Monday, February 18, 2019

Alexander Pope*

Alexander Pope (1688—1744) is a British poet known for his long and satirical poems — such as The Rape of the Lock (1714) and The Dunciad (1728). He was highly influenced by John Dryden, and is said to have perfected Dryden’s technique of rhymed couplets.

He is considered to be the first full-time self-supporting English writer, which came about through selling subscriptions to editions of his translations of Homer, and his editions of Shakespeare.

In his poem An Essay on Man (1733) Pope presents, as The Poetry Foundation puts it, “an aesthetic and philosophical argument for the existence of order in the world, contending that we know the world to be unified because God created it.”

Prayer of Saint Francis Xavier

Thou art my God, sole object of my love;
Not for the hope of endless joys above;
Nor for the fear of endless pains below,
Which they who love thee not must undergo.

For me, and such as me, thou deign'st to bear
An ignominious cross, the nails, the spear:
A thorny crown transpierc'd thy sacred brow,
While bloody sweats from ev'ry member flow.

For me in tortures thou resignd'st thy breath,
Embrac'd me on the cross, and sav'd me by thy death.
And can these sufferings fail my heart to move?
What but thyself can now deserve my love?

Such as then was, and is, thy love to me,
Such is, and shall be still, my love to thee —
To thee, Redeemer! mercy's sacred spring!
My God, my Father, Maker, and my King!

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Alexander Pope: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, February 11, 2019

George Moses Horton

George Moses Horton (1797—1884) is a North Carolina poet who was a slave. He was born on the plantation of William Horton, where he taught himself to read, although he could not write. He composed poems in his mind, and then recited them to others.

His first book The Hope of Liberty was published in 1829 after his master had permitted him to visit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where students encouraged his poetry, and where a professor’s wife tutored and assisted him. This made him the first black author in the South to publish a book. His hope had been to earn enough from his poetry to secure his freedom, but this was not the case. He wrote two further books of poetry: Poetical Works (1845) and Naked Genius (1865).

He wrote many poems of Christian faith, such as: “On the Truth of the Saviour” which includes the lines:
-----Behold the storms at his rebuke,
-----All calm upon the sea—
-----How can we for another look,
-----When none can work as he?

George Moses Horton served in the Union army during the American Civil War; after the war he moved to Philadelphia, where he lived until his death.

On The Conversion of a Sister

'Tis the voice of my sister at home,
Resigned to the treasures above,
Inviting the strangers to come,
And feast at the banquet of love.

'Tis a spirit cut loose from its chain,
'Tis the voice of a culprit forgiven,
Restored from a prison of pain,
With the sound of a concert from heaven.

'Tis a beam from the regions of light,
A touch of beatific fire;
A spirit exulting for flight,
With a strong and impatient desire.

'Tis a drop from the ocean of love,
A foretaste of pleasures to come,
Distilled from the fountain above,
The joy which awaits her at home.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Philip C. Kolin*

Philip C. Kolin is the Distinguished Professor of English (Emeritus) at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a very prolific writer, having authored more than 40 books. He has also published numerous poetry collections including Departures (2014, Negative Capability), Benedict’s Daughter (2017, Resource Publications), and his newly-released Reaching Forever (Poiema Poetry Series).

It has been my privilege to work with Philip C. Kolin as the editor for this new book. I have also included one of his poems on my new web-journal Poems For Ephesians, which is on the McMaster Divinity College website.

Kolin is very active in the literary world, having, for example, recently co-edited a collection of poems about the Mississippi River for Louisiana Literature Press entitled Down to the Dark River. He is also the editor of the Southern Quarterly.

The following poem first appeared in America, and is from Reaching Forever.

When God Arrives

Let your eyes write
new tears for a pilgrimage
to a place you cannot see.

But wait
for the thick darkness.
That is when he will call

for you. Till then
quiver your soul.
Don’t think about

being made in his image.
You will only be looking
into a dark mirror.

He lives in infinity, and his voice is
an octave higher than silence.
His words thrum

through the clouds.
He whispers fire and speaks
in endless vowels.

He comes with a river bird
asperging feathers.
Pray for the sky that absorbs

evaporating continents
and black-plumed sins.
As his train goes by,

you realize you do not
have to wear
your body anymore.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Philip C. Kolin: first post.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Horatio Gates Spafford

Horatio Gates Spafford (1828—1888) is famous for penning the words to the famous hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” which Philip Bliss later put to music. Spafford and his wife were close friends and supporters of the evangelist Dwight L. Moody. His booklet Waiting For The Morning and Other Poems was published by H.F. Revell (Chicago) in 1878.

Spafford’s tragic story is almost as well-known as the hymn. In 1873, his wife and four daughters were crossing the Atlantic aboard the steamship SS Ville de Havre when it collided with another vessel. Spafford’s wife, Anna, survived, but all four girls perished. According to another daughter who was born after this event, Horatio Spafford wrote the first four stanzas of “It Is Well With My Soul” on his ocean journey to meet his wife in England. The place where their daughters drowned was shown to him, which for us gives even greater power to the simile in the second line.

