Poetry

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 1 by John Berryman

December 8, 2017

Master of beauty, craftsman of the snowflake, inimitable contriver, endower of Earth so gorgeous & different from the boring Moon, thank you for such as it is my gift. I have made up a morning prayer to you containing with precision everything that most matters. “According to Thy will” the thing begins. It took me off & on two days. It does not aim at eloquence. You have come to my rescue again & again in my impassable, sometimes despairing years. You have allowed my brilliant friends to destroy themselves and I am still here, severely damaged, but functioning. Unknowable, as I am unknown to my guinea pigs: how can I “love” you? I only as far as gratitude & awe confidently & absolutely go. I have [...]

POETRY: Advent In Michigan by Sarah Arthur

December 6, 2017

In time the sons of men filled the earth with their evil deeds. And God beheld the desolate wastes the soiled streets the bitter brown of barren fields and the sin of the world cut him to the heart. “I will blot from the earth the memory of these things. Behold, I will make all things new!” So he gathered up clouds from the four corners of the sky, billows pregnant with promise. He gathered them in great, dark piles on the horizon of hills while the weathermen watched grandmothers gazed schoolchildren pressed their noses against the glass. And God said, “Let there be snow.” First, small white flakes like lace, drifting. Then—wind driving snow before it, a blizzard hiding hills from view (and the tops of church [...]

POETRY: Indoors by R. S. Thomas

December 1, 2017

It was easier to come out with you Into the fields, where birds made no claim On my poor knowledge and flowers grew With no thought but to declare God. Within I had the old problems To cope with: turning from the Book’s Comfortable words, I came face to face With the proud priests and their intolerant [...]

POETRY: Immersion by Denise Levertov

November 29, 2017

There is anger abroad in the world, a numb thunder, because of God’s silence. But how naïve, to keep wanting words we could speak ourselves, English, Urdu, Tagalog, the French of Tours, the French of Haiti… Yes, that was one way omnipotence chose to address us—Hebrew, Aramaic, or whatever the patriarchs chose in their turn to call what they heard. Moses demanded the word, spoken and written. But perfect freedom assured other ways of speech. God is surely patiently trying to immerse us in a different language, events of grace, horrifying scrolls of history and the unearned retrieval of blessings lost for ever, the poor grass returning after drought, timid, persistent. God’s abstention is only from human dialects. The holy voice [...]

POETRY: The Sleep by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

November 28, 2017

Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2) Of all the thoughts of God that are Borne inward unto souls afar, Along the Psalmist’s music deep, Now tell me if that any is, For gift or grace, surpassing this: “He giveth his beloved—sleep?” What would we give to our beloved? The hero’s heart to be unmoved, The poet’s star-tuned harp to sweep, The patriot’s voice to teach and rouse, The monarch’s crown to light the brows? He giveth his beloved—sleep. What do we give to our [...]

POETRY: The Inner History Of A Day by John O’Donohue

November 24, 2017

No one knew the name of this day; Born quietly from deepest night, It hid its face in light, Demanded nothing for itself, Opened out to offer each of us A field of brightness that traveled ahead, Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps And the light of thought to show the way. The mind of the day draws no attention; It dwells within the silence with elegance To create a space for all our words, Drawing us to listen inward and outward. We seldom notice how each day is a holy place Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens, Transforming our broken fragments Into an eternal continuity that keeps us. Somewhere in us a dignity presides That is more gracious than the smallness That fuels us with fear and force, A dignity that trusts [...]

POETRY: Thirst by Mary Oliver

November 22, 2017

Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell; grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers which, with this thirst, I am slowly [...]

POETRY: In Pilgrim Life Our Rest by Edwin Sandys

November 21, 2017

For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all [...]

POETRY: For M. On A Cold Grey Morning by Thomas Merton

November 18, 2017

A grey good morning and rain And melting snow Far from any help Or love, I am warmer At least wanting you. Sorry in the grey Weather without lights Far from any other center I nurse one inner lamp Our common need Which is our common presence It burns alone And still In the wet dark and for us, Lighting a dry place in me I do not know Because it is myself Love’s inner cell Where I am glad to be a prisoner Since I am prisoner with you. While you come back to life in distant rain Looking perhaps at the dark river With blurred eyes Still full of dreams And think of me in my hills, You wake in me, darling. We are nearer than we know Love has another Place of its own Nearer to you than hill or city; Nearer than your own mirror You wake in [...]

