The term Golem, in Jewish folklore refers to an image that has been animated, an effigy which has been lent the power to interact with its surroundings. The Talmudic or Biblical concept of a Golem is more akin to some sort of proto human, a roughly hewn semblance of an oversized person, as if a sculptor had walked away after outlining a piece.
Early tales in which Golems play a part, portray Golems as creatures made of clay, or mud, who are brought to life by a learned man, through the use of occult knowledge and the name or word of God. In these early stories the Golem is a slow-witted creature, whose literal interpretation of commands keeps them from being useful for anything but the most basic of tasks.
Around the 16th century these simple servants began to take on the responsibility of protector of the Jewish people. Not too surprising an evolutionary leap perhaps, given the level of persecution the Jewish people faced during the middle ages. The incidence of Jewish people being rounded up and slaughtered in an effort to purge a village or town of plague, drought, pestilence or just plain bad luck between the 5th and 15th centuries are sadly, innumerable.
It is no wonder at all that tales of protective Golems, who become too powerful and must be destroyed by their maker began to surface. It is my sincere hope that the poem below honors not only the legend of the Golem, but the history of the people who created him.
Words, words, words,
Etched, engraved, inscribed
Prayers, incantations, spells,
Of power, protection, defense
On torso, legs, arms and chest.
Instructions, orders, mandate
Clear, precise, incontrovertible
To guards my charges’ fate
For their lives I am responsible
No use of force is too great
No choice of violence too low
No pain should be spared
No tactic is too despicable
For when the enemy comes,
Separating men, from women and children
There is no mercy shown
There is no quarter given
The pestilence creeping across the lands
Rhetoric precedes it, more virulent by half
Than the plague that supersedes it.
Of your sins you will be shriven.
You will be acting as God’s hand,
If from Christendom you help to purge, the tribes of Abraham.
The maker toils day and night; secular and holy
The gluey cough that permeates the square
The sidelong glances becoming open glares,
The writing upon the wall, is laid bare
People whom yesterday were neighbors,
Today became crusaders.
From morning bells to evensong
Their conversion took just that long.
My makers pace is fevered;
There is no time to waste.
The mob that surges through the town,
Will never be out paced.
His hands, they quiver in their haste
One last incantation to be traced
An arcane term of the occult
Only perfect completion yields result
The only commandment of my creation
Mandate, blessing and animation
The keystone of every other incantation
The word that embodies victory and strife
The word is;