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.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Richard Osler

Richard Osler lives on Vancouver Island, where he facilitates weekly poetry workshops at Cedars — an addiction recovery centre. He also leads poetry writing retreats, and poetry as prayer retreats — primarily in western Canada, but recently completed a ten-day retreat in Italy. He has published several chapbooks, including Where the Water Lives (2012, Leaf Press). His first full-length poetry collection Hyaena Season was published by Quattro Books in 2016.

Before being drawn to poetry, Richard worked as a business journalist for the Financial Post. For nine years, he was a business columnist for the CBC Radio program Morningside with Peter Gzowski. Some of his nonfiction work appears in a volume of Gzowski’s Morningside Papers.

Some of Richard’s most important influences include novelist Sir Laurens van der Post — poets David Whyte, and Patrick Lane — and poetry therapist John Fox. Richard Osler is one of the poets included in my soon-to-be-released anthology Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse (2017, Cascade).

What I Want

The copper lake, blue-green,
where the cinnamon bear lopes up the scree
stopping once to look back before its final bound
into the trees. I want the trees and what they say
back to wind, to rain and thunder. I want thunder
and lightning’s crooked light. And I want the morning,
sloe-eyed, and night stuffed back inside its purse.
I want the boat, the storm and the man in the stern
who calms it; the water before it turns to wine.
I want the late-day light, the way it streams
across the bridge suspended over the narrows
and the look of the sun-struck woman crossing over.
I want her brown eyes looking into her lover’s blue.
I want to say to Galway Kinnell what is is not enough
when what is is war or famine, the bruised child
or the wife in pajamas, after breakfast, who tells
her husband of more than twenty years:
his love
----------is not
---------------------enough.

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, October 16, 2017

R.C. Trench

R.C. Trench (1807—1886) is a former Archbishop, a philologist and a poet. He was born in Dublin, and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge. His first collection The Story of Justin Martyr and Other Poems was favourably received in 1835. This and his other early collections demonstrated the influence of Wordsworth upon his writing. His 1851 book The Study of Words established his reputation as a philologist. He was also influential in the eventual development of the Oxford English Dictionary.

In 1856 Trench became the Dean of Westminster Abbey, and in 1864 the Archbishop of Dublin. His grave is in the central nave of Westminster Abbey where a plaque in Latin declares:
----"In memory of Richard Chenevix Trench, Dean of this church for
----7 years, Archbishop of Dublin for 21 years, who, captivated by
----the love of eternal truth in Christ, sang of its most holy
----beauty in his poetry and illuminated it in his expositions, and,
----in times of joy, in times of trouble, living and dying, he
----devoted himself to it with a singular and unimpaired
----faithfulness. His family erected this monument in thankfulness
----to God. He died in the year of salvation 1886, aged 78".

Sonnet 3

Spent in Thy presence will prevail to make —
What heavy burdens from our bosoms take,
What parchèd grounds refresh, as with a shower!
We kneel, and all around us seems to lower;
We rise, and all, the distant and the near,
Stands forth in sunny outline, brave and clear;
We kneel how weak, we rise how full of power!
Why, therefore, should we do ourselves this wrong,
Or others — that we are not always strong;
That we are ever overborne with care;
That we should ever weak or heartless be,
Anxious or troubled, when with us is prayer,
And joy, and strength, and courage, are with Thee?

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 9, 2017

John Poch

John Poch is the author of four poetry collections, the newest of which, Fix Quiet (2015, St. Augustine’s Press), won the 2014 New Criterion Poetry Prize.

My first connection with his poetry was through the CD collection Poetry on Record which brings together recordings of 98 different poets reading their own work — including such early voices as Tennyson, Whitman, Yeats and Frost — and contemporary poets such as Li-Young Lee and Carolyn Forché. Poch’s recording, from 2004, has him reading his poem “Simon Peter” which originally appeared in the magazine, America.

He is the founding editor of the journal 32 Poems, and teaches at Texas Tech University. The following poem first appeared in Blackbird.

John's Christ

The auctioneer commits his little gaffe
when his helpers lift the latch-hook tapestry
of Leonardo’s Christian masterpiece:
The Large Supper. The waiting bidders laugh.

And though the latest spiritual fad has raptured
a populace of novel novel-lovers,
DaVinci’s purpose is better left to others.
But here at our local auction I am captured,

wanting to lean, like John, away from the master,
get some perspective on His hands, the gist
of one opening, one closing, not a fist,
His arms apart, beholding, Jesus’ gesture—

over his empty plate and the rag-tag cast—
preparing for the word, large, or last.

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, October 2, 2017

Fanny J. Crosby

Fanny J. Crosby (1820—1915) is most famous as a writer of gospel songs, having written songs that appear in virtually every church hymnal up to the present day. She wrote more than 9,000 hymns and gospel songs, besides the secular songs she wrote and the four collections of poetry she had published.

When she was six weeks old she caught a cold. While their family doctor was away, her illness was treated by a man pretending to be a doctor who prescribed hot mustard poultices to be placed on her eyes. This treatment left her blind, and caused the imposter to quickly leave town.

