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Poetry


Emily Dickinson in Autumn

Besides the Autumn poets sing
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the Haze –

A few incisive mornings –
A few Ascetic eves –
Gone – Mr Bryant’s “Golden Rod” –
And Mr Thomson’s “sheaves.”

Still, is the bustle in the Brook –
Sealed are the spicy valves –
Mesmeric fingers softly touch
The eyes of many Elves –

Perhaps a squirrel may remain –
My sentiments to share –
Grant me, Oh Lord, a sunny mind –
Thy windy will to bear!

(123B, Franklin Variorum 1998)

Image credit: Deng Yingyu

A Poem for Remembering

The Vast Hour
by Genevieve Taggard

All essences of sweetness from the white
Warm day go up in vapor, when the dark
Comes down. Ascends the tune of meadow-lark,
Ascends the noon-time smell of grass, when night
Takes sunlight from the world, and gives it ease.
Mysterious wings have brushed the air; and light
Float all the ghosts of sense and sound and sight;
The silent hive is echoing the bees.
So stir my thoughts at this slow, solemn time.
Now only is there certainty for me
When all the day’s distilled and understood.
Now light meets darkness: now my tendrils climb
In this vast hour, up the living tree,
Where gloom foregathers, and the stern winds brood.

Dickinson on Labor Day

I tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl—
Life’s little duties do—precisely—
As the very least
Were infinite—to me—

I put new Blossoms in the Glass—
And throw the old—away—
I push a petal from my gown
That anchored there—I weigh
The time ’twill be till six o’clock
I have so much to do—
And yet—Existence—some way back—
Stopped—struck—my ticking—through—
We cannot put Ourself away
As a completed Man
Or Woman—When the Errand’s done
We came to Flesh—upon—
There may be—Miles on Miles of Nought—
Of Action—sicker far—
To simulate—is stinging work—
To cover what we are
From Science—and from Surgery—
Too Telescopic Eyes
To bear on us unshaded—
For their—sake—not for Ours—
Twould start them—
We—could tremble—
But since we got a Bomb—
And held it in our Bosom—
Nay—Hold it—it is calm—

Therefore—we do life’s labor—
Though life’s Reward—be done—
With scrupulous exactness—
To hold our Senses—on—

(#522, Franklin Variorum 1998)

To Be Honest: Why It’s Hard (but Helpful) to Tell the Truth

“Before you print a poem, you should reflect on whether this verse could be of use to at least one person in the struggle with himself and with the world.” – Czeslaw Milosz Being honest is often a hard thing for me to do. I don’t actually mind it when someone prefaces their opinion with, […]

Its Radiant Affliction: #Blessed by Empire, Wounded by God

On the day when The weight deadens On your shoulders And you stumble, May the clay dance To balance you. (‘Beannacht,’ John O’Donohue) When my grandmother slanders someone, she always follows it with benevolence. “He’s dumb as a rock,” she’ll say, “bless his heart.” “She ain’t worth a plugged nickel, bless her heart.” I think […]

Carrion Comfort

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

   Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

 

Featured image credit: Deepak sankat

G. K. Chesterton Presents: Christmas in July

Gilbert Keith Chesterton has become rather blasé in Evangelical culture. It’s no longer fashionable to spout Chesterton quotes, as myriad books like “The Quotable Chesterton” (eclipsed only by the coveted “More Quotable Chesterton”) and other anthologies make pinpointing the perfect Chesterton quote for the situation all but trivial. And thus Chesterton (along with Lewis, who […]

What If I Amount to Nothing?

What if I amount to nothing
And come to the end with empty hands?
No podium standing or trophy toting or
Byline, book-bound, crown-found meaning?

What if I am only a creature or object —
A lesson in futility, misplaced effort,
Humility lost and found and lost again.

Perhaps I cannot be optimized. What if
I accomplish nothing more than breath?
What will I be if I become only this, only me?
Flesh and bone filled with grace, drenched in mercy.

This is not a race and you cannot win.
All has been given and given and given.
It is given again each morning, each moment.
No scorecard in sight, no throne (save one).  

What if I amount to nothing
And come to the end with empty hands?
It will be enough.

For Walt So Loved the World

In honor of WW’s 200th birthday, here’s this. I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. (1-3) Whitman is my favorite narcissist. His poetry overflows with ego, but instead of being stuffy, his poetic self is so all-embracing, so […]

Beggars, a Poem: Notes on Need and Circumstance

This reflection and accompanying poem come to us from Becky Carlozzi. The night before my husband and I left for our fifteen-year anniversary trip to Italy, I received a phone call that my friend had been arrested and would spend several weeks in jail. The following day, staring out a window at 30,000 feet, I […]

What Shall It Profit? by William Dean Howells

What Shall It Profit?
William Dean Howells

If I lay waste and wither up with doubt
The blessed fields of heaven where once my faith
Possessed itself serenely safe from death;
If I deny the things past finding out;
Or if I orphan my own soul of One
That seemed a Father, and make void the place
Within me where He dwelt in power and grace,
What do I gain by that I have undone?

“Good Friday: No Way Out but Straight Through, Jack” – Vicki Hearne

“Good Friday: No Way Out but Straight Through, Jack”
by Vicki Hearne (1946-2001)

It’s like chance, but chance knocks but
Won’t open the door, and here’s
A greater thing than we have
Ever done (before we learn
What we are doing). The god
Will become so resplendent
With wounds our eyes must dazzle,

But now our hands hold aloft
The spears that dance in the light
From the hillside. Ecstasy,
Even, should not distract us:
The flesh must be opened full
To the light and wait, bleeding
In welcome. And in welcome

The elegant wounds will close
With all of us safe inside.
But we are not now to know
With Whom we trifle, not yet
To ask forgiveness lest we
Not plunge the gleaming weapons
Heartily. Grief will give wings

And song reveal the purple
Gold, the burnished ground, the flame.

______

featured image: Cross with arma Christi, wood cross, Joaquín López Antay, Fowler Museum at UCLA.