tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
Today is the feast of Catherine of Siena, so here is an extract from her writings:

We were enclosed,
O eternal Father,
within the garden of your breast.
You drew us out of your holy mind
like a flower
petaled with our soul's three powers,
and into each power
you put the whole plant,
so that they might bear fruit in your garden,
might come back to you
with the fruit you gave them.
And you would come back to the soul,
to fill her with your blessedness.
There the soul dwells --
like the fish in the sea
and the sea in the fish.

(Trans. Suzanne Noffke)
tree_and_leaf: Portrait of John Keble in profile, looking like a charming old gentleman with a sense of humour. (anglican)
I've more or less failed at posting poetry this month. On the other hand, today is the commemoration of Christina Rossetti (as I was reminded at morning prayer this morning), so I have no excuse for forgetting today.

This one is a bit of a curiosity, really, and I wouldn't claim it's her greatest work. On the other hand, I rather like it; mostly because I recognise the sentiment, as an Anglican catholic - the admiration of Newman and sympathy for him - with a slight hint of ambiguity...

Cardinal Newman.

“In the grave, whither thou goest.”

O weary Champion of the Cross, lie still:
Sleep thou at length the all-embracing sleep:
Long was thy sowing day, rest now and reap:
Thy fast was long, feast now thy spirit’s fill.
Yea, take thy fill of love, because thy will
Chose love not in the shallows but the deep:
Thy tides were springtides, set against the neap
Of calmer souls: thy flood rebuked their rill.
Now night has come to thee — please God, of rest:
So some time must it come to every man;
To first and last, where many last are first.
Now fixed and finished thine eternal plan,
Thy best has done its best, thy worst its worst:
Thy best its best, please God, thy best its best.
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: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
One from an unjustly neglected poet from Millom, Cumbria, who was frequently pre-occupied with landscape and people and the places where they meet (for ill as well as good: he wrote a very powerful one about the Windscale fire).

The wall walks the fell - Grey millipede on slow Stone hooves;  )
tree_and_leaf: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in uniform glengarry bonnet, Jamie in kilt, caption "Wha's like us?" (Scots Soldiers (Icon of patriotic prejud)

It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet,
when larks rose on long thin strings of singing
and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.
Greenness entered the body. The grasses
shivered with presences, and sunlight
stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.
Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat,
the woman from the fish-shop. ‘What a day it is!’
cried I, like a sunstruck madman.
And what did she have to say for it?
Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves
as she spoke with their ancient misery:
‘We’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it.’
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: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
I have seen flowers come in stony places,
And kind things done by men with ugly faces,
And the gold cup won by the worst horse at the races.
So I trust too.

John Masefield
tree_and_leaf: Spcok with one hand on chin, reflective expression (Bemused Spock)
Double post, since I missed yesterday, and a change of pace. These comic monologues always remind me of my gradfather, who used to recite them at family parties (along with the one about Noah and the carpenter who refuses to charge less than three ha'pence a foot for birds-eye maple - 'the only dry land were at Blackpool, and that were at top of the tower'), and quite a few phases from these have become family catch-phrases....

Albert and the Lion
And mother said, well, I am vexed )
Albert's Return

And Father said, Aye, it would be )
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
The Forgotten Dialect Of The Heart

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind's labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not laguage but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.

Jack Gilbert

(Tree and Leaf: "In Eckhart! It's all in Eckhart! I wonder what they do teach them in these schools?")
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 can't believe we haven't had any tennyson yet. Something Must Be Done. And we will have this, as I have just heard Bryn Terfyl singing it (which is pretty amazing...)

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
The fire-fly wakens: waken thou with me.

Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake:
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

In a fit of absent-mindedness, I googled "now drops the crimson", and got a whole lot of rather icky-looking gothic/ urban fantasy stories about vampires. The sort that thing vampires are a Good Thing, I mean. Dominic disapproves.

