope and raises the question of constant belief in God, in better and in worse times.
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The beginning of the poem is troubling and yet reassuring: “I came to you one rainless August night.\ You taught me how to live without the rain.” These two verses suggest the fact that although some periods of time can be hard to overcome, having faith and believing in the Lord can help one get through them. Living without the rain is a clear paradox since no life form on Earth has been created to be able to live without water. However, the phrase is meant to symbolize the strong bond between faith and survival that religion can offer.
In the second part of the poem, the author tried to describe the power and magnificence of God and how people should see Him. The verse “You are sand, wind, sun, and burning sky” suggests the security that the Almighty offers those who believe in him, as He is all that can be thought and imagined, as long as they are pure. Furthermore, “You reach – then bend\ Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new” has a perfect melody added in the verse, meant to describe the serenity and sufficiency of God’s presence. The fact that the author enlisted only words that start with the letter “b” is a poetic technique that brings the reader’s attention towards that certain enumeration.
The third part of the poem describes the faithfulness that a human being needs to show towards God, since the poem writes: “I was born for you.\ Above, below, by you, by you surrounded.” This dependency, this complete and utter trust that a person should put in the Almighty Lord is sure to be repaid as He will “never break your (his) knot.” This part of the poem want to transmit the fact that although God loves all human beings equally, people need to realize that they have to give back to God some of the love and faithfulness they receive.
Last but not least, the poem ends with an ardent request made in Spanish, “Reach, rise, blow, Sálvame, mi dios,\ Trágame, mi tierra. Salva, traga, Break me,\ I am bread. I will be the water for your thirst.” These last three verses of the poem come to conclude the theme of the poem and show the fact that even though the person cries for God’s help, he does not lose faith if their prayers are not answered quickly. The codependency between the Lord and the human being is astonishing, such as bread and water need to come together in order to fulfill a man.
To summarize, the poem “To the Desert” is a great homage brought to God, as its theme and motifs create a combination of words meant to praise the Lord. Through poetic techniques of several sorts, Benjamin Alire Sáenz has managed to describe an image of a kind, helpful and omnipresent God which the reader is drown to put faith into.
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