Isaac, after Mount Moriah

Dirty-haired boy, my rascal, my sacrifice. Never

an easy dream. I watch him wrestle my shadow, eyelids

trembling, one fist ready for me.

Sacrifice is an often repeated message in Jones’ work. These lines reveal irrepressible struggle, creating the impression that “sacrifice” is not necessarily a choice. While canonically within the context of the biblical father/son struggle, I read it differently. To live truely gay men exchange one happiness for another, the pretend bliss of being closeted and accepted for that of their joy being known. “Eyelids trembling” is an example of the contrast, the struggle Jones draws. “Trembling” as a word often implies fear, but eyelids may tremble also when one is falling asleep, fighting it, falling. “Never an easy dream”. Fear as well as rest. The “ready” fist could be prepared for attack or protection of the narrator; perceived protection of self expressed in striking out at him, he who draws back the blinds over vulnerability. These lines can be interpreted to convey the intersection of bliss and utter violence, physical and not, that can be within gay love.

2 thoughts on “Isaac, after Mount Moriah”

  1. Treeleaf, I really enjoyed reading your interpretation of the poem – I chose to analyze the same one but we saw different themes in it. Now that I am rereading the poem thinking about the relationship of narrator with a lover or even themselves, it resonates newly with me. I agree that there is some real contrast between the language of delicacy, tender care, and then a lurking threat. I felt this dark threatening force between all of Jones’ poetry which could place readers in his position of always feeling under threat.

  2. I really like your interpretation of this poem. So many of Jones’s poems are negative, yet your understanding shows a warmer, more positive side to his poetry. This interpretation reminds me of Adrienne Rich’s poem Dialogue, where the love shared by the two people in each result in an understanding that allows both to be happy. Like Jones’s contrast that you mentioned, Rich includes the contrast between the easy living provided by her straight marriage versus the happiness she experienced with her female partner.

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