Easter Poetry

POETRY: The Good Portion by Paul J. Willis

April 20, 2018

Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42) Is it waking to this calm morning after a night of dry winds? Is it scrambled eggs, the ones with cheese, or the hot glaze of a cinnamon roll? Is it the way you laugh over breakfast, that generous gift, your laughter? Is it rinsing the plates and pans in the sink? Or leaving them in a cockeyed stack, these things of use, these things of beauty that will not be taken [...]

POETRY: Eastern River by Peter Huchel

April 11, 2018

Do not look for the stones in water above the mud, the boat is gone. No longer with nets and baskets the river is dotted. The sun wick, the marsh marigold flickered out in rain. Only the willow still bears witness, in its roots the secrets of tramps lie hidden, their paltry treasures, a rusty fishhook, a bottle full of sand, a tine with no bottom, in which to preserve conversations long forgotten. On the boughs, empty nests of the penduline titmice, shoes light as birds. No one slips them over children’s [...]

POETRY: First Sunday After Easter by John Keble

April 8, 2018

Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself? (Numbers 16:9) First Father of the holy seed, If yet, invok’d in hour of need, Thou count me for thine own, Not quite an outcast if I prove, (Thou joy’s in miracles of love) Hear, from thy mercy-throne! Upon thine altar’s horn of gold Help me to lay my trembling hold, Though stain’d with Christian gore;— The blood of souls by Thee redeem’d, But, while I rov’d or idly dream’d, Lost to be found no more. For oft, when summer leaves were bright, And every flower was bath’d in light, In sunshine moments past, My willful heart would burst away From where the holy shadow lay, Where [...]

POETRY: John 21 by Katherine James

April 4, 2018

Poignant musht in a balm of fishy-charcoal, sand still cold from the night. The charred wood could write volumes on the hearts of 12, no, 11 men in tunics, veins busting from skin salty with ocean and sweat. The loved one cannot write the words, though try as he does. It’s the smell of morning and the peopled wooden boat that prevent him; anything white becomes radiant in early dawn. He hangs back and listens to words exchanged that will travel centuries, and even then settle uneven in the hearts of men. It’s all too wonderful to expect such things, but he must, so he chooses the third person as though he were someone [...]

POETRY: Swan by Mary Oliver

April 1, 2018

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river? Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air— An armful of white blossoms, A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies, Biting the air with its black beak? Did you hear it, fluting and whistling A shrill dark music—like the rain pelting the trees—like a waterfall Knifing down the black ledges? And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds— A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river? And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything? And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for? And have [...]

POETRY: Morning Poem by Mary Oliver

April 1, 2018

Every morning the world is created. Under the orange sticks of the sun the heaped ashes of the night turn into leaves again and fasten themselves to the high branches— and the ponds appear like black cloth on which are painted islands of summer lilies. If it is your nature to be happy you will swim away along the soft trails for hours, your imagination alighting everywhere. And if your spirit carries within it the thorn that is heavier than lead— if it’s all you can do to keep on trudging— there is still somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted— each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered lavishly, every morning, whether or not you have ever dared to be happy, [...]

POETRY: My Silence Is The Lord by Paul Quenon

May 24, 2017

My silence is the Lord, I listen, his silence speaks at all time. When I listen not, my hearing is filled with words and my tongue takes to rambling. My resting place is the Lord a hideaway on a mountain height. The lonely seek and find him. My resting place is the Lord, a low valley by the runlet. All humble steps lead there. “Turn in to my place and sit quietly. Drink from my stream and my vintage. Cast off your shoes, discard your hardships and listen to my evening song: “I seek a heart that is simple. With the peaceful I spread my tent. I will wash your feet and dry them, my silence will be their perfume. “In your quiet steps I will follow. None will know whence we come and where we go. To the world you will be my [...]

POETRY: The Airy Christ, by Stevie Smith

May 17, 2017

(After reading Dr. Rieu’s translation of St. Mark’s Gospel.) Who is this that comes in splendour, coming from the blazing East? This is he we had not thought of, this is he the airy Christ. Airy, in an airy manner in an airy parkland walking. Others take him by the hand, lead him, do the talking. But the Form, the airy One, frowns an airy frown, What they say he knows must be, but he looks aloofly down, Looks aloofly at his feet, looks aloofly at his hands, Knows they must, as prophets say, nailed be to wooden bands. As he knows the words he sings, that he sings so happily Must be changed to working laws, yet sings he ceaselessly. Those who truly hear the voice, the words, the happy song, Never shall need working laws to keep [...]

