Monday, December 11, 2017

Paul Lake

Paul Lake is the winner of the 2012 Richard Wilbur Award (as selected by Dana Gioia) which resulted in Lake's third book of poems, The Republic of Virtue, being published by the University of Evansville Press. He has also published two "poetry chapter books" and two novels — the most recent of which is Cry Wolf: A Political Fable (2008).

He has recently retired from his Professorship at Arkansas Tech University. Paul Lake is the Poetry Editor of First Things, where the following poem first appeared.

Saving Jesus

"BrickHouse Security saves Jesus for 8th year in a row,
offers free GPS tracking of nativity scenes and holiday displays."


Somehow escaping
The sharp eye
Of angels, shepherds,
And magi,

Thieves snatch the infant
From the crèche
To spirit God off
In the flesh.

Clearly, it’s
The thieves’ intent
To massacre
The innocent

Like Herod
In the dark of night,
Forcing parents
To take flight.

To empty Christmas
Of the Christ
Would seem the purpose
Of the heist—

Unless the abject
And forlorn
Hijack the babe
To feel newborn

Themselves, and think
By robbing churches
They gain a love
They cannot purchase.

Unlike the soulless
Figurine
With planted chip,
The Nazarene

Restores the lost
Sans GPS,
And covers crime
With holiness.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, December 4, 2017

James McAuley*

James McAuley (1917—1976) is an Australian poet who was conservative both in his politics and in his literary taste. He was involved in Cold War politics as an anti-communist in the Australian branch of the Congress for Cultural Freedom. His 1959 essay collection, The End of Modernity: Essays on Literature, Art and Culture, advanced his credentials as a conservative thinker.

From his position as editor of the literary journal Quadrant, and as Chair of English at the University of Tasmania, he published his influential book-length study of Australian poetry, The Personal Element in Australian Poetry (1970). McAuley's poetry collections include: Under Aldebaran (1946), A Vision of Ceremony (1956), The Six Days of Creation (1963), his epic poem Captain Quiros (1964), and Surprises of the Sun (1969). His Collected Poems appeared in 1971.

Nativity

The thin distraction of a spider’s web
collects the clear cold drops of night.
Seeds falling on the water spread
a rippling target for the light.

The rumour in the ear now murmurs less,
the snail draws in its tender horn,
the heart becomes a bare attentiveness,
and in that bareness light is born.

Jesus

Touching Ezekiel his workman's hand
Kindled the thick and thorny characters;
And Seraphim that seemed a thousand eyes,
Flying leopards, wheels and basilisks,
Creatures of power and of judgment, soared
From his finger point, emblazoning the skies.

Then turning from the book he rose and walked
Among the stones and beasts and flowers of earth;
They turned their muted faces to their Lord,
Their real faces, seen by God alone;
And people moved before him undisguised;
He thrust his speech among them like a sword.

And when a dove came to his hand he knew
That hell was opening behind its wings.
He thanked the messenger and let it go;
Spoke to the dust, the fishes and the twelve
As if they understood him equally,
And told them nothing that they wished to know.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about James McAuley: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Joseph Addison

Joseph Addison (1672—1719) is an English essayist, poet and dramatist. His greatest contribution may have been his development of the periodical essay through his journal The Spectator. Samuel Johnson’s praise for the prose style of The Spectator established Addison’s influence.

Early on, he used his poetry to advance his political ambitions, praising in verse the influential men he identified with. By 1708, as a Whig candidate, he was elected to parliament, and served as Irish secretary until 1710.

Richard Steele, his friend since youth, had established the influential journal The Tattler in 1709 — to which Addison contributed many of the essays. For a short time Addison was also friends with Jonathan Swift, but political differences soon separated them. In 1711, Addison and Steele started The Spectator, which appeared six days a week. It featured Addison’s influential literary criticism, and weekly papers on John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

As a playwright his tragedy Cato (1713) was a particular success, enjoying an extended run at Drury Lane. His comedy The Drummer also appeared at Drury Lane in 1716.

Addison was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Ode

The Spacious Firmament on High,
With all the blue Ethereal Sky,
And spangled Heavens, a Shining Frame,
Their great Original proclaim:
The unwearied Sun from Day to Day,
Does his Creator's Power display,
And publishes to every Land
The Work of an Almighty Hand.

Soon as the Evening Shades prevail,
The Moon takes up the wondrous Tale,
And nightly to the listening Earth,
Repeats the Story of her Birth:
Whilst all the Stars that round her burn,
And all the Planets in their turn,
Confirm the Tidings as they roll,
And spread the Truth from Pole to Pole.

What though in solemn Silence, all
Move round the dark terrestrial Ball?
What though, nor real Voice nor Sound
Amid their radiant Orbs be found?
In Reason's Ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious Voice,
For ever singing as they shine,
“The Hand that made us is Divine.”

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Angeline Schellenberg

Angeline Schellenberg is a poet and journalist living in Winnipeg. Her first full-length book, Tell Them It Was Mozart — linked poems about raising children on the autism spectrum — was published by Brick Books in the fall of 2016. It won the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry, the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book, and the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. She works as a copy editor for the Mennonite Brethren Herald, and has had poems appear in Arc, Prairie Fire, CV2, and The New Quarterly. Her poetry chapbook Roads of Stone was published by the Alfred Gustav Press in 2015.

She is one of the poets who contributed a poem about Isaiah 55 for my blog The 55 Project, and has three poems included in my forthcoming anthology Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse (2017, Cascade).

The following poem is from Tell Them It Was Mozart.

