tree_and_leaf: Francis Urquhart facing viewer, edge of face trimmed off, caption "I couldn't possibly comment" (couldn't possibly comment)
On the whole I think Thomas Hardy was a fine poet. But I am not convinced at all by "The Convergence of the Twain." You have to be prepared to deal with odd diction if you want to read Hardy, and I actually quite like the last line ("And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres."). It is faintly bathetic - but I think it's a bathos that works.

But the penultimate stanza reads:

Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one august event,

And I'm afraid I cannot but think of William McGonagall.
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
In A Country Church

To one kneeling down no word came,
only the wind’s song, saddening the lips
of the grave saints, rigid in glass;
Or the dry whisper of unseen wings,
bats not angels, in the high roof.
Was he balked by silence? He kneeled long,
and saw love in a dark crown
of thorns blazing and a winter tree
golden with fruit of a man’s body.

R.S. Thomas.
tree_and_leaf: Spire of St Pauls Lower Manhattan surrounded by taller buildings (church in the city)
(I've always loved this poem; it seems appropriate today).

One foot in Eden still, I stand
And look across the other land.
The world's great day is growing late,
Yet strange these fields that we have planted
So long with crops of love and hate.
Time's handiworks by time are haunted,
And nothing now can separate
The corn and tares compactly grown.
The armorial weed in stillness bound
About the stalk; these are our own.
Evil and good stand thick around
In fields of charity and sin
Where we shall lead our harvest in.

Yet still from Eden springs the root
As clean as on the starting day.
Time takes the foliage and the fruit
And burns the archetypal leaf
To shapes of terror and of grief
Scattered along the winter way.
But famished field and blackened tree
Bear flowers in Eden never known.
Blossoms of grief and charity
Bloom in these darkened fields alone.
What had Eden ever to say
Of hope and faith and pity and love
Until was buried all its day
And memory found its treasure trove?
Strange blessings never in Paradise
Fall from these beclouded skies.
tree_and_leaf: Cartoon of Pope Gregory and two slave children.  Caption flashes"Non Angli sed Angeli" and "Not angels but Anglicans." (Anglicans not angels)
I wish that the site I found it on had provided a bit more information on the source than "from 10th century Ireland" (like, who translated it and where), but I'm still rather taken with this poem:

I would like to have the men of Heaven
In my own house:
With vats of good cheer
laid out for them.

I would like to have the three Marys,
Their fame is so great.
I would like people
From every corner of Heaven.

I would like them to be cheerful
In their drinking.
I would like to have Jesus too
Here amongst them.

I would like a great lake of beer
For the King of Kings,
I would like to be watching Heaven’s family
Drinking it through all eternity.
tree_and_leaf: Anne Shirley sitting at desk, head in hands (head in hands)
You know you've been doing too much theology when your reaction to this poem (as posted by [profile] angevin2 as part of her excellent Advent calendar) is to think, oh God, why is the Western church so crap at teaching the theology of the Trinity?

I think I've been doing too much theology. And I'm only a term in....
tree_and_leaf: Photo of spire of Freiburg Minster (14th C broached gothic) silhouetted against sunset. (Schönste Turm)
In other news, I am feeling terribly bleary, as everyone in the flat has spontaneously developed a Cough of Doom, which meant a night of coughing echoing through the remarkably thin walls, and not much sleep. Oh well, it would have been a good deal less sleep had yesterday's news been different.

Now I must finish various bits of writing, before heading off to Evensong and then Cub Pack of Chaos, before the theology course.

Tomorrow, happily is my day off, and an expedition to Rochester (fast trains and a cathedral!†) is mooted.

Also, I have found a poem, by Robert A Heinlein (which I gather is probably well known by people who know more about previous generations of SF than I do), which seems to me to be heavily chaneling Kipling:

The Green Hills of Earth

Let the sweet fresh breezes heal me
As they rove around the girth
Of our lovely mother planet
Of the cool, green hills of Earth.

We rot in the moulds of Venus,
We retch at her tainted breath.
Foul are her flooded jungles,
Crawling with unclean death.

[ --- the harsh bright soil of Luna ---
--- Saturn's rainbow rings ---
--- the frozen night of Titan --- ]

We've tried each spinning space mote
And reckoned its true worth:
Take us back again to the homes of men
On the cool, green hills of Earth.

The arching sky is calling
Spacemen back to their trade.
And the lights below us fade.

Out ride the sons of Terra,
Far drives the thundering jet,
Up leaps a race of Earthmen,
Out, far, and onward yet ---

We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth;
Let us rest our eyes on fleecy skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.

† Stereotypical Anglican clerical - or embryonic clerical - interests are stereotypical.
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
Bishop Alan has a nice article on religious poetry. Clearly I need to read some Les Murray...
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: Harriet Vane writing, caption edit edit panic edit research edite WRITE. (writing)
Out frae the toun o’ Glesca,
The fecht lost o’ Langside,
Queen Mary rade to Solway,
A long an’ dulefule ride.

She bade farewell to Scotland, )
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
Word's gane to the kitchen,
And word’s gane to the ha,
That Marie Hamilton gangs wi bairn
To the hichest Stewart of a’.

He’s courted her in the kitchen, )
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)
I thought about posting this on numerous occasions during the national poetry month, and didn't. However, UA Fanthorpe died today, and so I post this in memoriam. May she rest in peace and rise in glory. I heard her read, once.

U.A. Fanthorpe (*1929, †2009)


This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.

This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.

And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.
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)

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