After returning to Chicago, the Spaffords became preoccupied with views that were inconsistent with those of their Presbyterian community. They left their church and held prayer meetings in their home. In 1881 they moved to Jerusalem to establish The American Colony there.

It Is Well With My Soul


When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

(Refrain:) It is well (it is well),
with my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
(Refrain)

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
(Refrain)

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pain shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
(Refrain)

And Lord haste the day, when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
(Refrain)

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Mary Oliver*

Mary Oliver (1935—2019) is one of the best-selling contemporary poets in the United States. Her poems are far more often about the natural world — about birds and trees and marshes — than about people; even so she has written many poems about Jesus, and about Christian faith. Her style is accessible, and earnest. She once said in an interview, "One thing I do know is that poetry, to be understood, must be clear. It mustn't be fancy." She died of lymphoma on Thursday (January 17th).

Jewish Rabbi Jeffery Salkin wrote on the day of her passing, “Mary Oliver rejects logical explanation. She leaves room for uncertainty; in fact, she embraces it.” He quotes from one of her recent poems:
-----“I have refused to live
-----locked in the orderly house of
-----reasons and proofs.
-----The world I live in and believe in
-----is wider than that. And anyway,
-----what’s wrong with Maybe? ...”

The following poem was written much earlier.

Maybe

Sweet Jesus, talking
-----his melancholy madness,
----------stood up in the boat
---------------and the sea lay down,
silky and sorry.
-----So everybody was saved
----------that night.
---------------But you know how it is
when something
-----different crosses
----------the threshold — the uncles
---------------mutter together,
the women walk away,
-----the young brother begins
----------to sharpen his knife.
---------------Nobody knows what the soul is.
It comes and goes
-----like the wind over the water —
----------sometimes, for days,
---------------you don't think of it.
Maybe, after the sermon,
-----after the multitude was fed,
----------one or two of them felt
---------------the soul slip forth
like a tremor of pure sunlight
-----before exhaustion,
----------that wants to swallow everything,
---------------gripped their bones and left them
miserable and sleepy,
-----as they are now, forgetting
----------how the wind tore at the sails
---------------before he rose and talked to it —
tender and luminous and demanding
-----as he always was —
----------a thousand times more frightening
---------------than the killer storm.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Mary Oliver: first post, second post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Juan Ruiz

Juan Ruiz the Archpriest of Hita (c. 1283—c. 1350) is a Castilian poet and cleric, who wrote in his masterwork The Book of Good Love (1643) both verse about the spiritual love of God, and tales of men pursuing carnal love.

Little is known about the author, other than he was the Archpriest in the Spanish village of Hita, and that he was probably imprisoned, as his own work expresses.

The following poem was translated by Mack Singleton

Invocation

Oh God, Who Father art and Son, and likewise Spirit Holy,
Of Blessed Virgin Mother born [and gentle Maiden lowly]—
The strength send us Thy name to praise in canticle
-----and rhyme!
Our shield and mantle be Thou, Lord, [through years
-----and days of time]!

May He Who heaven fashion did, and earth contrive and sea,
His light and grace abiding send [a lowly sinner,] me!
From shining verses’ pleasant sheaf then book will I devise
That men who hear its measures may both gladdened be,
-----[and wise].

O Lord most high, my Savior dear, Who mankind wrought
-----[from dross],
On Archpriest-this, thy strength bestow [to bear his
-----dreary cross].
Then book of courtesy I’ll write shall men’s hearts
-----all refresh;
Their souls ‘twill bring some profit, and some healing to
-----their flesh.

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Barbara Crooker*

Barbara Crooker is a Pennsylvania poet who has just had her eighth poetry collection, The Book of Kells, published, as part of the Poiema Poetry Series from Cascade Books. It is, of course, inspired by the ninth century manuscript of the four Gospels known as The Book of Kells: “Ireland's greatest cultural treasure and the world's most famous medieval manuscript.”

She received a writing fellowship at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, County Monaghan, Ireland. While in Ireland she meditated on pages of the Book of Kells in the Long Library, Trinity College, Dublin. She also remotely studied various pages which are now accessible online.

The Book of Kells is the second Barbara Crooker book I have been fortunate enough to edit with her. She has also had a poem recently appear in my new web-journal Poems For Ephesians, which is on the McMaster Divinity College website.

The following poem first appeared in Presence, and is from The Book of Kells.

Trinity College, the Book of Kells

10/19/13 page of the day: Portrait of St. John, folio 291v and 292r

In a dim room, the Gospel of John rises, pure gold
in the gloom: In the beginning was the word,
and the word was made flesh.
John’s seated
on a throne of ultramarine, haloed
in plaits of light. He’s my tribe, a scribe,
notebook in one hand, pen in the other. Around him,
tattooed in vellum, interlace knots, no beginning
or end. The more I stare in this darkness,
the less I see, patterns too small for my retinae,
these aging eyes. Made from pigments of verdigris,
orpiment, lampblack and woad, is it a vision,
or merely a dream? Metalwork or woven ribbons,
this is the universe recast as pattern, and I draw in
a breath, Word of God on my tongue.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Barbara Crooker: first post, second post.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.