tree_and_leaf: Watercolour of barn owl perched on post. (Owl)
Nominally this is a winter poem - but I think it works well for Passiontide, especially such a snowy one.

Edwin Muir, One Foot in Eden )
tree_and_leaf: Portrait of John Keble in profile, looking like a charming old gentleman with a sense of humour. (anglican)
On an entirely different ecclesiastical note: did you know Wordsworth wrote a sonnet to Our Lady? Not a bad one, at that...

Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature's solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tost;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon
Before her wane begins on heaven's blue coast;
Thy Image falls to earth. Yet some, I ween,
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend,
As to a visible Power, in which did blend
All that was mixed and reconciled in Thee
Of mother's love with maiden purity,
Of high with low, celestial with terrene!

Admittedly "I ween" is Wordsworth at his clunkiest, but I do like the last three and a half lines very much indeed.
tree_and_leaf: Harriet Vane writing, caption edit edit panic edit research edite WRITE. (writing)
I had no idea that Gerard Manley Hopkins had translated the "Adoro Te Devote" (a hymn to Christ in his sacramental presence attributed to Thomas Aquinas). It's slightly strange, stylistically - Hopkins was clearly trying to write a 'normal' hymn, metrically (11 11 11 11 isn't all that common, but it does exist), but the stresses do sometimes fall in slightly strange places.

That said, I like it rather a lot (though I'm not sure about the pelican verse):

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived... )
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
Hmph. Morning has thus far failed at being productive; having discovered I needed to get a friend a birthday present, er, about three days ago, and equally needing hay fever tablets, I sallied into the centre of town, only to discover that Boots wasn't open until 11; which necessitated a protracted hang about in Borders, which, well, I think the phrase is technically 'resulted in', rather than necessitated, spending more money on more books than planned. Ran into Incumbant, and exchanged gulilty glances over stacks of books; he said "You see, this is what happens when you come to a place like this, you have to spend all your time putting down books you've picked up," and I said, "It's putting them down that's the trick," - though I did manage not to splurge on Jim Butcher, so it could have been worse.

On the other hand, I did buy one of UA Fanthorpe's collections, and a nice little book of 100 Favourite Scottish Poems (not kailyaird, honest!) which, though sadly lacking in Buchan, has a good selection of obscure but good stuff, including some which was new to me:

Mary’s Song

I wad ha’e gi’en him my lips tae kiss,
Had I been his, had I been his;
Barley breid and elder wine,
Had I been his as he is mine.

The wanderin’ bee it seeks the rose;
Tae the lochan’s bosom the burnie goes;
The grey bird cries at evenin’s fa’,
‘My luve, my fair one, come awa’.’

My beloved sall ha’e this he’rt tae break,
Reid, reid wine and the barley cake;
A he’rt tae break, an’ a mou’ tae kiss,
Tho’ he be nae mine, as I am his.

Marion, Angus (1866-1946)


And, from the Exile's corner: )
And, even more so: )
However, let us not be sentimental, even about Scotland: so here is an excellent poem of political advice to our lords and masters at Holyrood (or anywhere else):  )
And finally, as a warning to all academics inclined to take themselves too seriously (which is about 99%, and I count myself in the majority), a jolly exercise in quasi-Middle Scots  )
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Gerard Manley Hopkins. I do love this poem.
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
Low Sunday: Abu Ghosh

Calm, fluent, the Mass moves
like robes on a walking body, upright
and in no hurry, the chanted French
swings loose between the stresses.

Finding its way in here
something not quite the hard dawn,
crackling out of the grave, but
heavy, lumbering maybe, quiet,

As it pads in from downstairs,
lies down and looks at us, something
idle (maybe), breathing just audibly,
not without noticing; not to be avoided.

Rowan Williams
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
I really do love Cohen, and this one means an awful lot to me in its depiction of a broken world, but one from which the divine is not absent, indeed is found in the brokenness (and is taking names with regard to oppression and violence). I think Cohen's one of the greatest mystic poets of our century (he's a much better poet than Merton, even if I'm closer to Merton theologically. Although - Every heart, every heart/ To love will come/ But like a refugee strikes me as very like the truth and, incidentally, very close to Julian of Norwich ("Sin is behovely, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well")

There is a crack, there is a crack in everything That's how the light gets in )
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
OK, it's a total cliche, but it's a cliche because it's good..

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.

George Herbert
tree_and_leaf: Head shot of a weasel in evening light. (Our Lady of the Weasels)
I was going to post Quia Amore Langueo, a wonderful and rather hallucinatory piece of fifteenth(?) century bridal/ passion mysticism, with Christ as both lover and mother of the human soul, but it's extremely long, so I shall merely link to it instead.

