Poetry

POETRY: Ground Swell by Mark Jarman

October 18, 2017

Is nothing real but when I was fifteen, Going on sixteen, like a corny song? I see myself so clearly then, and painfully— Knees bleeding through my usher’s uniform Behind the candy counter in the theater After a morning’s surfing; paddling frantically To top the brisk outsiders coming to wreck me, Trundle me clumsily along the beach floor’s Gravel and sand; my knees aching with salt. Is that all I have to write about? You write about the life that’s vividest. And if that is your own, that is your subject. And if the years before and after sixteen Are colorless as salt and taste like sand— Return to those remembered chilly mornings, The light spreading like a great skin on the water, And the blue water scalloped with [...]

POETRY: Meditation Seven by Edward Taylor

October 17, 2017

My  heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. (Psalm 45:1-2) Thy human frame, my glorious Lord, I spy. A golden still with Heavenly choice drugs filled Thy holy love, the glowing heat whereby The spirit of grace is graciously distilled. Thy mouth the neck through which these spirits still; My soul thy vial make, and therewith fill. Thy speech the liquor in thy vessel stands, Well tinged with grace, a blessed tincture, lo, Thy words distilled grace in thy lips poured, and Give graces tincture in them where they go. Thy words in graces [...]

POETRY: Wilt Thou Love God? by John Donne

October 15, 2017

Wilt thou love God, as he thee? then digest, My Soule, this wholsome meditation, How God the Spirit, by Angels waited on In Heaven, doth make his Temple in thy brest. The Father having begot a Sonne most blest, And still begetting, (for he ne’r begonne) Hath deign’d to chuse thee by adoption, Coheire to his glory, and Sabbaths endless rest; And as a robb’d man, which by search doth finde His stolne stuffe sold, must lose or buy it againe: The Sonne of glory came downe, and was slaine, Us whom he had made, and Satan stolne, to unbinde. ‘Twas much, that man was made like God before, But, that God should be made like man, much [...]

POETRY: A Prayer To Eve by Kathleen Norris

October 14, 2017

Mother of fictions and of irony, help us to laugh. Mother of science and the critical method, keep up humble. Muse of listeners, hope of interpreters, inspire us to act. Bless our metaphors, that we might eat them. Help us to know, Eve, the one thing we must do. Come with us, muse of exile, mother of the [...]

POETRY: For M. In October by Thomas Merton

October 13, 2017

If you and I could meet up there In that cool cloud Like two sun Beams or birds Going straight to South America Or distracted spirits Flying together innocent In midair Or if we could be Together like two barges in a string Or tight wandering rafts Heading downriver to St Louis or New Orleans If we could come together like two parts Of one love song Two chords going hand in hand A perfect arrangement And be two parts of the same secret (Oh if we could recover And tell again Our midsummer secret!) If you and I could even start again as strangers Here in this forsaken field Where crickets rise up Around my feet like spray Out of a green ocean… But I am alone, Alone walking up and down Leaning on the silly wind And talking out loud like a [...]

POETRY: In Memory Of Jane Fraser by Geoffrey Hill

October 11, 2017

When snow like sheep lay in the fold And winds went begging at each door, And the far hills were blue with cold, And a cold shroud lay on the moor, She kept the siege. And every day We watched her brooking over death Like a strong bird above its prey. The room filled with the kettle’s breath. Damp curtains glued against the pane Sealed time away. Her body froze As if to freeze us all, and chain Creation to a stunned repose. She died before the world could stir. In March the ice unloosed the brook And water ruffled the sun’s hair. Dead cones upon the alder [...]

POETRY: Daydreaming by Simone Weil

October 11, 2017

I believe that the root of evil, in everybody perhaps, but certainly in those whom affliction has touched, is daydreaming. It is the sole consolation, the unique resource of the afflicted; the one solace that helps them bear the fearful burden of time; and a very innocent one, besides being indispensable. So how could it be possible to renounce it? It has only one disadvantage, which is that it is unreal. To renounce it for the love of truth is really to abandon all one’s possessions in a mad excess of love and to follow Him who is the personification of Truth. And it is really to bear the cross; because time is the cross. In all its forms without exception, daydreaming is falsehood. It excludes love. Love is [...]

