The Land of Nod

By James Arthur James Arthur
Growing up, I barely knew the Bible, but read
and reread the part when Cain drifted east
or was drawn that way, into a place of desolation,
the land of Nod, there to begin, with a wife

of unknown origin, another race of men,
under the mark of God. As a boy, I thought Nod
would be a place where the blue scillas
would bloom gray, a country of the rack and screw,

the serrated sword, where the very serving cups
were bone. As a grown man, I’ve heard that Nod
never was a nation—of Cain’s offspring, or anyone—
but a mistranslation of “wander,” so Cain

could go wherever, and be in Nod. Far more
than in God, I believe in Cain, who destroyed
his own brother, and therefore in any city
could have his wish, and be alone.

Source: Poetry (May 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2011


James Arthur’s first book, Charms Against Lightning, is forth- coming from Copper Canyon Press. He will be in residence at the Amy Clampitt House in 2012.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Religion, Christianity

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Quatrain

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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