Have a short, subdued one instead (I think the restraint is more appropriate for Easter Eve, anyway)

Now goth sonnë under wode,
Me reweth, Marie, thi fairë rode*
Now goth sonnë under tre,
Me reweth, Marie, thi sone and thee.


(MS Oxford, Bodl. Arch. Selden, supra 74, but found in other mss. Following T Duncan (ed) Medieval English Lyrics 1200-1400)

In other news, I have a reading list for Dreamwidth (open id only, as yet). Anyone else about there? I've found [ profile] oursin, [ profile] emily_shore, and [ profile] wychwood already...
tree_and_leaf: Photo of spire of Freiburg Minster (14th C broached gothic) silhouetted against sunset. (Schönste Turm)
I am the Great Sun

(From a Normandy crucifix of 1632)

I am the great sun, but you do not see me,
I am your husband, but you turn away.
I am the captive, but you do not free me,
I am the captain you will not obey.

I am the truth, but you will not believe me,
I am the city where you will not stay.
I am your wife, your child, but you will leave me,
I am that God to whom you will not pray.

I am your counsel, but you will not hear me,
I am your lover whom you will betray.
I am the victor, but you do not cheer me,
I am the holy dove whom you will slay.

I am your life, but if you will not name me,
Seal up your soul with tears, and never blame me.

Charles Causley
tree_and_leaf: Photo of spire of Freiburg Minster (14th C broached gothic) silhouetted against sunset. (Schönste Turm)
Part of me suspects that this is a bad poem, but I am rather haunted by it none the less.† The youthful Sayers suffered from a tendency to floweriness and was overly influenced by the Pre-Rapaelites - though this one rather reminds me of Swinburne. Which is ironic, in the circumstances.

* Signed with the sign of His Cross and salted with His salt. S. AUGUSTINE.

"WHEREFORE wilt thou linger, Lady Persephone?
The sheaves are gathered, the vintage is done,
Bacchus through the ivy leaves laughing with his satyrs
Calls us to the feasting, and the ripe, red sun
Drops like an apple, tumbling to the westward,
The shout of the Maenads is merry on the hill,
Why do the wheat-ears fall from thy fingers?
Whom dost thou look for, lingering still?
Whom dost thou look for? Here is one to woo thee, )
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
I actually don't know whether or not this is a whole poem, as I know it only from being quoted in Cyprian Smith's book on Eckhart; however, it seems complete in itself.

On whom Thy Name has set its seal,
From him all movement is unfurled:
He is the centre of the wheel,
He is the axis of the world.

Its beauty sways him yet cannot win him.
Transparent motion and poise and glance
Reveal the sanctuary within him
Through the patterned trellises of dance.

Martin Lings.

- Lings appears to have had an extraordinary life; he was a pupil and friend of CS Lewis, lived in Egypt and became a Sufi, was a Shakespeare scholar, and keeper of oriental printed books and manuscripts at the BM (later seconded to the BL).
tree_and_leaf: Photo of spire of Freiburg Minster (14th C broached gothic) silhouetted against sunset. (Schönste Turm)
Behold: Fire and Spirit in the womb that bore you:
Behold: Fire and Spirit in the river where you were baptised.
Fire and Spirit in our baptism:
In the Bread and the Cup, Fire and Holy Spirit.
In your Bread is hidden a Spirit not to be eaten,
In your Wine dwells a Fire not to be drunk.
Spirit in your Bread, Fire in your Wine,
A wonder set apart, yet received by our lips.
How wonderful your footsteps, walking on the waters!
You subdued the great sea beneath your feet.
Yet to a little stream you subjected your head,
Bending down to be baptised in it.
The stream was like John who performed the baptism in it,
In their smallness each an image of the other.
To the stream so little, to the servant so weak,
The Lord of them both subjected himself.

(Ephrem the Syrian, originally part of Hymn 10 of De fide†. I don't know who did the translation; it is the one which appears in Common Worship: Daily Prayer, the C of E daily liturgy - Other Canticles, number 80).

† Of which there is an exceedingly poor electronic text of a full translation online, but it has not been corrected after scanning, and the resulting corruption is so great that it's pretty much unreadable.
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
Not my nation, of course, but any excuse for poetry is a good one.

Since he was commemorated yesterday, have some Donne, characteristically managing to combine an intense focus on death and God with a certain amount of geeky enthusiasm for science...

tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
Which is a cue for me to post one of my favourite hymns/ prayers, even if Patrick probably didn't write it himself. "S. Patrick's Breastplate" is, nevertheless, awesome. I love its vivid focus on the Incarnation and the fantastic evocation of the beauty and terror of the natural world (and, I must admit, I am very fond of the verse abut wizardry and heresy, even if you're unlikely to sing that in church much these days. I can't help feeling that's a mistake).