POETRY: In Tenebris II by Thomas Hardy

October 10, 2017

Considerabam ad dexteram, et videbam; et non erat qui cognosceret me.  Non est qui requirat animam meam. [I looked also upon my right hand, and saw there was no man that would know me; no man cared for my soul.] (Psalm 142:5) When the clouds’ swoln bosoms echo back the shouts of the many and strong That things are all as they best may be, save a few to be right ere long, And my eyes have not the vision in them to discern what to these is so clear, The blot seems straightway in me alone; one better he were not here. The stout upstanders say, All’s well with us: ruers have nought to rue! And what the potent say so oft, can it fail to be somewhat true? Breezily go they, breezily come; their dust smokes around their career, Till I [...]

POETRY: Mrs. Adam by Kathleen Norris

October 8, 2017

I have lately come to the conclusion that I am Eve, alias Mrs. Adam. You know, there is no account of her death in the Bible, and why am I not Eve? (Emily Dickinson in a letter, 12 January, 1846) Wake up, you’ll need your wits about you. This is not a dream, but a woman who loves you, speaking. She was there when you cried out; she brushed the terror away. She knew when it was time to sin. You were wise to let her handle it, and leave that place. We couldn’t speak at first for the bitter knowledge, the sweet taste of memory on our tongues. Listen, it’s time. You were chosen too, to put the world [...]

POETRY: Genesis by Geoffrey Hill

October 7, 2017

I Against the burly air I strode Crying the miracles of God. And first I brought the sea to bear Upon the dead weight of the land; And the waves flourished at my prayer, The rivers spawned their sand. And where the streams were salt and full The tough pig-headed salmon strove, Ramming the ebb, in the tide’s pull, To reach the steady hills above. II The second day I stood and saw The osprey plunge with triggered claw, Feathering blood along the shore, To lay the living sinew bare. And the third day I cried: “Beware The soft-voiced owl, the ferret’s smile, The hawk’s deliberate stoop in air, Cold eyes, and bodies hooped in steel, Forever bent upon the kill.” III And I renounced, on the fourth day, This fierce [...]

POETRY: Whether There Is Enjoyment In Bitterness by Thomas Merton

October 6, 2017

This afternoon, let me Be a sad person. Am I not Permitted (like other men) To be sick of myself? Am I not allowed to be hollow, Or fall in the hole Or break my bones (within me) In the trap set by my own Lie to myself? O my friend, I too must sin and sin. I too must hurt other people and (Since I am no exception) I must be hated by them. Do not forbid me, therefore, To taste the same bitter poison, And drink the gall that love (Love most of all) so easily becomes. Do not forbid me (once again) to be Angry, bitter, disillusioned, Wishing I could die. While life and death Are killing one another in my flesh, Leave me in peace. I can enjoy, Even as other men, this agony. Only (whoever you may be) Pray for my soul. Speak my name To Him, for [...]

POETRY: The Holy Ghost by John Donne

October 4, 2017

O Holy Ghost, whose temple I Am, but of mud walls, and condensèd dust, And being sacrilegiously Half wasted with youth’s fires, of pride and lust, Must with new storms be weather-beat; Double in my heart Thy flame, Which let devout sad tears intend; and let (Though this glass lanthorn, flesh, do suffer maim) Fire, Sacrifice, Priest, Altar be the [...]

POETRY: The Inward Stirring by John Ruysbroeck

October 4, 2017

The inward stirring and touching of God makes us hungry and yearning; for the Spirit of God hunts our spirit; and the more it touches it, the greater our hunger and our craving. And this is the life of love in its highest working, above reason and above understanding; for reason can here neither give nor take away from love, for our love is touched by the Divine [...]