POETRY: What Good Shall My Life Do Me? by Christina Rossetti

May 13, 2017

Have dead men long to wait?— There is a certain term For their bodies to the worm And their souls at Heaven gate. Dust to dust, clod to clod, These precious things of God, Trampled underfoot by man And beast the appointed years.— Their longest life was but a span For change and smiles and tears. Is it worth while to live, Rejoice and grieve, Hope, fear, and die? Man with man, truth with lie, The slow show dwindles by: At last what shall we have Besides a grave?— Lies and shows no more, No fear, no pain, But after hope and sleep Dear joys again. Those who sowed shall reap: Those who bore The Cross shall wear the Crown: Those who clomb the steep There shall sit down. The Shepherd of the sheep Feeds His flock there, In watered pastures [...]

POETRY: Unquiet Vigil, by Paul Quenon

May 10, 2017

Stale prayer from unreal depths— depths I assume are mine— are relieved by real sleep, that awakens me to my real shallows where prayer amounts to almost nothing or less. Such an infinity where almost nothing dividing endlessly never reaches nothing wherein are real depths not mine… Be kind. Myself, to myself, be [...]

POETRY: The Windhover, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

May 7, 2017

To Christ our Lord I caught this morning morning’s minion, king- dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing! Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier! No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, [...]

POETRY: Experience Bows A Sweet Contented Face by Christina Rossetti

May 6, 2017

Experience bows a sweet contented face. Still setting to her seal that God is true: Beneath the sun, she knows, is nothing new; All things that go return with measured pace, Winds, rivers, man’s still recommencing race:— While Hope beyond Earth’s circle strains her view. Past sun and moon, and rain and rainbow too, Enamored of unseen eternal grace. Experience saith, “My God doth all things well”: And for the morrow taketh little care, Such peace and patience garrison her soul:— While Hope, who never yet hath eyes the goal, With arms flung forth, and backward-floating hair. Touches, embraces, hugs the [...]

POETRY: Spring Beholding, by Mary F. C. Pratt

May 3, 2017

The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. (Julian of Norwich) Otter washing her paws in the cold pond water. Bluebird, robin, forgotten songs come home. Vulture and hawk soaring the slope. Three thin deer, feet splayed in dry grass. Squirrels. Rabbits. Stones. Snowmelt, icy from the hills. Logging truck grunting far down the road, its work its purpose, its heavy [...]

POETRY: Let Me Be To Thee As The Circling Bird, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

April 26, 2017

Let me be to Thee as the circling bird, Or bat with tender and air-crisping wings That shapes in half-light his departing rings, From both of whom a changeless note is heard. I have found my music in a common word, Trying each pleasurable throat that sings And every praised sequence of sweet strings, And know infallibly which I preferred. The authentic cadence was discovered late Which ends those only strains that I approve, And other science all gone out of date And minor sweetness scarce made mention of: I have found the dominant of my range and state— Love, O my God, to call thee Love and [...]

POETRY: Starting Over, by Mary F. C. Pratt

April 26, 2017

—and do you remember the night the long rain stopped? We woke to silence, and moonlight through the high window. No sound but the animals breathing in their sleep— —and the owls— It was so hard to wait but when the dove did not return you worked open the swollen latch and we pushed the ladder out. I shooed away the chickens— all those chickens underfoot. You insisted on going first even though your rheumatism was bad— and I came down right behind you with my knees not so much better. Soft wet dirt, all the swamp stink, but not a cloud in sight. On top of the hill, that one tree —Olive—with little leaves unfolding, beginnings of buds where new olives would be— The children crowded down behind. Everything that could fly [...]

POETRY: We Take The Sky, by Susanna Childress

April 19, 2017

We take the sky, as if red is something we could own, something we might find in the stillest moments, as if the earth is humane and wouldn’t break our bones. (None of His were broken. Not one.) Red is in the land too, is in the way we look at each other, the hardness of our sleep, the need to fall down, to tell of the pox that swept Aunt Jess, the drink that ushers Father, the path that never leads to wealth or rest or health—but the one we always take. Shalom, we say. Buena suerte. We always take the sky, fold it over ourselves, the soil, run it across our skin and cling to it, savoring the tart of a lemon, palming a bar of soap even when our hands are clean, naming the insects that fly across the white bulb of moon late at [...]

POETRY: No Coward Soul Is Mine by Emily Brontë

May 10, 2016

No coward soul is mine, No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere: I see Heaven’s glories shine, And faith shines equal, arming me from fear. O God within my breast, Almighty ever-present Deity! Life—that in me hast rest, As I—undying Life—have Power in Thee! Vain are the thousand creeds That move men’s hearts: unutterably vain; Worthless as withered weeds, Or idlest froth amid the boundless main, To waken doubt in one Holding so fast by thy infinity; So surely anchored on The steadfast rock of Immortality. With wide-embracing love Thy spirit animates eternal years, Pervades and broods above, Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears. Though earth and moon were gone, And suns and universes ceased to [...]

