Job Responds to the Whirlwind

Here lie I, in the dust, though not forlorn — my mouth is filled with ashes, my back torn and raw from sackcloth. Though not, as I said, forlorn. Strangely at peace. I have no more grief, it seems; no more tears, no voice to wail the countless deaths, of brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, cousins, servants, each death less meaningful, harder to compass than the one before. Have I not suffered? Have I not fallen as an eagle falls, shocking not for the loss itself but for the height from which I fell? Such a vertiginous plunge, as bereft of import or malice as the well of gravity. But not, as I said, forlorn.

I will no longer protest my innocence. Such quibbling seems trivial now: what has guilt or innocence to do with anything? Such things happen like the crumbling of a cliff eroded with development, made barren with lawns. These is a law there, a law to govern suffering and sorrow, as clear in hindsight as the working out of a mathematical proof, as empty and formal as that. What do I care for rigor, for logic, for justice? I will no longer protest my innocence. What does it matter?

Have I deserved to suffer? Certainly; to suffer is the natural inheritance of all that live. But what does it signify? My suffering means nothing — after all, I live to suffer; alone of my family I may say that. Shall I count myself less fortunate, then, than those who have gone down to the birdless lake, to the fields of asphodel? Here lie I, in the dust, by not, as I said, forlorn. What would it signify?