Confession

I don't pray much
my words too blunt to pierce a divine ear
my thoughts too heavy to fly
in the face of gravity
I don't pray much
------unless you count the reaching
and resigning of my breast
seventeen thousand times a day
the testing
and trusting under my feet
in every forward, backward
place
------the way my eyelids close
to the mess I cannot clear
I make chaos disappear
and in the morning dare to rise
----------------------------again

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thomas Merton*

Thomas Merton (1915—1968) is the author of more than seventy books, including his best-selling autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain (1948). His first poetry collection Thirty Poems (New Directions) appeared in 1944, followed by A Man in the Divided Sea (1946).

Merton had long been interested in Eastern religions — not for their doctrines, but for what they said about human experience. He was absolutely committed to Christianity, but felt that people of other faiths would also be committed to their own. He was influential through his promotion of inter-faith dialogue, and as a pacifist during the time of the race riots and anti-war protests of the 1960s.

He died while attending an inter-faith conference in Bangkok, Thailand — having been electrocuted in an accident with an electric fan after stepping from the bath. He is buried in Kentucky at the Trappist Monastery, Gethsemani Abbey.

For My Brother — Missing In Action 1943

Sweet brother, if I do not sleep
My eyes are flowers for your tomb;
And if I cannot eat my bread,
My fasts shall live like willows where you died.
If in the heat I find no water for my thirst,
My thirst shall turn to springs for you, poor traveller.

Where, in what desolate and smokey country,
Lies your poor body, lost and dead?
And in what landscape of disaster
Has your unhappy spirit lost its road?

Come, in my labor find a resting place
And in my sorrows lay your head,
Or rather take my life and blood
And buy yourself a better bed

—Or take my breath and take my death
And buy yourself a better rest.

When all the men of war are shot
And flags have fallen into dust,
Your cross and mine shall tell men still
Christ died on each, for both of us.

For in the wreckage of your April Christ lies slain,
And Christ weeps in the ruins of my spring:
The money of Whose tears shall fall
Into your weak and friendless hand,
And buy you back to your own land:

The silence of Whose tears shall fall
Like bells upon your alien tomb.
Hear them and come: they call you home.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Thomas Merton: first post

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Francisco de Quevedo

Francisco de Quevedo (1580—1645) is considered to be the master satirist of Spain’s golden age. While still a student Quevedo’s writing caught the attention of Miguel de Cervantes. As gratifying as this was, his primary interest was to gain prominence through politics. For seven years Quevedo became dedicated to the service of the Duke de Osuna, who was conspiring to seize control of Venice. When Osuna’s plan failed, the Spanish government distanced itself from him, and by extension from Quevedo. Disillusioned with politics, Quevedo turned his attention to literature.

Quevedo developed a style of poetry called conceptismo, which began with a conceit — similar to his English contemporary John Donne — that would expand into an elaborate poem-length metaphor. Quevedo’s style features condensed simple language, as opposed to the ornate style of Luis de Góngora. Unfortunately, the rivalry between the two styles became a personal battle between the two men.

Francisco de Quevedo is known for the novel The Life Story of the Sharper, called Don Pablos — a precursor to the satirical novels of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The following was translated by Michael Smith

from On The Anvil – LVII

Adam in Eden, You in a garden;
He in all honour, You in your agony;
He sleeps and his company ill-watches;
You pray wide awake as yours slumbers.

His act was the first of disharmonies;
You composed our primordial day;
You drink the cup your Father sends;
He eats defiance and lives as dead.

The sweat of his brow is his sustenance;
That of yours is our glory:
The guilt was his, the affront yours.

He bequeathed horror; You leave us a memory;
His, a blind deceit; yours, a prime bargain.
How different the story you leave us!

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Martin Luther*

Martin Luther (1483—1546) is the figure most-closely identified with the Protestant Reformation. It was 500 years ago — on October 31, 1517 — that he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. It was not Luther’s intention to separate from the Catholic Church, but to draw to the attention of its leaders that some of its common teachings were contradicting what the Bible teaches.

In particular, the teaching that people could have the souls of their departed loved ones released from Purgatory through a donation to the Church, was false and undermined true faith. Luther realized that Scripture expresses, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (Romans 1:17)

A recent article from Christianity Today begins:
----"In the sixteenth century, the world was divided about Martin
----Luther. One Catholic thought Martin Luther was a "demon in
----the appearance of a man." Another who first questioned Luther's
----theology later declared, 'He alone is right!'

----"In our day, nearly 500 years hence, the verdict is nearly
----unanimous to the good. Both Catholics and Protestants affirm
----he was not only right about a great deal, but he changed the
----course of Western history for the better."

In other words, celebrating the anniversary of the Reformation is not to further division between Protestants and Catholics, but to remember Luther, and the other reformers, who have helped all of us in our desire to follow the truth.

Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord

Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord!
In your believers’ hearts be stored
The fullness of your grace and light;
Your burning love in them ignite.
O Lord, what has your radiance done!
Within the faith you’ve made as one
People and realms of ev’ry tongue!
For this, O Lord, your praises e’er be sung!
Alleluia! Alleluia!

O Holy Light, Shield Supreme!
The Word of life upon us beam
And teach us all the highest art—
To call God, “Father,” from the heart.
O Lord, keep us from falsehood free;
Let Jesus our sole master be,
That with a faith correct and right
We place our trust in him with all our might.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

O Holy Fire, Cheer so sweet!
Help us, with joy and cheer replete,
To serve you steadfast, come what may,
Nor by our trials be driven away.
O Lord, lend power for the fight,
Repress for us Old Adam’s fright,
That we as knights wage battle brave,
Press on to you in heaven through grief and grave.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Martin Luther: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.