Her hymns were of great significance in the evangelistic campaigns of Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey. Some of her most popular songs include: "Blessed Assurance", "All the Way My Savior Leads Me", "To God Be the Glory", "Rescue the Perishing", and "Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross."

The following poem is from her poetry collection The Blind Girl, and Other Poems (1844). Crosby included an epigraph with the poem, explaining that she visited the Falls in September of 1843 with her blind companions from the New York Institution for the Blind.

Niagara

Awake, my muse! thy wings expand!
----Oh, what sublimity is here!
Niagara's mighty thunders burst
----With awful grandeur on mine ear.
Niagara! on thy brink I stand,
----And taste unutterable bliss;
What pen, what language can portray
----A scene so wonderful as this?
Father Divine!— we lift our hearts
----In humble gratitude to thee—
Who spreads the azure vault above,
----Whose hand controls the boisterous sea!
Thou bades the foaming cataract roll!
----Thou forms the rainbow tints we see!
We gaze— we wonder and admire—
----Niagara!— we are lost in thee.

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, September 25, 2017

François Villon

François Villon (1431—1463) is a French poet — the best known of the middle ages — who was also a thief, a brawler, and a murderer. His most famous work is The Testament (1461) which he wrote while imprisoned for some unknown crime. He was familiar enough with Christian concepts to write the following (rather tongue-in-cheek) lines about the Bishop whose prison he was in,

-------But since the Church says we should pray
-------For those who hate us, I am leaving
-------To Him who said, "I shall repay,"
-------The last, eternal reckoning.
It is true that Villon often expresses regrets for his wasted life, and repents of his sins, but his repentance doesn't appear to bring any change in his behaviour.

Was he ever able to embrace Christian discipline, to truly turn and follow God? His circumstances at the time of the following poem suggests, he hadn't yet, but perhaps this was that moment. I pray to the God who exists outside of time that Villon may have truly found salvation.

His work has been translated by many, including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Richard Wilbur, although the translator of the following poem is unknown. "Ballad of the Gibbet" is an epitaph for himself and those with him, who expected they were about to be hanged. It is believed to have been written in late 1462, when Villon was in the Châtelet prison under sentence of death.

Ballad of the Gibbet


Brothers and men that shall after us be,
Let not your hearts be hard to us:
For pitying this our misery
Ye shall find God the more piteous.
Look on us six that are hanging thus,
And for the flesh that so much we cherished
How it is eaten of birds and perished,
And ashes and dust fill our bones' place,
Mock not at us that so feeble be,
But pray God pardon us out of His grace.

Listen, we pray you, and look not in scorn,
Though justly, in sooth, we are cast to die;
Ye wot no man so wise is born
That keeps his wisdom constantly.
Be ye then merciful, and cry
To Mary's Son that is piteous,
That His mercy take no stain from us,
Saving us out of the fiery place.
We are but dead, let no soul deny
To pray God succour us of His grace.

The rain out of heaven has washed us clean,
The sun has scorched us black and bare,
Ravens and rooks have pecked at our eyne,
And feathered their nests with our beards and hair.
Round are we tossed, and here and there,
This way and that, at the wild wind's will,
Never a moment my body is still;
Birds they are busy about my face.
Live not as we, nor fare as we fare;
Pray God pardon us out of His grace.

L'Envoy

Prince Jesus, Master of all, to thee
We pray Hell gain no mastery,
That we come never anear that place;
And ye men, make no mockery,
Pray God pardon us out of His grace.

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, September 18, 2017

Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg

Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (1633—1694) is an Austrian poet who is now regaining recognition for her legacy. She published collections of poetry in 1672, 1675, and 1678. As Protestants in Catholic Austria, her family experienced persecution under the Habsburg dynasty. Even so, as she gained popularity as a poet, she was bold enough to attempt to persuade Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, to adopt her Lutheran views.

Burl Horniachek, who recommended I should post about Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg, mentioned that Canadian poets Joanne Epp, Sally Ito, and Sarah Klassen have been working on new translations of her poetry. I look forward to learning more about this as the work unfolds.

The following is from Meditations on the Incarnation, Passion, and Death of Jesus Christ translated by Lynne Tatlock. The image the poem refers to is reproduced below.

Explanation of the Frontispiece

Blot out the entire world. The tablet of my thoughts
be wiped clean. Let nothing remain but Jesus Christ.
I will stand for nothing else. There shall be no thing
within remembrance's bounds but Him who is all.
Lust for knowledge may inspire many lovely things;
Jesus alone restores me, more than can vast knowledge.
However the world may lust for money, art, wisdom,
I want and know nothing but the strength of His cross.
May gall and vinegar's sponge blot out all vanity.
Let the crucified one alone stay in my mind.
How far Totality, when alone can outspread
and change everything we clearly see herein
I want this sum of all things alone in my mind.


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, September 11, 2017

Anya Krugovoy Silver*

Anya Krugovoy Silver is a prolific poet who teaches at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. She was named the Georgia Author of the Year/Poetry for 2015. Her two most-recent books are From Nothing (2016) — which like her first two collections is published by Louisiana State University Press — and the recently released Second Bloom, which I assisted with as editor for the Poiema Poetry Series (2017, Cascade Books).

She is also one of the poets featured in my anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry(available here) and through Amazon. Second Bloom is also available on either site.

