26.2.13

"Poem About Morning" by William Meredith


Poem About Morning
William Meredith

Whether it's sunny or not, it's sure
To be enormously complex -
Trees or streets outdoors, indoors whoever you share,
And yourself, thirsty, hungry, washing,
An attitude towards sex. 
No wonder half of you wants to stay
With your head dark and wishing
Rather than take it all on again:
Weren't you duped yesterday?
Things are not orderly here, no matter what they say. 

But the clock goes off, if you have a dog
It wags, if you get up now you'll be less
Late. Life is some kind of loathsome hag
Who is forever threatening to turn beautiful.
Now she gives you a quick toothpaste kiss
And puts a glass of cold cranberry juice,
Like a big fake garnet, in your hand. 
Cranberry juice! You're lucky, on the whole,
But there is a great deal about it you don't understand.

A Prayer (I)

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you I cry all day long.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,

You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love,

Have mercy on me, a sinner.

In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me.

Lord Jesus Christ

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord

Son of God

Nor are there any works like yours

Have mercy on me

Teach me your way, O Lord

a sinner

Give me an undivided heart

Lord

I give thanks to you, O Lord

Jesus

I will glorify your name forever

Christ

Great is your steadfast love

Mercy

Turn to me, be gracious to me

Me

Show me a sign of your favor

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, you have helped me and comforted me. 

22.2.13

"Otherwise" by Jane Kenyon


Otherwise
by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs. 
It might have been 
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise. 
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood. 
All morning I did
the work I love. 

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise. 
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise. 
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day. 
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise. 

20.2.13

Checking Out

Checking Out

I stand in line, my cash in hand
My eyes flicker from stand to stand
  Swollen breast, pumped up chest
Financial plans, futures best

I step aside, my cash in hand
Alone here in this foreign land
Strobing light, sudden night
Eyes fastened shut, trembling flight

I pant outside, no purchase made
Just one thought I cannot dissuade
Flashing near, hopeful fear
I just do not belong here...


We all check out, one way or another.

17.2.13

Naps

Naps

I walked upstairs today
to find Kristina sleeping. 
I wondered how long she'd lain 
and listened to her breathing. 

I sat and pondered how much longer 
I should let her rest a-sleeping, 
and if she'd had major plans 
with time left to completion

I laid down next to her
with thoughts of tender waking
And then awoke, to my surprise,
with her the one now speaking!

14.2.13

"Ash Wednesday" by T.S. Elliot


 Ash Wednesday 
by T.S. Elliot

I
Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

II
In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.

III
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair.
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jagged, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond repair,
Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs's fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.
Lord, I am not worthy
but speak the word only.

IV
Who walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary's colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary's colour,
Sovegna vos
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

V
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

VI
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth This is the time of tension between dying and birth The place of solitude where three dreams cross Between blue rocks But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away Let the other yew be shaken and reply.
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated
Because I do not hope to know again
Because I know that time is always time
And pray to God to have mercy upon us
Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
Lady of silences
Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
At the first turning of the second stair
At the second turning of the second stair
At the first turning of the third stair
Lord, I am not worthy
Who walked between the violet and the violet
Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
Here are the years that walk between, bearing
White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The silent sister veiled in white and blue
But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew
And after this our exile
If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
O my people, what have I done unto thee.
Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Will the veiled sister pray for
O my people, what have I done unto thee.
Will the veiled sister between the slender
O my people.
Although I do not hope to turn again
Wavering between the profit and the loss
And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
And let my cry come unto Thee.

12.2.13

The Wind and the Rain

When I was just a young man I met a B.C. girl;
She'd warn me on my visits,
with hey, ho, the wind and the rain.
But I did not believe her,
It never rained on me.
Until I asked her hand -
A riverside picnic that never was to be,
for the rain it raineth every day. 

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
     With hey, ho, the wind and the rain:
A foolish thing was but a toy,
     For the rain it raineth every day. 

