poetry

POETRY: Third Sunday After Epiphany by John Keble

January 21, 2018

When Jesus heard it he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel. (Matthew 8:10) I mark’d a rainbow in the north, What time the wild autumnal sun From his dark veil at noon look’d forth, As glorying in his course half done, Flinging soft radiance far and wide Over the dusky Heaven and bleak hillside. It was a gleam to memory dear, And as I walk and muse apart, When all seems faithless round and drear, I would revive it in my heart, And watch how light can find its way To regions farthest from the fount of day. Light flashes in the gloomiest sky, And Music in the dullest plain, For there the lark is soaring high Over her flat and leafless reign, And chanting in so [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 7 by John Berryman

January 19, 2018

After a Stoic, a Peripatetic, a Pythagorean, Justin Martyr studied the words of the Savior, finding them short, precise, terrible & full of refreshment. I am tickled to learn this. Let one day desolate Sherry, fair, thin, tall, at 29 today her life the Sahara Desert, who never has once enjoyed a significant relation, so find His lightning [...]

POETRY: Revelation by Christos Victor

January 17, 2018

Father breathes with us; true maiden bears a son census in a tribal village hosts herald good tidings acquit sleeping shepherd’s quake to visit scant inn’s trough three sibylline kings seek infant thwart vassal Herod’s cunning route; swathe him in myrrh, frankincense, gold seraph warns Joseph flee to Egypt, in Bethlehem swords sing; first-blood spilled rewind path to Nazareth, carpenter’s son teaches priests; on blighted tree hung spurned lamb’s sacrifice frees dead to receive resurrection; children sing, dance, and open gifts “the happy give don’t take”; jews and “dogs” eat at the groom’s wedding [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 6 by John Berryman

January 12, 2018

Under new management, Your Majesty: Thine. I have solo’d mine since childhood, since my father’s blow-it-all when I was twelve blew out my most bright candle faith, and look at me. I served at Mass six dawns a week from five, adoring Father Boniface & you, memorizing the Latin he explained. Mostly we worked alone. One or two women. Then my poor father frantic. Confusions & afflictions followed my days. Wives left me. Bankrupt I closed my doors. You pierced the roof twice & again. Finally you opened my eyes. My double nature fused in that point of time three weeks ago day before yesterday. Now, brooding thro’ a history of the early Church, I identify with everybody, even the [...]

POETRY: The Magi by William Butler Yeats

January 10, 2018

Now as at all times I can see in the mind’s eye, In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones Appear and disappear in the blue depth of the sky With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones, And all their helms of silver hovering side by side, And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more, Being by Calvary’s turbulence unsatisfied, The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial [...]

POETRY: Twelfth Night by Phyllis McGinley

January 6, 2018

Down from the window take the withered holly. Feed the torn tissue to the literal blaze. Now, now at last are come the melancholy Anticlimactic days. Here in the light of morning, hard, unvarnished, Let us with haste dismantle the tired tree Of ornaments, a trifle chipped and tarnished, Pretend we do not see How all the rooms seem shabbier and meaner And the tired house a little less than snug. Fold up the tinsel. Run the vacuum cleaner Over the littered rug. Nothing is left. The postman passes by, now, Bearing no gifts, no kind or seasonal word. The icebox yields no wing, no nibbled thigh, now, From any holiday bird. Sharp in the streets the north wind plagues its betters While Christmas snow to gutters is consigned. Nothing remains [...]

POETRY: Epiphany by Robert Fitzgerald

January 6, 2018

Unearthly lightning of presage In any dark day’s iron age May come to lift the hair and bless Even our tired earthliness, And sundown bring an age of gold, Forgèd in faëry, far and old, An elsewhere and an elfin light, And kings rise eastward in the [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 5 by John Berryman

January 5, 2018

Holy & holy. The damned are said to say “We never thought we would come into this place.” I’m fairly clear, my Friend, there’s no such place ordained for inappropriate & evil man. Surely they fall dull, & forget. We too, the more or less just, I feel fall asleep dreamless forever while the world hurl out. Rest may be your ultimate gift. Rest or transfiguration! come & come whenever Thou wilt. My daughter & my son fend will without me, when my work is done in Your opinion. Strengthen my widow, let her dream on me thro’ tranquil hours less & down to less. Abrupt elsewhere her heart, I sharply hope. I leave her in wise [...]

POETRY: Untrimming The Tree by John N. Morris

January 4, 2018

Now all that scintillation is a chore. What they so recently assembled Piece by piece in imitation Of every year for twenty years ago Each day became more everyday. The delicate contrivances ignored, This clutter in a corner of the eye Now is an hour on the stepladder And woman’s work. This afternoon, The sunlight brave and January thin Reflecting on her, she sets down Lightlier than they lifted them Angel and orb and cardboard cornucopia, The candy cane old as the eldest child. Once she has packed away the annual farm (Each cotton sheep plump as a thumb), Hanging the glassy surface of the lake Up on its hook in the back bedroom, She sends the snowy field out to the laundry. Arms full of a great weightlessness she arises Toward the [...]