The following poem is from Second Bloom, and first appeared in Saint Katherine Review.

Holy Saturday, 1945

It was for you, Maria Skobsova,
that Mozart wrote his Requiem.
Bolshevik nun, instead of celebrating
the funeral of Christ, you walked
into the gas chamber at Ravensbrück
in place of another woman.
Instead of trailing the coffin
around the church, you claimed
a place in the line entering hell.
It was for you, Maria Skobsova,
that Mozart fainted in the writing
of his mass, Let them, Lord, pass.
All work remains unfinished:
the composer’s delirious lines,
the forging of baptismal certificates
in your Parisian convent, the censing
of the church on Holy Saturday.
Instead of incense, fumes of Zyclon B
haloed the shorn heads of the dying.
No beaded shrouds for Mozart’s
common grave, for your grey smoke.
Give thanks to the Lord, we sing.
for he is good: for his mercy endures forever.


Posted with permission of the poet.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Anya Krugovoy Silver: 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, September 4, 2017

Robert Siegel*

Robert Siegel (1939—2012) is one of the first poets whose work appeared as part of the Poiema Poetry Series. His collection Within This Tree of Bones (2013, Cascade Books) is his final book, his final selected collection, and the only book where the poems he was writing as he was nearing death appear. I am glad that, even though I did not know that he was battling cancer at the time, I encouraged him to add several more new poems to the collection than he had originally planned. I want to post again about Bob and his fine poetry, because his incredible talent and the beautiful legacy of Within This Tree of Bones has not received the attention it deserves; at least not yet.

This blog post is one small way I am seeking to encourage others to read Robert Siegel. Another is that I have included half a dozen of his poems in the anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poets(available here) and through Amazon.

As John Wilson, who was editor for Books & Culture, has eloquently said: "Robert Siegel is one of my favorite poets, and I'm frustrated that so many readers are unfamiliar with him. This handsome 'new and selected' volume is an ideal introduction to his work, and I may just resort to hawking it on street corners, like those ragamuffin kids peddling papers in old movies. You want the latest news? Read Within This Tree of Bones."

The Prodigal

She floated before him like a summer cloud,
pink and white through his sweat and then lay down
squealing, by her sucklings, a teat for each mouth.
The husks caught in his throat. If he'd only known
the pigs would have it better than he, he never...
He, ripe offal, stuck in the world's latrine!
—so he told himself over and over and over
and over again. With tears came a keen

ache in his chest. Next day he started home.
He tried to stop his thoughts, lethally busy,
but at night yearned for the slops and warmth of the barn,
the hogs' contented grunting and homely stink. Alone,
he knew he'd failed beyond all hope of mercy.
He didn't even see his father till wrapped in his arms.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Robert Siegel: first post, second 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, August 28, 2017

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836—1870) is a significant Spanish poet, playwright, and short story writer. Although he found success, it wasn't until after his death that much of his work was published. He is considered the main writer of the post-romanticism movement, which dominated Spanish poetry in the latter part of the 19th century.

His father, who died when he was five-years-old, was a well-respected painter in Seville. His brother Valeriano also became a painter.

In 1857, Bécquer began an ambitious project about Spanish Christian art, combining religious ideals, architecture, and history — the first volume of which was published as Historia de los Templos de España. In that same year he was infected with tuberculosis, which worsened in 1870, leading to his death.

In Spanish-speaking countries he is often required reading at high schools; his influence is evident in many 20th century writers.

To All The Saints

Patriarchs, you who were the seed
of the tree of faith in distant centuries,
to the divine conqueror of death
pray for us.

Prophets, you who, inspired, tore away
the mysterious veil of the future,
to him who drew light from the darkness
pray for us.

Guiltless souls, Innocent Saints,
you who increased the choir of the angels,
to him who called the children to his side
pray for us.

Apostles, you who cast into the world
of the Church its powerful cement,
to him who is the depository of truth
pray for us.

Martyrs, you who won your palms
in the sand of the arena, in red blood,
to him who gave you strength in your struggles
pray for us.

Virgins like lilies,
you whom summer dressed in snow and gold,
to him who is the source of light and beauty
pray for us.

Monks, you who sought from life's struggle
peace in the silent cloister,
to him who is the rainbow of calm in storms
pray for us.

Doctors whose pens bequeathed us
the rich treasure of virtue and wisdom
to him who is the plenitude of inexhaustible knowledge
pray for us.

Soldiers of Christ's army,
all Saints male and female,
pray to him to forgive our faults,
Him who lives and reigns among you.

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, August 21, 2017

Julia A. Carney

Julia A. Carney (1823—1908) is a poet and educator who was born in Massachusetts. Much of her poetry was published under various pseudonyms, credited to others or appeared anonymously. She married the Reverend Thomas J. Carney in 1849; they had nine children, four of which died in infancy.
Carl Sandburg grew up directly across the street from the Carney family. He said in Always The Young Strangers, "Often we saw on that porch rocking in a chair a little old woman, her hair snow-white with the years. She had a past, a rather bright though not dazzling past, you might say. She could lay claim to fame, if she chose. Millions of children reading the McGuffey and other school readers had met her name and memorized lines she had written."
Her most famous poem which she wrote in 1845 appears below.