POETRY: Along The Banks by Joel Barlow

October 3, 2017

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.  We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.  For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.  How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?  If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.  If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.  Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.  O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, [...]

POETRY: The End Of The World by Scott Cairns

September 30, 2017

The end of the world occurs with the first thaw. Waking from his first restful night in many months—a night without shivering, without cramp- ing muscles—the last man lifts his head from the straw, hears snow-melt trickling, sees morning light through the window’s ice, smells the scent of earth, lies back, and dies because he cannot bear to go through it all again. But that is a very limited view of the event. The end was more than the final exhaustion of the last man. Actually, some of the most interesting events of human history occurred just prior to this last gesture, which is not surprising if you take into account the fact that, in the last years of human experience, irony flourished. The last man was a Jew, a fact that he [...]

POETRY: The Night Of Destiny by Thomas Merton

September 29, 2017

In my ending is my meaning Says the season. No clock: Only the heart’s blood Only the word. O lamp Weak friend In the knowing night! O tongue of flame Under the heart Speak softly: For love is black Says the season. The red and sable letters On a solemn page Fill the small circle of seeing. Long dark— And the weak life Of oil. Who holds the homeless light secure In the deep heart’s room? Midnight! Kissed with flame! See! See! My love is darkness! Only in the Void Are all ways one: Only in the night Are all the lost Found. In my ending is my [...]

POETRY: What The Figtree Said by Denise Levertov

September 28, 2017

Literal minds! Embarrassed humans! His friends were blurting for Him in secret: wouldn’t admit they were shocked. They thought Him petulant to curse me!—yet how could the Lord be unfair?—so they looked away, then and now. But I, I knew that helplessly barren though I was, my day had come. I served Christ the Poet, who spoke in images: I was at hand, a metaphor for their failure to bring forth what is within them (as figs were not within me). They who had walked in His sunlight presence, they could have ripened, could have perceived His thirst and hunger, His innocent appetite; they could have offered human fruits—compassion, comprehension— without being asked, without being told of need. My absent fruit stood for their barren [...]

POETRY: The Darkness by Angela of Foligno

September 27, 2017

When I enter that darkness I cannot recall a bit about anything human, or about the God-man, or anything owning specific form. Nonetheless, I see all and I see nothing. As this that I have spoken of withdraws—though not completely, as it seems to stay with me—I see the God-man. He draws my soul with utmost gentleness and maybe He whispers You are I and I am you. I see, then, those eyes and that face go gracious and attractive as He leans to draw me to Himself. In short, what proceeds from those eyes and what descends from that face is what I said I saw in that previous darkness rising from within, and which delights me so that I can say nothing much about it. When I am in the God-man, then my soul is alive. And I am in the God-man much [...]

POETRY: Laudate Dominum by Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke

September 26, 2017

O praise the Lord, all ye nation: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalm 117:1–2) Praise him that aye Remains the same: All tongues display Iehavoa’s fame. Sing all that share This Earthly ball: His mercies are Exposed to all: Like as the word Once he doth give, Rolled in record, Doth time [...]

POETRY: On Slow Learning by Scott Cairns

September 24, 2017

If you’ve ever owned a tortoise, you know how terribly difficult paper training can be for some pets. Even if you get so far as to instill in your tortoise the value of achieving the paper, there remains one obstacle— your tortoise’s intrinsic sloth. Even a well-intentioned tortoise may find himself in his journeys to be painfully far from the mark. Failing, your tortoise may shy away for weeks within his shell, utterly ashamed, or, looking up with tiny, wet eyes, might offer an honest shrug. Forgive [...]

POETRY: The Beginning Of Wisdom by Denise Levertov

September 23, 2017

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10) You have brought me so far. • I know so much. Names, verbs, images. My mind overflows, a drawer that can’t close • Unscathed among the tortured. Ignorant parchment uninscribed, light strokes only, where a scribe tried out a pen. • I am so small, a speck of dust moving across the huge world. The world a speck of dust in the universe. • Are you holding the universe? You hold only my smallness. How do you grasp it, how does it not slip away? • I know so little. • You have brought me so [...]