POETRY: Mother Christmas by Roald Dahl

January 3, 2018

“Where art thou, Mother Christmas? I only wish I knew Why Father should get all the praise And no one mentions you. I’ll bet you buy the presents And wrap them large and small While all the time that rotten swine Pretends he’s done it all. So Hail To Mother Christmas Who shoulders all the work! And down with Father Christmas, That unmitigated [...]

POETRY: Christmas In India by Rudyard Kipling

January 2, 2018

Dim dawn behind the tamerisks—the sky is saffron-yellow— As the women in the village grind the corn, And the parrots seek the riverside, each calling to his fellow That the Day, the staring Easter Day, is born. O the white dust on the highway! O the stenches in the byway! O the clammy fog that hovers over earth! And at Home they’re making merry ‘neath the white and scarlet berry— What part have India’s exiles in their mirth? Full day behind the tamarisks—the sky is blue and staring— As the cattle crawl afield beneath the yoke, And they bear One o’er the field-path, who is past all hope or caring, To the ghat below the curling wreaths of smoke. Call on Rama, going slowly, as ye bear a brother lowly— Call [...]

POETRY: New Year Poem by Philip Larkin

January 1, 2018

The short afternoon ends, and the year is over; Above trees at the end of the garden the sky is unchanged, An endless sky; and the west street, as ever, Between standing houses are empty and unchallenged. From roads where men go home I walk apart —The buses bearing their loads away from works, Through the dusk the bicycles coming home from bricks— There evening like a derelict lorry is alone and mute. These houses are deserted, felt over smashed windows, No milk on the step, a note pinned to the door Telling of departure: only shadows Move when in the day the sun is seen for an hour, Yet to me this decaying landscape has its uses: To make me remember, who am always inclined to forget. That there is always a changing at the root, And a [...]

POETRY: Dirge For The Year by Percy Bysshe Shelly

January 1, 2018

Orphan Hours, the year is dead, Come and sigh, come and weep! Merry Hours, smile instead, For the Year is but asleep. See, it smiles as it is sleeping, Mocking your untimely weeping. As an earthquake rocks a corse In its coffin in the clay, So White Winter, that rough nurse, Rocks the death-cold Year today; Solemn Hours! wail aloud For your mother in her shroud. As the wild air stirs and sways The tree-swung cradle of a child, So the breath of these rude days Rocks the Year:—be calm and mild, Trembling Hours; she will arise With new love within her eyes. January grey is here, Like a sexton by her grave; February bears the bier, March with grief doth howl and rave, And April weeps—but, O ye Hours, Follow with May’s fairest [...]

POETRY: A Christmas Ghost-Story by Thomas Hardy

December 30, 2017

Christmas Eve 1899 South of the Line, inland from far Durban, A mouldering soldier lies – your countryman. Awry and doubled up are his gray bones, And on the breeze his puzzled phantom moans Nightly to clear Canopus: “I would know By whom and when the All-Earth-Gladdening Law of Peace, brought in by that Man Crucified, Was ruled to be inept, and set aside? And what of logic or of truth appears In tackling “Anno Domini” to the years? Near twenty-hundred liveried thus have hied, But tarries yet the Cause for which He [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 4 by John Berryman

December 29, 2017

If I say Thy name, art Thou there? It may be so. Thou art not absent-minded, as I am. I am so much so I had to give up driving. You attend, I feel, to the matters of man. Across the ages certain blessings swarm, horrors accumulate, the best men fail: Socrates, Lincoln, Christ mysterious. Who can search Thee out? except Isaiah & Pascal, who saw. I dare not ask that vision, though a piece of it at last in crisis was vouchsafèd me. I altered then for good, to become yours. Caretaker! take care, for we run in straight. Daily, by night, we walk naked to storm, some threat of wholesale loss, to ruinous fear. Gift us with long cloaks & adrenaline. Who haunt the avenues of Angkor Wat recalling all that prayer, that glory dispersed, haunt [...]

POETRY: December by John Clare

December 28, 2017

Christmas is come and every hearth Makes room to give him welcome now, E’en want will dry its tears in mirth, And crown him with a holly bough; Though tramping ‘neath a winter sky. O’er snowy track paths and rimy stiles, The housewife sets her spinning by And bids him welcome with her smiles. Each house is swept the day before, And windows stuck with evergreens, The snow is besom’d from the door, And comfort crowns the cottage scenes. Gilt holly, with its thorny pricks, And yew and box, with berries small, These deck the unused candlesticks, And pictures hanging by the wall. Neighbors resume their annual cheer, Wishing with smiles and spirits high, Glad Christmas and a happy year, To every morning passer-by; Milkmaids, their [...]