Little Things

Little drops of water,
-------Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
-------And the pleasant land.
Little deeds of kindness,
-------Little words of love,
Make our earth an Eden,
-------Like the heaven above.

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, August 14, 2017

John Milbank

John Milbank is Director of the Centre of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. Last summer he retired from his position as Nottingham's Research Professor of Religion, Ethics, and Politics. He has also taught at the universities of Virginia, Cambridge and Lancaster. As a student he studied under Rowan Williams.

Of his three poetry collections, The Dances of Albion (2015, Shrearsman Books) is most recent. As a poet he is more focused on British mythology and fairy tales than theology.

He is, however, better known as a theologian — particularly for founding the "Radical Orthodoxy" movement — and is the author of several influential books including, Theology and Social Theory, and The Suspended Middle. He is sceptical of secular reason, and critical of liberalism.

Considering Lilies

Looking for rain,
celestial water
above all ponds,
the weed-lilies of convulvulus
in September foregather in the hedgerows
like white bells for a late marriage
of a still beautiful virgin,
their pure glamour disparaged,
as gypsy-women are the tares of queendom,
more savagely still in their darkness
and more blowingly resplendent
through its untamed virtue.

Returning on the train in hope
after many years
of a better consummation, he
recalled the school bell’s autumn sound
which once confirmed yet interrupted
his childhood rural pasturage.
It had reached attractively and insidiously
across all fields and past them,
suspending forever nature’s mute
untimetabled instruction.
So we probe the stars with signals,
travel anywhere in lines and pay
in numbers if we get them right
for anything available.

While nature lost still stays our course,
like a vast golden shadow of background,
ever forgotten, ever present
to accuse us of a wholly inadequate answer
to her perennial welcome.
Why do the skies alter, the seas surge and yet
the earth stays firm on which we are planted
in order to till, walk ever onwards,
look upwards that we might re-consider always?
Shifting the soils like a horde of phantoms
has got us nowhere.
Gridding the earth with waves and networks
has communicated to us nothing.

The road bends: he longs to linger
by the gate’s opening perchance
to greet her. Lone winds leave
the fascinating clouds from which
the dark birds also swarm. The willowherb
grows in this season more freely than the grasses.

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, August 7, 2017

Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas (1225—1274) is an Italian philosopher, theologian and priest. His theological masterpiece Summa Theologica, written between 1265 and 1273, was intended to be the sum of all known learning as understood through the philosophy of Aristotle.

In 1256 he began teaching theology at the University of Paris, and then in 1265 he was summoned to Rome to serve as the papal theologian.

In his day, he was the leading proponent of natural theology. He took a poetic approach to his thought, seeking the meaning of the whole visible universe, writing down what he observed, and considering its relationships. In the area of poetry he is best known for his five Eucharistic Hymns.

Thee We Adore, O Hidden Savior

Thee we adore, O hidden Savior, Thee,
Who in Thy sacrament dost deign to be;
Both flesh and spirit at Thy presence fail,
Yet here Thy presence we devoutly hail.

O blessed memorial of our dying Lord,
Who living Bread to men doth here afford!
O may our souls forever feed on Thee,
And Thou, O Christ, forever precious be.

Fountain of gladness, Jesu, Lord and God,
Cleanse us, unclean, with Thy most cleansing blood;
Increase our faith and love, that we may know
The hope and peace which from Thy presence flow.

O Christ, Whom now beneath a veil we see,
May what we thirst for soon our portion be,
To gaze on Thee unveiled, and see Thy face,
The vision of Thy glory and Thy grace.

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, July 31, 2017

Vittoria Colonna

Vittoria Colonna (1492—1547) the marchioness of Pescara, is the most successful and renowned female Italian writer of her day. At age 19 she married Fernando Francesco d'Ávalos — who within two years was off to fight the French. The couple rarely saw each other, for he was often engaged as a military captain under Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. When he died in 1525, as a result of battle wounds, she immediately tried to join a convent. She dedicated herself to writing poetry, including a series of poems in his memory.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, inspired by the ideal of her grief, wrote a poem which includes the lines:
-------She knew the life-long martyrdom,
---------The weariness, the endless pain
-------Of waiting for some one to come
---------Who nevermore would come again.

She became close friends with Michelangelo in 1536. He made drawings of her, addressed sonnets to her, and they spent a lot of time together. In return, she presented him with a gift manuscript of spiritual poetry.

Colonna was an advocate of religious reform, as demonstrated within her poetry and in the prose meditations she published. Some believe that her popularity began to wane as both she and Michelangelo started expressing the Protestant-flavoured theology of grace.

Although more formal translations exist, I have included Jan Zwicky's more contemporary free translation of the following poem.

from Sonnets for Michelangelo — 31

If this little music, stirring the frail air,
can gather up the spirit,
open it and melt it as it does —
If this mere breeze of sound, this mortal voice,
can lift the heart so,
heal it, startling thought and firing our resolve —
what will that heart do when,
before God in the first and ancient heaven,
it hears the music of all being?
When, struck by truth, it steps forth
in the great wind of that singing?