Now I am a father and much a B.C. man;
I'd warn them when they played
with hey, ho, the wind and the rain.
But children will be children,
and nothing keeps them in,
and thus we built mud castles,
for the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man's estate,
     With hey, ho, the wind and the rain:
'Gainst Knaves and Thieves men shut their gate,
     For the rain it raineth every day. 

Sine then I've entered ministry and seen so much go wrong;
I'd warn them day by day,
with hey, ho, the wind and rain.
It takes more than umbrellas to hold the pain at bay.
We lock our doors and shut our gates,
but still there is the window through which the tragic comes,
for the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came, alas, to wive,
     With hey, ho, the wind and the rain:
By swaggering could I never thrive,
     For the rain it raineth every day. 

The answer's not in confidence nor cautionless behavior;
no shield of man can ever trump the sheer blind force of nature,
with hey, ho, the wind and the rain.
Nature, our enemy, is not one green and wild,
but nature dark and blighted,
which only one can mend.
For the rain it raineth every day. 

But when I came unto my beds, 
     With hey, ho, the wind and the rain:
With toss-pots still had drunken heads, - 
     For the rain it raineth every day. 

Even running will not help us, swift feet, strong drink, nor sleep.
Eventually we must wake up clear
with hey, ho, the wind and the rain.
Best to stand and look, beyond the cloudy sky,
toward the second Adam, the one true face on high.
For the rain it raineth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
     With hey, ho, the wind and the rain:
But that's all one, our Play is done,
     And we'll strive to please you every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
with hey, ho, the wind and the rain.
The one who spoke that word is present,
if we will turn and see,
and He does strive to save and hold us each and every day. 

(The Wind and The Rain by William Shakespeare)

7.2.13

Alone in the Desert

"Jesus went into the desert to pray. That Pharisees accused him not of being a loner, but of hanging around too many people, especially the wrong sorts - harlots and drunkards and raffish fishermen. yet Jesus went into the desert to pray, and stayed there for forty days and forty nights, one day for each year it is said the Israelites spent in the Sinai on their journey of liberation from Egypt to the Promised Land. There in the desert, apart from cities and kingdoms, their leader Moses had heard the name of God, who called Himself I AM, or Being, or Love: since His saying "I AM" to the Israelites was also to say "I AM with you." It was a revelation that shook the world. Likewise when Jesus returned from his prayer, his rich solitude, it was not to be some aloof guru, approachable only by a few. He traveled the length and breadth of Galilee and Judea, preaching to people one by bone, or by thousands and thousands. He came preaching in parables, imaginative stories crafted to reveal to man both where his heart really lay, and where it should lie instead. He preached, and the noise was stilled, and people began to hear, just a little, and to know the love to which he came to give witness. "Know," he says in his farewell to his disciples, "I AM with you, to the end of time."

And at a stroke, they who follow that wisdom - whether they acknowledge it or not, and whoever they suppose the wisdom may come from - are set free, if but now and then, to stand erect beneath the star-powdered vault of heaven. They are free to wonder, and free to love. They will be, if but now and then, shiningly human, the terrible creatures against whom no empire can stand. If, then, our current empire of the mass man is to survive, we must resist the temptations of the One whom Elijah heard in the still small voice. For unlike the serpent in the garden, He really would make us be as gods, and set us free. We prefer our bonds instead."

- Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen

To Stand

From many angles nothingness insinuates itself into the bones. For something without substance it is a powerful presence oft neglected. To go against the void may tear one apart; nature abhors a vacuum. Sometimes there is but one path: To stand. To stand, in silence, armored for the fight, and after all is said and done, to stand. 

I often find the need to stand in such a way, as in the last months, and this blog has reflected that fact. For while grave nothing abounds around me, it is when I see it within me that I recoil most violently. Armor cannot hold one up if rotten from the inside and so that dark flow, though always present, once reared must be attended to with swift and ruthless action. 

Perhaps I am back. Perhaps.