POETRY: Our Christmas Tree by Wendell Berry

December 27, 2017

Our Christmas tree is not electrified, is not covered with little lights calling attention to themselves (we have had enough of little lights calling attention to themselves). Our tree is a cedar cut here, one of the fragrances of our place, hung with painted cones and paper stars folded long ago to praise our tree, Christ come into the [...]

POETRY: A Christmas Carol by G. K. Chesterton

December 26, 2017

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap, His hair was like a light. (O weary, weary were the world, But here is all aright.) The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast His hair was like a star. (O stern and cunning are the kings, But here the true hearts are.) The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart, His hair was like a fire. (O weary, weary is the world, But here the world’s desire.) The Christ-child stood on Mary’s knee, His hair was like a crown, And all the flowers looked up at Him, And all the stars looked [...]

POETRY: Nativity by John Donne

December 25, 2017

Immensity, cloister’d in thy dear womb, Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment, There he hath made himself to his intent Weak enough, now, into our world to come. But O!, for thee, for Him, hath th’inn no room? Yet lay Him in this stall, and from th’Orient, Stars and wise men will travel to prevent The effects of Herod’s jealous general doom. See’st thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eye, how He Which fills all place, yet none hold Him, doth lie? Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high, That would have need to be pitied by thee? Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go With his kind mother, who partakes Thy [...]

POETRY: Christmas Eve by Anne Sexton

December 24, 2017

Oh sharp diamond, my mother! I could not count the cost of all your faces, your moods— that present that I lost. Sweet girl, my deathbed, my jewel-fingered lady, your portrait flickered all night by the bulbs of the tree. Your face as calm as the moon over a mannered sea, presided at the family reunion, the twelve grandchildren you used to wear on your wrist, a three-months-old baby, a fat check you never wrote, the red-haired toddler who danced the twist, your aging daughters, each one a wife, each one talking to the family cook, each one avoiding your portrait, each one aping your life. Later, after the party, after the house went to bed, I sat up drinking the Christmas brandy, watching your picture, letting the tree move in and out of [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 3 by John Berryman

December 22, 2017

Sole watchman of the flying stars, guard me against my flicker of impulse lust: teach me to see them as sisters & daughters. Sustain my grand endeavors: husbandship & crafting. Forsake me not when my wild hours come; grant me sleep nightly, grace soften my dreams achieve in me patience till the thing be done, a careful view of my achievement come. Make me from time to time the gift of the shoulder. When all hurt nerves whine shut away the whiskey. Empty my heart toward Thee. Let me pace without fear the common path of death. Cross am I sometimes with my little daughter: fill her eyes with tears. Forgive me, Lord. Unite my various soul, sole watchman of the wide & single [...]

POETRY: The Eternal Son by Li-Young Lee

December 20, 2017

Someone’s thinking about his mother tonight. The wakeful son of a parent who hardly sleeps, the sleepless father of his own restless child, God, is it you? Is it me? Do you have a mother? Who mixes flour and sugar for your birthday cake? Who stirs slumber and remembrance in a song for your bedtime? If you’re the cry enjoining dawn, who birthed you? If you’re the bell tolling night without circumference, who rocked you? Someone’s separating the white grains of his insomnia from the black seeds of his sleep. If it isn’t you, God, it must be me. My mother’s eternal son, I can’t hear the rain without thinking it’s her in the next room folding our clothes to lay inside a suitcase. And now [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 2 by John Berryman

December 15, 2017

Holy, as I suppose I dare to call you without pretending to know anything about you but infinite capacity everywhere & always & in particular certain goodness to me. Yours is the crumpling, to my sister-in-law terrifying thunder, yours the candelabra buds sticky in Spring, Christ’s mercy, the gloomy wisdom of godless Freud: yours the lost souls in ill-attended wards, those agonized thro’ the world at this instant of time, all evil men, Belsen, Omaha Beach,— incomprehensible to man your ways. May be the Devil after all exists. “I don’t try to reconcile anything” said the poet at eighty, “This is a damned strange world.” Man is ruining the pleasant earth & man. What at last, My Lord, [...]

POETRY: Flight by Jeanne Murray Walker

December 13, 2017

The angel speeding down the runway pulls up her wings flaps, and, wouldn’t you know it, wobbles, then dribbles to a stop. She stands on the windy tarmac, embarrassed, brushing her blond hair from her eyes, trying to remember how to elevate herself, wishing she’d worn jeans instead of the girly skirt that works for flying. It’s gravity’s old malice, showing up in the strangest places, for instance at the corner where the fortune cookie truck forgets how to turn, tipping gracefully, sliding on its side as cookies spill into the summer night. Around the city good luck stalls, turning us into bodies, just protoplasm for a wasp to sting. Even love is a sad mechanical business then, and prayer an accumulation of words I [...]

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 [...]