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, July 24, 2017

Madeline DeFrees*

Madeline DeFrees (1919—2015) is the author of eight full-length poetry collections. In 1937 she entered the order of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and took on the name of Sister Mary Gilbert. It was under this name that she published her early poetry, including her first collection, From the Darkroom (1964). Her greatest influences have perhaps been Hopkins, and Dickinson.

She is one of the poets featured in my anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry(available here) and through Amazon.

When asked — in a 2009 Image interview with Jennifer Maier — about the pressure within the convent to avoid individuality, as she was developing as a poet, she said:
----"There was a lot of internal pressure away from poetry. I knew
----Hopkins had given it up because he thought it would interfere
----with prayer...I used to think that because poetry required a
----kind of total attention, and so did prayer, that they went
----together. I had superiors, at least one, who told me that I
----wasn’t anything special just because I was a poet. I knew I
----wasn’t supposed to be writing poems when I was supposed to be
----praying. But they really are very close."

DeFrees was released from her vows in 1973. She explained why her poems would rarely be seen as being particularly Christian:
----"I used to think that the reason I didn’t write religious poems
----was that I really respected religion, and there was nothing worse
----than a poem that wanted to be religious and fell short of the
----mark. The main shortcoming would be sentimentality."

The following poem is from her collection Blue Dusk: New & Selected Poems (2001, Copper Canyon).

Balancing Acts

At 47, Hope's driven to find her feet in construction.
She crawls the hip roof of her house like a cat burglar,
gives herself plenty of rope, lashed to
the chimney. In her left hand, she carries a loaded
staple gun. Her right grips the insubstantial.

Cordless phone in my lap, I watch at 74, from my rented
wheelchair, fingers tattooing 9-1-1.
Let me hop with the help of the Sunrise Medical Guardian
to the open door to rehearse
our common fate. We are Siamese joined by a bungee

cord at the inner ear, that delicate point of balance.
Every day we devise new methods
of locomotion. When my walker, upset by a comforter,
collapses to the floor and takes me
with it, I want to reverse the digits:

four and seven, seven and four. Yesterday, Hope wrestled
the circular saw over the edge
where she clung to the ridge and tripped on the safety
cord. It was then I heard the Sirens
wooing Ulysses tied to the mast. Twilight hangs fire

in the west, then snuffs it out. Behind the slant roof
of a dormer, Hope disappears. Two ladders
reach into the void. Is that white flash a sneakered
foot in search of a rung? I conjure a cloudy head
between the smokestack and the evergreen.

No matter how I strain, I cannot bring her back.
Reluctantly I fiddle with the blind,
hear a tune old as the burning of Rome as I weave
between the cave and the whirlpool for a saving
equilibrium. What if I call her Faith,
the evidence of things unseen?

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Madeline DeFrees: 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, July 17, 2017

Dulce María Loynaz

Dulce María Loynaz (1902—1997) is a Cuban poet and novelist, who published her first poetry collection in 1938. After the Cuban Revolution (1959) she refused to join the communist party. Even though the Castro government had her books removed from libraries and ensured that she was not published, she did not go into exile, but lived quietly in Havana. In 1992 when she received Spain's greatest literary honour — The Cervantes Prize — her work was once again permitted publication in Cuba.

The following poem was translated by James O'Connor.

Poems With No Names — XCVII

----Lord, it is You who gave me these eyes. Where should
I turn them during this long dark night that will last
longer than my own eyes?
----King to whom I swore my first vow, it is You who
gave me these hands. What should I take and what should
I leave behind on this pilgrimage that makes no sense to
any of my senses, this pilgrimage where I never have
enough or I have much more than I need?
----Sweetness in the bitter-sweetness of my heart, it is You
who gave me this desert voice. What word is worthy of
scaling the high peak of your silence?
----Breath in the clay of my flesh, it is You who gave me
these feet. Tell me. Why did you put so many forks in the
road if You are the Way, the Truth and the Life?

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, July 10, 2017

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (1821—1873) is an American poet who only published one book of poems in his lifetime: Poems (1860). His work was ignored by most of his contemporaries, although he received encouragement from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Alfred Tennyson, whom he had visited in his home on the Isle of Wight in 1855.

He completed a law degree from Harvard, but scarcely practiced. In the mid-1840s when he met and fell deeply in love with Hannah Jones, he began writing poems — primarily sonnets. They married in 1847. When she died shortly after the birth of their third child in 1857, Tuckerman was completely grief-stricken. It is out of this tragedy that much of his best poetry comes.

Although he was significantly influenced by the English romantic poets and the American romantics of his time, his rational, Anglican background, combined with the death of his dear wife, caused Tuckerman to become somewhat anti-romantic in his rejection of the pantheistic optimism of many of his contemporaries.

Jason Guriel wrote in The New Criterion, that Tuckerman "wrote poems too weird to be much appreciated in his own milieu, the United States of the nineteenth century, and not weird enough to distinguish the poet for many of his later readers who, failing to squint, saw little more than an accomplished sonneteer."

Sonnet XXVIII

Not the round natural world, not the deep mind,
The reconcilement holds: the blue abyss
Collects it not; our arrows sink amiss
And but in Him may we our import find.
The agony to know, the grief, the bliss
Of toil, is vain and vain: clots of the sod
Gathered in heat and haste and flung behind
To blind ourselves and others, what but this
Still grasping dust and sowing toward the wind?
No more thy meaning seek, thine anguish plead,
But leaving straining thought and stammering word,
Across the barren azure pass to God:
Shooting the void in silence like a bird,
A bird that shuts his wings for better speed.

