Monday, March 18, 2019

Moses

Moses is one of most-significant figures of the Old Testament — prophet, leader, law-giver and intercessor with God himself. He was born in Egypt, and is the only major biblical character to have never, in his lifetime, set foot in the land of Israel. He, along with Elijah, was transfigured with Christ on Mount Tabor (Matthew 17) — signifying the continuity of the law and the prophets, through to the coming of Jesus. The first five books of the Bible are attributed to Moses (although it seems unlikely that he wrote the account in Exodus of his own death).

The following is the only psalm attributed to Moses, and is given here in the New King James Version.

Psalm 90

A Prayer of Moses the man of God.


Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

You turn man to destruction,
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.
You carry them away like a flood;
They are like a sleep.
In the morning they are like grass which grows up:
In the morning it flourishes and grows up;
In the evening it is cut down and withers.

For we have been consumed by Your anger,
And by Your wrath we are terrified.
You have set our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;
We finish our years like a sigh.
The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Return, O LORD!
How long?
And have compassion on Your servants.
Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.

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, March 11, 2019

Diane Glancy*

Diane Glancy is a poet of mixed heritage. Early in life she chose to be identified, with her father, as a Cherokee Native American. She has written extensively as a novelist, playwright, and nonfiction writer. As a poet she has published twenty titles — including both chapbooks and full-length collections. Glancy has received many awards including a Minnesota Book Award, an American Book Award, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, and an Oklahoma Book Award.

In her new collection, The Book of Bearings, she takes on the confusion and conflict implicit in the collision of cultures that happened when Europeans began settling in North America. I am honoured to be the editor of this new collection for Cascade’s Poiema Poetry Series.

Glancy’s poetry has appeared in such journals as American Poetry Review, Image, New England Review, and in the anthology Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

The following poem first appeared in Caliban Online Journal, and is from The Book of Bearings.

St. Bo-gast-ah’s Confession to God in Later Years

All this—the Lord made me understand in writing—
I Chronicles 28:19


It was a daily fog.
Sometimes I cannot get off the floor.
I am a slug that moves across the step
leaving a silver trail.
To know there was a bright light from within.
To know it even in the darkness.

Have mercy on the uprooted.
On the unwanted.
On the made-over to fit somehow.
You reform us, Lord.
You yourself were remade to a man struggling
on the cross.
You were thought odd.
You were dismissed.
In that we are one.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Diane Glancy: 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, March 4, 2019

Paul Willis*

Paul J. Willis has been a professor at Westmount College for thirty years, and is the former Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara, California. He has had two recent experiences as an Artist-in-Residence in the North Cascade Mountains; these have been a significant influence on his two most-recent poetry collections — Deer at Twilight (2018, Stephen F. Austin State University Press) and Little Rhymes For Lowly Plants (2019, Kelsay Books).

As the title of his new book indicates, he has been recently drawn into formally-structured poetry, and has unpretentiously chosen to focus on what he’s found around his feet. There is also a section in this book about matters of faith — including five poems that previously appeared in my anthology Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

He has now published six collections of poetry, including Say This Prayer Into The Past (2013, Poiema Poetry Series). The following poem is from Little Rhymes For Lowly Plants.

Here and There

-----(Platanus racemose)

The ivory of sycamore
in the winter morning sun
for just an hour. But what a shine.

We too stand up illuminated,
in the valley of the shadow,
losing leaves, and that’s a sign

our roots are meant for higher ground;
though we may grow as splendid oak,
bay, sycamore, we sigh and pine.

—Los Padres National Forest

*This is the fourth Kingdom Poets post about Paul Willis: first post second post, third 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, February 25, 2019

Thomas Dekker

Thomas Dekker (1572—1632) is a contemporary of Shakespeare who wrote prolifically — particularly as a playwright. He collaborated on plays with Ben Jonson — both before and after they had written mocking portrayals of each other for the London stage. Dekker’s most famous play, The Shoemaker’s Holiday (1599), a rowdy comedy of life in London, is still performed today. He was also very active as a pamphleteer, taking on such topics as the London Plague of 1603, and the Gunpowder Plot.

Paul McCartney borrowed from Dekker the following lines, almost unaltered, and set them to music, without acknowledging their source for The Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road.
-----Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
-----Smiles awake you when you rise;
-----Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
-----And I will sing a lullaby...

Although Dekker was not particularly known as a religious man, C.S. Lewis recognized the root of the line, “All life is but a wandering to find home” — from the play The Witch of Edmonton — as an “exposition of medieval Christian doctrine.”

The following comes from Robert Hudson’s 2017 edition of Dekker’s Four Birds of Noah’s Ark — a prayer book, rather than a poetry book. Even so, these prayers are expressed in poetic lines, which speak eloquently in metaphor and echoing rhythms, very much like the Psalms. Hudson has annotated the prayers and modernized the language, without robbing Dekker’s prayers of their music.

A Prayer For The City

[Luke 19:41-44]

O Father of mercy, look down upon this city not
-----with an eye of justice, for no flesh
-----is righteous in your sight, but behold this,
-----your sanctuary, as your Son beheld Jerusalem.
Set, O Lord, a host of angels at the gates,
-----and let truth spread her banner on the walls.
-----Let not the arrow of the invader fall
-----upon our houses by day nor the sword
-----of the strong man smite us by night.
Give wisdom, O Lord, to the rulers of this city,
-----zeal to the preachers, and holiness of life
-----to the inhabitants. Let the tree of your gospel,
-----which for so many years has flourished here,
-----still spread into large branches, and may
-----those branches bear an abundance of lively fruit.
Save, O Lord, this temple of yours; bless it, defend it,
-----crown it with honors so that it may outshine
-----all the cities in the world
-----in goodness as it does in greatness. Amen.

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 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.