POETRY: The Rosary by Frances Caryll Houselander

November 15, 2017

In the doorway of a low grey house, built of stones as old as the Crusades, a woman of Bruges sits in the sunlight, among the flowers, saying her Rosary. She seems to be carved out of season walnut and polished smooth by the constant touch of the hand of God, and the beads that twine her crippled fingers are scarlet berries on the thorny twigs. The running rhythm and the repetition of the Paters and the Aves is like the rhythm that in nature moves through the seasons from seed to harvest with the unity and the pause and stress of music; like the bloodstream of Christ, that flows through the seasons from Advent to Easter in the Liturgy of the Church, the ebb and flow of the tide of love in the Mystical Body of Christ. II God has given His [...]

POETRY: The King of Love my Shepherd Is by Henry W. Baker

November 14, 2017

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23) The King of love my Shepherd is, Whose goodness faileth never, I nothing lack if I am His And He is mine forever. Where streams of living [...]

POETRY: Proverbs by Thomas Merton

November 10, 2017

For Robert Lax 1. I will tell you what you can do ask me if you do not understand what I just said 2. One thing you can do be a manufacturer make appliances 3. Be a Man-u-fac-tu-rer 4. Make appliances sell them for a high price 5. I will tell you about industry make appliances 6. Make appliances that move 7. Ask me if you do not understand what is move 8. First get the facts 9. Where to apply? Ask industry 10. Do not expect to get by without Mr. and Mrs. Consumer 11. Man-u-fic-tion 12. I am wondering if you got the idea be a manu 13. MAKE FALSE GODS 14. Apply mind energy they will move 15. Mention one of the others see what happens 16. Now apply that to our problem 17. Try not to understand 18. Be a mounte-fictioner 19. Surpass all others [...]

POETRY: The Invisible Seen by Saint Athanasios

November 8, 2017

When our dull wits had so declined as to set us mid the squalor of the merely sensible creation, the Very God consented to become a body of His own, that He as one among us might gather our dim senses to Himself, and manifest through such incommensurate occasion that He is not simply man, but also God, the Word and Wisdom of the One. Thereafter, He remained His body, and thus allowed Himself to be observed. His becoming joined to us performed two appalling works in our behalf: He banished death from these our tendered frames, and made of them something new and (take note here) [...]

POETRY: The First Six Verses Of The Ninetieth Psalm by Robert Burns

November 7, 2017

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the Earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.  For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth. (Psalm 90:1-6) O Thou, the first, the greatest friend Of all the human race! Whose strong right hand has ever been Their stay and dwelling-place! Before the [...]

PRAYER: For Unity Of Faiths by Thomas Merton

November 6, 2017

O God, we are one with you.  You have made us one with you.  You have taught us that if we are open to one another, you dwell in us.  Help us to preserve this openness and to fight for it with all our hearts.  Help us to realize that there can be no understanding where there is mutual rejection.  O God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely, we accept you, and we thank you, and we adore you, and we love you with our whole being, because our being is in your being, our spirit is rooted in your spirit.  Fill us then with love, and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways, united in this one spirit which makes you present in the world, and which makes you witness to the ultimate reality that is [...]

POETRY: Excerpts From The Angel Handbook by Kathleen Norris

November 1, 2017

Be careful how you unfold your wings— there are some in the world who are not content unless their teeth are full of feathers You may find employment with the Sanitation Department or at any laundry When you ride subways wear ornate silver shoes and always stand near the door When you cross at intersections look both ways, then up It will often be expedient to altogether remove your wings from your back, where people will first think to look for them, and carry them around inside you— at such times be careful that your hands do not forget and begin to imitate their beating in your heart, for if you begin to fly, the police will be called and you will only confuse them You will find that you are most free when you are able to sit still [...]