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, July 3, 2017

Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600—1681) is a Spanish poet and dramatist of what is called the golden age of Spanish literature. Life is a Dream (1629—35) is one of his best known secular plays, and The Great Theatre of the World (c. 1635) one of his best known religious plays. King Philip IV was his patron, providing a pension for him, and funding the extravagant productions of his plays. He is also associated with the rise of opera in Spain. In 1651 Calderón was ordained to the priesthood, and in 1663 was appointed honorary chaplain to the king. He successfully found a dramatic form that well expressed Christian doctrine.

The following poem was translated by R.C. Trench.

The Cross

Tree which heaven has willed to dower
With that true fruit whence we live,
As that other death did give;
Of new Eden loveliest flower;
Bow of light, that in worst hour
Of the worst flood signal true
O'er the world, of mercy threw;
Fair plant, yielding sweetest wine;
Of our David harp divine;
Or our Moses tables new;
Sinner am I, therefore I
Claim upon thy mercies make;
Since alone for sinners' sake
God on thee endured to die.

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, June 26, 2017

G.C. Waldrep

G.C. Waldrep was born in Virginia, and is Associate Professor of English at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. He directs the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets. He has five collections of poetry, from Goldbeater's Skin (2003) which was selected by Donald Revell for the Colorado Prize for Poetry, to Testament (2015) which consists of a single, long poem. He is the editor of West Branch, and is Editor-at-large for the Kenyon Review.

He is a member of the Old Order River Brethren, a conservative group who developed along the Susquehanna River, having branched away from the Mennonites. The following poem is from his first poetry collection.

Palinode: Cotton Mather

Praying Always. But in the literal sense?
In the bath? Under the dull breath
of any given second, like his particular faiths?
—Exemplary mutterer, moving through days
with his great mind always fluttering
in the dark cave of his mouth, his manic concern.
He meant well, we might say, and late in life
gave up the constant patter, the need
to bring the world into being, moment by moment,
himself. Watching thereunto with all perseverance
and supplication for all saints
. Fair enough:
he persevered, maintained the mission of his public id,
and his supplications, if unheeded, were at least
archived in the libraries of New England.
When I lived in Boston I liked to walk
down past the Common to where the cherries bloomed
in their plots of grass and scored slate,
product of a more decorous generation
though perhaps less prescient: all that careful
horticulture, prayers of hope and terror trembling
on the lips of the women as they left the tomb.
They mistook Christ for the gardener.
As for Mather, his ashes have long been reabsorbed
into the city he helped fix upon said hill.
What he would have wanted? Probably not:
a hard man, though supple in his genuflection
to the order nature brings; this would have been
his Sodom. Now with spring in the air
I lean once more against the oak bench and bargain
what's left of my own heart for mercy on the tongue,
that darkling zeal, those exclamations.

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, June 19, 2017

Elizabeth Jennings*

Elizabeth Jennings (1926—2001) is an Oxford poet, often associated with "The Movement" but always independent in her poetry. She was influenced by Herbert and Hopkins, remaining consistent in her tone without becoming repetitious.

Hester Jones wrote in The Church Times, "Like [her contemporary, Sylvia] Plath, Jennings suffered from mental illness in her adult life, but, as a Roman Catholic, she drew on the tradition of the 'dark night' of St John of the Cross to explore this suffering within the context of faith. Consequently, much of her poetry is marked by moments that contain both momentary glimpses of God's love and the experience of darkness, guilt, and God's absence."

She is one of the poets featured in my new anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry(available here) and through Amazon.

Her Collected Poems 1953-1985 — which she had ruthlessly edited down to 213 pages of the "work she wishes to preserve" — received the W.H. Smith Literary Award. In 2001 she received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Durham University.

The Lord's Prayer

"Give us this day." Give us this day and night.
Give us the bread, the sky. Give us the power
To bend and not be broken by your light.

And let us soothe and sway like the new flower
Which closes, opens to the night, the day,
Which stretches up and rides upon a power

More than its own, whose freedom is the play
Of light, for whom the earth and air are bread.
Give us the shorter night, the longer day.

In thirty years so many words were spread,
And miracles. An undefeated death
Has passed as Easter passed, but those words said

Finger our doubt and run along our breath.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Elizabeth Jennings: first post, second 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, June 12, 2017

Marin Sorescu

Marin Sorescu (1936—1996) is a Romanian poet, playwright and prose writer. In 1964 the Romanian government began to relax its censorship rules, which led to a resurgence of literature in that country. Sorescu became one of the leading figures.

His 1968 play Iona (Jonah) takes the Biblical story and expands it to imaginatively include a tale of what went on inside the whale's belly. It played to packed theatres in Bucharest, until it was withdrawn because of its controversial content.

The following poem (translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Linda Vianu) was written in the Cochin Hospital, Paris in October of 1996 — and the second, two months later, just three days before Sorescu's death. They both appear in The Bridge.

Lord!

