I Talk to the Wind
by Circle or Line
Here is Behemoth, my creature as you are, fed on the same grass the oxen eat; yet what strength in his loins, what lustihood in the navel of his belly! Stiff as cedar-wood his tail, close-knit the sinews of his groin, bones like pipes of bronze, gristle like plates of steel! None of God’s works can vie with him, the maker of such a beast has his sword ready for use; whole mountain-sides, the playground of his fellow beasts, he will lay under tribute, as he lies there under the close covert of the marsh-reeds, thick boughs for his shadow, among the willows by the stream. The flooded river he drinks unconcerned; Jordan itself would have no terrors for that gaping mouth. Like a lure it would charm his eye, though it should pierce his nostrils with sharp stakes.
Or Leviathan, will you find a hook that will draw him to land, a line that will hold his tongue fast? Can you ring him, or pierce his jaw with a clasp? Will he importune you with entreaties, or cajole you with blandishments, till you make a covenant that binds him to be your servant for ever? Will you make a plaything of him, as if he were a tame bird, chain him up to make sport for your maid-servants? Is he to be divided up among fellow fishermen, sold piece-meal to the merchants? Is that skin a spoil for the net, that head for the fishermen’s cabins? Do but try conclusions with him, and see if the memory of the combat does not keep you dumb! Fond hope that must be dashed to the ground for all to see it!
It is in mercy that I forbear to make him a plague for mankind. But indeed, there is no resisting me, nor can any deserve my thanks by lending me the aid I lacked; nothing on earth but is at my disposal. I give him no quarter, for all his boastful, all his flattering words. Who can strip the skin of him, who can penetrate into the cavern of his mouth, forcing the gates that guard it, the terrors of his teeth? The body of him is like shields of cast metal, scale pressing on scale so close to one another as to leave no vent between; so well joined that nothing will part them. Let him but sneeze, the fire flashes out; let him open his eyes, it is like the glimmer of dawn; flames come from his jaws, bright as a burning torch, smoke from his nostrils, thick as the fumes of a seething pot; his very breath will set coals aflame, such fire issues from that mouth. What strength dwells in that neck of his, what terrors play about him! Firm-set are the folds of his flesh, unyielding though a thunder-bolt should strike them; firm-set, too, is the heart of him, firm as ever stone was, or smith’s anvil. Rises he up, angels themselves are afraid, and take sanctuary in their dread. Sword thrust, nor spear, nor breast-plate can hold their own against him; to him, steel is but chaff, bronze but touch-wood, nor fears he the archer; sling-stones he counts as straw, as straw the hammer-blow, laughs at the brandished spear. Sunlight flashes beneath him as he goes, a path of gold through the slime; he makes the deep sea boil like a pot where ointment simmers; how it shines in his wake, as though ocean itself had grown hoary with age!
He has not his like among the strong things of earth, that fearless nature, that heaven-confronting eye. Over all the pride of earth he reigns supreme.