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.