Lord,
Take me by the hand
And let's go! Together we'll run away
From this world!
Let's duck out for some air.
Maybe with a change of scene,
I'll feel more in my element
By Your side.

A Turn For The Better

It's good, O Lord,
That You thought of me
And didn't choose somebody else
For Your delicate, frightful
Experiment.

I knew I could stand up to the worst
And I boasted
That deep inside I had
Inexhaustible energy.

I fell into the sin of pride.
Forgive me,
It's human —
Avert Your glance likewise
From my other sins.

I believe that the life granted me
Really was mine,
That I really was myself,
Perhaps sometimes forgetting You.

Now, beginning to take a turn for the better,
Or so those who see me say,
I must be treading on Your coattails of rainbow,
To the totality of my fright,
I've come to add the precious stone of humility,
And I bring to the Creator of light
My praise of magnificence and glory.

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, June 5, 2017

Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle (1956—2017) is a Catholic novelist, essayist and poet, having published 28 works, and been nominated nine times for the Oregon Book Award — eventually winning for his novel Martin Marten (2016), which also won the Leslie Bradshaw Award for Young Adult Literature, and the Banff Mountain Book Award for Fiction. He died on May 27th from complications related to a brain tumor.

In 1991 he became editor of the University of Portland's Portland Magazine, a role he served well in for the remainder of his life. His most-recent poetry collection How The Light Gets In (2015, Orbis Books) — whose title comes from a Leonard Cohen song — is described as a collection of prose poems, since Doyle's style is quite conversational, and unconcerned with meter or other maters of poetic musicality.

The following poem first appeared in The Christian Century.

Mrs. Job

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job;
And he was essentially a blameless dude, and unarrogant,
And he was blessed with seven sons, and three daughters,
Which is a lot of children, and where, I ask politely, is the
Part of the Book of Job where we talk about Job’s spouse,
Who is conspicuously not discussed in the back and forth
With his buddies and then suddenly the Big Guy Himself
Answering out of the whirlwind and commanding old Job
To gird up his loins, which loins were undeniably vigorous
Previous to the Lord interrupting Job, and after the Maker
Finishes one of the greatest eloquent scoldings of all time,
He grants old Job another seven sons and three daughters,
Again without the slightest thanks for the astounding Mrs.
Job who suddenly has twenty count them twenty children
With no mention of her humor, or the vast hills of diapers,
Or her wit which survived kids throwing up and the sheep
Wandering off, and plagues of locusts and things like that.
A good editor, I feel, would have asked for just a glancing
Nod to the wry hero of the tale, at least acknowledgment;
Something like a new last line after So Job died, being old
and full of days, which might read, And also passed a most
Amazing woman, of whom nothing other than the blessing
Was ever said, her heart being a gift beyond calculation by
Man, her mind sharp, her tongue gentle, her hands a mercy,
And her very presence full reason to kneel in prayer at that
Which the Lord in His mercy has made and granted briefly.
A line like that would only hint at her, but it’s a start, right?

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, May 29, 2017

Alfred Tennyson

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809—1892) is the most celebrated poet of the nineteenth century. His father served as an Anglican rector, and took his children's education quite seriously. Tennyson was, on the surface, a conventional Anglican, although at times he ventured into unorthodox speculations. In 1849, Tennyson completed the poem "In Memoriam A.H.H." as a requiem for his closest friend Arthur Henry Hallum, who had been engaged to Alfred's sister, but died suddenly in 1833 while visiting Vienna.

"In Memorium" is primarily a collection of elegies that demonstrates the poet's grief and the questioning of his faith. One writer has concluded, "Although Tennyson is submerged in deep sorrow and confronted with questions and challenges to his spiritual beliefs, he becomes a stronger Christian who is filled with faith in a God of love who will reunite him with his departed friend." The poem begins:
------Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
---------Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
---------By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
------Believing where we cannot prove...

Queen Victoria was particularly drawn to this poem, which influenced her to appoint Tennyson as Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland in 1850; a post which he held until his death. He was buried at Westminster Abbey.

The following he saw as his farewell, and expressed that it should be the final poem in any edition of his poetry.

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
------And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
------When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
------Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
------Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
------And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
------When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
------The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
------When I have crost the bar.

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, May 22, 2017

Michael Symmons Roberts*

Michael Symmons Roberts is Professor of Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University. His most-recent poetry book is Selected Poems (2016). He tells me his next collection, Mancunia, is scheduled to appear in August of 2017. Robert Potts wrote for The Guardian, “He reflects on the world in a way that is informed by a sense of grace, of transcendence, but the pieces are grounded in detail, beautifully expressed, subtly luminous.”

He is one of the poets featured in my new anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry(available here) and through Amazon.

Besides being a poet, Michael Symmons Roberts is a novelist and librettist. The opera The Sacrifice, which he wrote with composer James MacMillan won the RPS Award for opera in 2008.

The following poem is from Drysalter and his Selected Poems — both published by Jonathan Cape.

World Into Fragments

Small breaks first: cup on marble floor,
mirror on staircase, cracked watch-face,
hairlines in roof tiles. Then it escalates.

Plate windows shiver into diamonds,
smoked office towers smoke into tobacco heaps,
screens give way to white noise, then blow.