POETRY: Litany by Thomas Merton

September 22, 2017

All holy souls pray for us fellows, all Carmelites pray all Third Orders, all sodalities, all altar societies, all action groups, all inaction groups, all beat up shut in groups, all without money groups, pray for the rich Trappists cheese groups vice versa mutual help, amen, [...]

POETRY: A Loss Of Something Ever Felt I— by Emily Dickinson

September 20, 2017

A loss of something ever felt I— The first that I could recollect Bereft I was—of what I knew not Too young that any should suspect A Mourner walked among the children I notwithstanding went about As one bemoaning a Dominion Itself the only Prince cast out— Elder, Today, a session wiser And fainter, too, as Wiseness is— I find myself still softly searching For my Delinquent Palaces— And a Suspicion, like a Finger Touches my Forehead now and then That I am looking oppositely For the site of the Kingdom of [...]

POETRY: Invitation To The God by Richard Rolle

September 20, 2017

Sear my inmost being with Your fire, and my heart will burn on Your altar forever. Come, I beg You, O sweet and true glory! Come, O most desired sweetness! Come, my Beloved, Who are my whole consolation, to my soul—now languishing for Your sake and inclined to You— and slip into it with most sweetly flowing love. Set ablaze with Your heat every penetrable place of my heart and, by filling its inmost places with Your light, feed the whole with the honey-flowing joy of Your love, in order to snatch up in new, noetic union this mind and [...]

POETRY: Praise Ye The Lord, O Celebrate His Fame by Peleg Folger

September 19, 2017

O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the Earth is full of thy riches.  So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.  There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.  That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.  Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.  Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the Earth.  The glory of the Lord shall endure forever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works. [...]

POETRY: Of Being by Denise Levertov

September 17, 2017

I know this happiness is provisional: the looming presences— great suffering, great fear— withdraw only into peripheral vision: but ineluctable this shimmering of wind in the blue leaves: this flood of stillness widening the lake of sky: this need to dance, this need to kneel: this [...]

POETRY: Do People Moulder Equally by Emily Dickinson

September 16, 2017

For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.  Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom. (Matthew 16:27-28) Do People moulder equally, They bury, in the Grave? I do believe a Species As positively live As I, who testify it Deny that I—am dead— And fill my Lungs, for Witness— From Tanks—above my Head— I say to you, said Jesus— That there be standing here— A Sort, that shall not taste of Death— If Jesus was sincere— I need no further Argue— That statement of the Lord Is not a controvertible— He told me, Death was [...]

POETRY: Sacred Heart 2 (A Fragment—) by Thomas Merton

September 15, 2017

Geography comes to an end, Compass has lost all earthly north, Horizons have no meaning Nor roads an explanation: I cannot even hope for any special borealis To rouse my darkness with a brief “Hurray”! O flaming Heart, Unseen and unimagined in this wilderness, You, You alone are real, and here I’ve found You. Here will I love and praise You in a tongueless death, Until my white devoted bones, Long bleached and polished by the winds of this Sahara, Relive at Your command, Rise and unfold the flowers of their everlasting [...]

POETRY: Another Song by Scott Cairns

September 13, 2017

Most mornings I wake up slowly. That’s just the way I am. I wake up slow as I can, listening first to one thing, then another. The milk bottles chiming just outside the door, then the milktruck idling in the street. If I’m lucky, the girl through the wall will be singing and I’ll hear her next, singing while she dresses. Maybe she’s brushing her hair, or tying the ribbon for her stocking —that would be nice. And out in the hall, some man will probably kiss Miss Weitz good-bye again—yes, I believe those are their lowered voices now, and that is his cough. Others are coming out now, their doors opening and closing so variously, too many to sort out. Why sort them out? And now the factory whistle is telling the [...]