The stable earth, the deep salt sea Around the old eternal rocks. )
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
I've been buying books again, most notably The Poetry of Rowan Williams. He has his moments as a poet, does the ABC. I particularly like this one, which is about the Russian icon painter, Rublev, and his icon of the Old Testament Trinity


One day, God walked in, pale from the grey steppe,
slit-eyed against the wind, and stopped,
said, Colour me, breathe your blood into my mouth.

I said Here is the blood of all our people,
these are their bruises, blue and purple,
gold, brown, and pale green wash of death.

These (god) are chromatic pains of flesh.
I said, I trust I make you blush,
O I shall stain you with the scars of birth

For ever. I shall root you in the wood,
under the sun shall bake you bread
of beechmast, never let you forth

to the white desert, to the starving sand.
But we shall sit and speak around
one table, share one food, one earth.

Rowan Williams.

† There's also a really disturbing one about Simone Weil, which is a good poem but would, I think, have to be labelled as triggering for anorexia...
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
RIP John Updike. His books have never appealed much to me, I admit (in fact, embarassingly, I've just realised that I have spent years mixing him up with John Irving, who I don't find appealing either, though the fact that the only one of his I've read, A Prayer for Owen Meaney felt like a cheap knock off of Grass didn't help).

However, I do like Updike's (this definitely is him) Easter poem, which Bishop Alan has just reminded me of:

Seven Easter Stanzas )
tree_and_leaf: Harriet and Peter at a party: caption "Frivoling" (frivoling)
Oh yes: Happy Birthday, too, to John Milton. I don't believe that all true poets are of the devil's party without knowing it, but you do illustrate that true poets are natural members of the awkward squad, and you embodied that nobly.

To celebrate, have a just-about-seasonal poem, which, in its way, is a good example of his awkward-squadishness (and, indeed, of his good and bad qualities generally). It does take a poet supremely confident of his own genius to write the last verse..

Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity

THIS is the month, and this the happy morn
Wherein the Son of Heaven's Eternal King
Of wedded maid and virgin mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing
That He our deadly forfeit should release,
And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.

That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty
Wherewith He wont at Heaven's high council-table
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside; and, here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.

Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to the Infant God?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain
To welcome Him to this His new abode,
Now while the heaven, by the sun's team untrod,
Hath took no print of the approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?

See how from far, upon the eastern road,
The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet:
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode
And lay it lowly at His blessed feet;
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,
And join thy voice unto the Angel quire
From out His secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.

The Hymn, cut to save your flists )
tree_and_leaf: Portrait of John Keble in profile, looking like a charming old gentleman with a sense of humour. (anglican)
Bishop Alan has had a couple of interesting posts about clergy recruitment in the Church of England, and on the roles of priests, which I mean to go back and read properly later (after I've finished being terrified about this evening's presentation). However, what really caught my eye was a GK Chesterton poem the good bishop quotes, which I didn't know.

Chesterton below the cut! )

I'm not at all sure about st 3, but st 4 - wow. It's also rather interesting to read it against Chesterton's (much better known) hymn, 'O God of Earth and Altar'.

Heigho. Must stop procrastinating and instead read through presentation, and see if I did manage to cut enough out of it last night (honestly, who ever came up with the format of a twenty minute paper followed by an hour of discussion wants their head examined - it's the discussion that's making me nervous...)
tree_and_leaf: Portrait of John Keble in profile, looking like a charming old gentleman with a sense of humour. (anglican)
On this day in 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged in Flossenburg near Berlin; he was on the Nazi's list of political prisoners who were under no circumstances to be allowed to survive the war. Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran minister and one of the founders of the 'Confessing Church', who objected to the integration of the church into the state. He was,of course, an extremely sharp theologian, and apparently a good radio broadcaster (he was finally banned from the air after describing Hitler as not a 'Führer', but a 'Verführer' (seducer)). He was employed for a time by the Abwehr, (Military Intelligence, a nest of conspirators, which explains how someone who'd been banned from public speaking could be employed as a spook), and was involved in a number of plots, including discussions about ways and means of killing Hitler; he also helped Jews to escape to Switzerland, and was arrested in 1943 because this came to light. He spent most of the rest of his life in a Gestapo prison in Berlin, but was sent to a concentration camp, tried for treason in a drumhead trial, and hanged for his connections to the July 20th plot against Hitler.

He wrote this poem shortly before New Year 1945, as a present for his parents and his fiancee. I think it's rather good, though unfortunately I haven't found a good English translation and [ profile] juno_magic has kindly provided a translation in the comments.

He is commemorated today in the C of E calendar as theologian and martyr.

Lass warm und hell die Kerzen heute flammen die Du in unsre Dunkelheit gebracht. )


tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)

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