Reasons for this shattering include
too great a tension, too much shrill,
a world more fragile than we thought.

Yet still it goes, ear-splitting, as
great forests disassemble like mosaics,
sugar-glass trees turn shingle, then the sky,

sun and moon as vast burst bulbs,
hot torrential hail. And when it stops,
we see for real, as if through mud and spit.

Posted with permission of the poet.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Michael Symmons Roberts: 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, May 15, 2017

Benjamin Myers

Benjamin Myers is the author of two poetry collections, Elegy For Trains (2010, Village Books Press) which won the Oklahoma Book Award, and Lapse Americana (2013, New York Quarterly Books). He has also received a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He is the 2015-2016 Poet Laureate for the State of Oklahoma.

His poems have appeared at Verse Daily, and in Yale Review, Nimrod, and Poetry Northwest. Myers is the Crouch-Mathis Professor of Literature at Oklahoma Baptist University.

The following poem is from Elegy For Trains.

On Taking Communion with My Students

Let greasy spikes be caught in halos
thrown from chapel windows
and the lazy shuffle of saints
trace the body of Christ down the chapel alley.

Let this one,
paper late,
eyes avoiding mine
like two blackbirds in sudden flight,
receive.

And let this one,
absent a week
only to resurface
as the sinking vessel rises
one last time from ocean’s deep midnight,
also receive.

The wind empties itself
outside the chapel,
madly hurls the vowels and consonants
collected all its lifetime
ceaselessly
at the stones.

I hear on the gale
my words
from the morning’s lecture:
the world is text.

I, too, am reading it for the first time.

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, May 8, 2017

Joost van den Vondel

Joost van den Vondel (1587—1679) is considered to be Holland's national playwright, and the most prominent Dutch poet of the 17th century. Although his Dutch contemporaries — the painters Rembrandt and Rubens — are known internationally, Vondel is little known outside of Holland.

The most valued of all his thirty full-length dramas is Lucifer, which opened at the Amsterdam City Theatre in February of 1654. The play was boycotted and protested by Calvinists who felt Vodel's treatment of scripture was outrageous. Some critics have even suggested that Milton's portrayal of Satan in Paradise Lost (1667) is influenced by Vondel.

The following is from Noel Clark's translation of Lucifer. These lines are spoken by the angel Gabriel.

from Lucifer Act One

Hearken ye Angels! All ye Heavenly bands!
The Supreme Godhead from whose bosom flows
All that is good and holy, who no respite knows
From mercy, but whose store of grace grows greater —
(No creature yet can fathom the Creator!)
This God, in His own image, fashioned Man
So he, together with the Angels can,
By honouring God’s laws with zealous care,
His everlasting Kingdom hope to share.
Earth’s universe God wrought – a wondrous sight,
Both Man and his Creator to delight …
As Eden’s ruler, Man should multiply,
With all his offspring serve the Deity,
Knowing and loving Him, Earth’s stairs ascending
Towards perpetual light and bliss unending.
Long did the Spirit-world all else outshine,
Now, to exalt Mankind is God’s design:
Preferred to Angels even, Man will be shown
A path to splendour equalling God’s own.
Bedecked in flesh and blood, anointed Lord
And Master, passing judgment on the horde
Of Spirits, Angels and Mankind, you’ll see
The King of Heaven come in majesty.
There stands His Throne, already sanctified!
Let Angels all in earnest prayer abide
Till He appears, whose choice of human stature
Sets Him above all beings of our nature!
Then shall the Seraphim less brightly shine,
In human light and radiance divine.
God’s grace puts Nature’s brilliance in the shade:
That is the future. The decision’s made!

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, May 1, 2017

Mischa Willett

Mischa Willett teaches English at Seattle Pacific University, where his specialty is nineteenth century poetics. He has taught at Washington University and Northwest University, and has served as Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Tuebingen in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. His poems have appeared in Books & Culture, Christian Century and Grain, and in his 2013 chapbook, Lunatic.

Scott Cairns has said that, "Mischa Willett has a music all his own, albeit a music informed by years of his attending to the inexhaustible songs that comprise both world poetry and sacred text."

Willett's first full-length poetry collection, Phases, is the newest book in the Poiema Poetry Series. I am pleased to have assisted him as the editor for this collection. Many poems in Phases interact with the classical period or are set in Rome. It is, therefore, note-worthy that this summer he and poet Jennifer Maier will be leading a study trip to Rome with Seattle Pacific University.

Pastoral

Let us not overlook, he says looking out over
us from the lectern like a shepherd
with a crook of words bent on folding
us back into our pen, or penning
us back to our fold, the stupidity
and defenselessness of sheep.
We bleat: in this analogy, who
are we?
He proceeds. Goats, you
see, can handle themselves. Horns
and hoofs, cranial helmets they ram
full tilt into posts, or other goats. But sheep
mind you, sheep have no homing device,
which is why stories begin with a lost one;
they’re even known to head toward danger
—oh look, a wolf! Let’s check it out!— in dumb
allegiance to the interesting, which I find
interesting, and think: how to amend
our sheepish ways? But he, to drive
home both the point and oh ye,
sighs it’s beyond you; beyond me.

Phases is available from Cascade Books.

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.