POETRY: Miserere by Margaret Philbrick

May 4, 2016

Sunsets blue on San Miniato al Monte, keeping time with Vesper monks, chanting Latin in dusty robes as yellow warmth stripes the ancient floor. Kneelers creek, knees rub, prayers rise with incense, harmonies unseen. Sunlight bridges an ocean of years, antiphonal groanings now in street clothes. Scuffed shoes ascend, descend modernist steps and answer the hunger of hearts for echo, of cries unceasing, hearts unending. Linking us with the holy, with the solely, devoted suffering servants of his [...]

POETRY: The Dawning by George Herbert

May 4, 2016

Awake sad heart, whom sorrow ever drowns; Take up thine eyes, which feed on earth; Unfold thy forehead gather’d into frowns: Thy Savior comes, and with him mirth: Awake, awake; And with a thankful heart his comforts take. But thou dost still lament, and pine, and cry; And feel his death, but not his victory. Arise sad heart; if thou dost not withstand, Christ’s resurrection thine may be: Do not by hanging down break from the hand Which as it riseth, raiseth thee: Arise, arise; And with his burial-linen dry thine eyes. Christ left his grave-clothes, that we might, when grief Draws tears, or blood, not want an [...]

POETRY: Creed by Abigail Carroll

April 20, 2016

I believe in the life of the word, the diplomacy of food. I believe in salt-thick ancient seas and the absoluteness of blue. A poem is an ark, a suitcase in which to pack the universe—I believe in the universality of art, of human thirst for a place. I believe in Adam’s work of naming breath and weather—all manner of wind and stillness, humidity and heat. I believe in the audacity of light, the patience of cedars, the innocence of weeds. I believe in apologies, soliloquies, speaking in tongues; the underwater operas of whales, the secret prayer rituals of bees. As for miracles— the perfection of cells, the integrity of wings—I believe. Bones know the dust from which they come; all music spins through space on just a breath. I [...]

POETRY: Banding by Suzanne Underwood Rhodes

April 6, 2016

The nets of God hang in every wild place to catch the unwary migrant, one with the skull another to fall from the sky on the ten-thousandth mile, but when he holds one of those small, terrified bodies like a jewel between his thumb and forefinger and unfans the wing to measure it, secretly admiring the bars he conceived to catch his own hungry eye, and the little claw foot he rings with a coded band that numbers the feathers and weds him forever to the pulse in his palm that recalls his own heaving heart the day he flew into a net and hung there thirsting in the woods where only a wasp moved, flicking cobalt wings, when he lets go, when he flings what he has marked into emptiness, he follows the speck with his eye to South America and [...]

POETRY: Second Sunday After Easter by John Keble

April 6, 2016

He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the Most High; which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall arise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.  (Numbers 24:16-17) O for a sculptor’s hand, That thou might’st take thy stand, Thy wild hair floating on the eastern breeze, Thy tranc’d yet open gaze Fix’d on the desert haze, As one who deep in Heaven some airy pageant sees. In outline dim and vast Their fearful shadows cast The giant forms of empires on their way To ruin: one by one They tower [...]

POETRY: That Nature Is A Heraclitean Fire And Of The Comfort Of The Resurrection by Gerard Manley Hopkins

March 30, 2016

Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows flaunt forth, then chevy on an air- Built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs they throng; they glitter in marches. Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, wherever an elm arches, Shivelights and shadowtackle ín long lashes lace, lance, and pair. Delightfully the bright wind boisterous ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare Of yestertempest’s creases; in pool and rut peel parches Squandering ooze to squeezed dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches Squadroned masks and manmarks treadmire toil there Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, nature’s bonfire burns on. But quench her bonniest, dearest her, her clearest-selvèd spark Man, how fast his firedint, his mark on mind, is gone! [...]

POETRY: Easter Monday, by Christina Rossetti

March 28, 2016

Out in the rain a world is growing green, On half the trees quick buds are seen Where glued-up buds have been. Out in the rain God’s Acre stretches green, Its harvest quick tho’ still unseen: For there the Life hath been. If Christ hath died His brethren well may die, Sing in the gate of death, lay by This life without a sigh: For Christ hath died and good it is to die; To sleep whenso He lays us by, Then wake without a sigh. Yea, Christ hath died, yea, Christ is risen again: Wherefore both life and death grow plain To us who wax and wane; For Christ who rose shall die no more again: Amen: till He makes all things plain Let us wax on and [...]