In other news, I managed to spend last night and much of today accidentally writing Narnia-fic, which has somehow ended up being about the Problem of Susan, which I never imagined I'd write on. It was supposed to be about Lucy, anyway. It is now stalled, as I have to write Aslan, and I'm not sure I can. Though this is a bit stupid, given that I've written Jesus.
tree_and_leaf: Spcok with one hand on chin, reflective expression (Bemused Spock)

STAND still, and I will read to thee
A lecture, Love, in Love's philosophy.
These three hours that we have spent,
Walking here, two shadows went
Along with us, which we ourselves produced.
But, now the sun is just above our head,
We do those shadows tread,
And to brave clearness all things are reduced.
So whilst our infant loves did grow,
Disguises did, and shadows, flow
From us and our cares ; but now 'tis not so.

That love hath not attain'd the highest degree,
Which is still diligent lest others see.

Except our loves at this noon stay,
We shall new shadows make the other way.
As the first were made to blind
Others, these which come behind
Will work upon ourselves, and blind our eyes.
If our loves faint, and westerwardly decline,
To me thou, falsely, thine
And I to thee mine actions shall disguise.
The morning shadows wear away,
But these grow longer all the day ;
But O ! love's day is short, if love decay.

Love is a growing, or full constant light,
And his short minute, after noon, is night.

John Donne. (I was going to post 'Air and Angels,' but then I remembered how much the last lines annoy me, so, despite the fineness of 'extreme and scattering bright', I won't).
tree_and_leaf: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in uniform glengarry bonnet, Jamie in kilt, caption "Wha's like us?" (Scots Soldiers (Icon of patriotic prejud)
[profile] parrot_knight's tweet about a local festival which, among other things, commemorates Jacobite doings in 1715, reminds me of a very short poem by Hugh McDiarmid. Who one would not have expected to be a natural friend of Jacobite imagery, but the poem is none the worse for that.

The rose of all the world is not for me:
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp, and sweet – and breaks the heart.

It is, incidentally, one of the fine assortment of quotations about Scotland or Scots opinions on the nature of politics, all bar one by Scots† carved on the Canongate Wall, part of our mildly eccentric Parliament building (about which opinions have differed, but I rather like it).

† The exception being Fr. Hopkins, who gets in on the strength of "Inversnaid" - as well he might.
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: Head shot of a weasel in evening light. (Our Lady of the Weasels)
I must admit that I was surprised to find Chesterton had written rather erotic love poetry, but it's exactly what I would have I expected, had I been expecting it. Though I can't help feeling that the lyrical-I is giving himself a hell of a lot to live up to... (to the point that I wonder if it isn't actually intended as bridal mysticism, and the speaker Christ, but that's probably just the result of Too Much Mysticism).

The Strange Music.

Other loves may sink and settle, other loves may loose and slack,
But I wander like a minstrel with my harp upon his back,
Though my harp be on my bosom, though I finger and I fret,
Still, my hope is all before me: for I cannot play it yet.

In your strings is hid a music that no hand has e'er let fall,
In your soul is sealed a pleasure that you have not known at all;
Pleasure subtle as your spirit, strange and slender as your frame,
Fiercer than the pain that folds you, softer than your sorrow's name.

Not as mine, my soul's anointed, not as mine the rude and light
Easy mirth of many faces, swaggering pride of song and fight
Something stranger, something sweeter, something waiting you afar
Secret as your stricken senses, magic as your sorrows are.

But on this, God's harp supernal, stretched but to be struck once,
Hoary time is a beginner, life a bungler, death a dunce.
But I will not fear to match them - no, by God, I will not fear.
I will learn you, I will play you, and the stars stand still to hear.

GK Chesterton.
tree_and_leaf: HMS Surprise sailing away over calm sea, caption "Sail away" (Sail away)
I reread "Rewards and Fairies" yesterday, and [ profile] affabletoaster posted "Sea Fever", so the combination of Kipling + sea inspires me to post this. I loved this poem when I was a child (and still do); was plainly a morbid little thing - but I think it's the magnificent play of sound (: the sound of the oar-blades falling hollow )
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: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)

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