Down to the sea, always to the sea,
it always leads back to the sea—
the bitter sea, the deep dark sea,
the lowest of echoes, the sea.
And so do I stagger
this path of me,
bereft of discernment
to be as I ought to be.
Thus have I found me
as thou also dost see,
flowing deep down to the sea.

Do you see it? Do you taste it?
That wept on, wept out, cold black sea?
Bidden or not, I am there.


Bahá’ís will recognize the allusions in this poem to The Tablet of Ahmad:

Rely upon God, thy God and the Lord of thy fathers. For the people are wandering in the paths of delusion, bereft of discernment to see God with their own eyes, or hear His Melody with their own ears. Thus have We found them, as thou also dost witness. – Bahá’u’lláh

The Tablet of Ahmad was written for a great spiritual hero of the early years of the Bahá’í Faith, who, through the fire of his faith was transformed into a fearless lion of spiritual strength.  It is used by Bahá’ís in times of great sorrow or duress.

The title of the poem comes from the Latin inscription, “Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit” which means “Called or uncalled, God will be present.” It is a statement that Carl Jung discovered among the Latin writings of Erasmus, who declared the statement had been an ancient Spartan proverb. (The original Greek had, presumably, gotten a Latin education somewhere along its journey.) Jung popularized it and had it inscribed first over the doorway of his house, and then upon his tomb. “Vocatus” has been variously translated as “summoned”, “called”, “invoked”, and “bidden.”

Thank you for reading Vocatus. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph is entitled Crash and was taken in Newport, Rhode Island. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.


Photograph © 2014, poem and notes © 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.


Filed under Poetry

2 responses to “Vocatus

  1. “In route” … This poem takes me … to the sea. I am “in route” to the sea.
    That word, Vocatus. I have never seen the word before … How accurate are these descriptions I found? “invoked, having been summoned …
    named, designate” I like this poem, and you wrote this … The image fits … but does not overpower the poem. Peace. T

  2. Thank you T! I too immediately reacted to ‘Vocatus’ as a powerful and demanding word.