POETRY: On The Spirit Adulterated By The Flesh by Henry Colman

October 31, 2017

Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.  My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word. (Psalm 119:24-25) How do I spin my time away In caring how to get Ungodly wealth, and fret My self to sweat, As if thou Lord hadst meant this clay No after life, no reckoning day. What graceless fool would love his Earth So, as with all his might To pamper with delight The same ‘gainst right, Forgetting his divine soul’s birth Was nobler, and of greater worth? Thou Lord didst frame this soul of mine Only to honor thee, Not basely fond to be Of vanity, Unflesh it then, and so refine It Lord it may be all divine. Quicken my dull-drooping spirit That it may praise thy name, Cleanse it from sin and blame, [...]

POETRY: Canaan by Geoffrey Hill

October 29, 2017

I They march at God’s pleasure through Flanders with machine-pistols, chorales, cannon of obese bronze, with groaning pushcarts, to topple Baal. At crossroads they hoist corpses and soiled banners of the Lamb. The sun takes assize. Aloof the blades of oblation rise, fall, as though they were not obstructed by blades of bone. II Fourier’s children their steeds, kazoos, the splashed fetlocks— deliquescent manna that most resembles a sudden urban sleet— shedding innocent blood their ragged fusillade a bit of a laugh indifferent hatred stained with their own works: détentes of corpse-gas reactive furnaces of the spirit immemorial sightings in Canaan: fig trees and planted vines and the groves unguarded messuage for jackals. [...]

POETRY: Batter My Heart, Three-Person’d God by John Donne

October 28, 2017

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend; That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurp’d town to another due, Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end; Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain, But am betroth’d unto your enemy; Divorce me, untie or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish [...]

POETRY: Love Winter When The Plant Says Nothing by Thomas Merton

October 27, 2017

O little forests, meekly Touch the snow with low branches! O covered stones Hide the house of growth! Secret Vegetal words, Unlettered water, Daily zero. Pray undistracted Curled tree Carved in steel— Buried zenith! Fire, turn inward To your weak fort, To a burly infant spot, A house of nothing. O peace, bless this mad place: Silence, love this growth. O silence, golden zero Unsetting sun Love winter when the plant says [...]

POETRY: The Heart Is Deep by Roger Wolcott

October 24, 2017

Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy. Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: that they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not. They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep. (Psalm 64:1-6) He that can trace a ship making her way, Amidst the threatening surges on the sea; Or track a towering eagle in the air, Or [...]

POETRY: The Bibliographers by Geoffrey Hill

October 22, 2017

Lucifer blazing in superb effigies Among the world’s ambitious tragedies, Heaven-sent gift to the dark ages, Now, in the finest-possible light, We approach you; can estimate Your not unnatural height. Though the discrete progeny, Out of their swim, go deflated and dry, We know the feel of you, archaic beauty, Between the tombs, where the tombs still extrude, Overshadowing the sun-struck world: (The shadow-god envisaged in no [...]

POETRY: Temple by John Donne

October 21, 2017

With his kind mother who partakes thy woe, Joseph turn back; see where your child doth sit, Blowing, yea blowing out those sparks of wit, Which himself on the doctors did bestow; The Word but lately could not speak, and lo, It suddenly speaks wonders, whence comes it, That all which was, and all which should be writ, A shallow seeming child, should deeply know? His Godhead was not soul to his manhood, Nor had time mellowed him to this ripeness, But as for one which hath a long task, ’tis good, With the sun to begin his business, He in his age’s morning thus began By miracles exceeding power of [...]

POETRY: The Night Train by Thomas Merton

October 20, 2017

In the unreason of a rainy midnight France blooms along the windows Of my sleepy bathysphere, And runs to seek in a luxuriance of curious lights. Escape is drawn straight through my dream And shines to Paris, clean as violin string, While spring tides of commotion, (The third-class pianos of the Orient Express) Fill up the hollow barrels of my ears. Cities that stood, by day, as gay as lancers Are lost, in the night, like old men dying. At a point where polished rails branch off forever The steels lament, like crazy ladies. We wake, and weep the deaths of the cathedrals That we have never seen, Because we hear the jugulars of the country Fly in the wind, and vanish with a cry. At once the diplomats start up, as white as bread, Buckle the [...]

POETRY: Luke 14, A Commentary by Kathleen Norris

October 18, 2017

So he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11) He is there like Clouseau [...]

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 [...]