Monday, August 20, 2018

Mildmay Fane

Mildmay Fane (c. 1600—1666) the second Earl of Westmoreland is an English poet. His collection Otia Sacra appeared in 1648. It was the first time a peer of England had published his own verse. This collection consisted of 137 poems. In 2001 another 500 poems, newly identified as his, were published. He was a close friend of Robert Herrick, who dedicated several poems to him.

Fane was made a Knight of the Bath at the Coronation of Charles I (1626). Other literary pursuits included translating the Roman poet Martial, and writing eight stage plays — one of which was composed while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, early in the English Civil War.

A Carol [IV]

When we a gem or precious stone have lost,
-----Is not the fabric or the frame
Of fancy busied, and each thing tossed
----------And turned within the room,
--------------Till we the same
Can find again? Is't not a martyrdom?

Doth vanity affect us so, yet are
-----We slumber-charmed, nor can employ
A thought that backward might reduce, so far,
----------Lively to represent
--------------Our misery,
Who fell and thus incurred a banishment?

Shall we leave any corner reason lends
-----To give sense light, unsought, untried?
To find how far our liberty extends,
----------And how refound we were
--------------Re-edified
By th' Shepherd, and by the Son of the carpenter?

May not this skill and love in him requite
-----The white and better stone to mark,
And t' raise this time above all others higher,
----------Wherein He came (through Light)
--------------Into the dark,
For to restore unto mankind its sight?

Most sure it will: and where neglect denies
-----To be observant of the day,
It proves not only forfeiture of eyes,
----------But all parts seem asleep
--------------Or gone astray—
So's the house again unbuilt, and lost the sheep.

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, August 13, 2018

Anya Krugovoy Silver*

Anya Krugovoy Silver (1968—2018) is a prolific poet, perhaps best known for writing boldly and honestly about her battle with inflammatory breast cancer. She was recently named a Guggenheim fellow for poetry for 2018. I was informed of her death last week, within the first 24 hours. I still feel shock, as she had just been sharing with me about various projects she was working on — including a review of my anthology, Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse, and a new poetry collection.

She participated in the Poiema Poetry reading at the Festival of Faith & Writing in Grand Rapids in April, as pictured below, and will be very missed by the circle of fine poets — including Julie Moore, Barbara Crooker, Tania Runyan, and Marjorie Maddox — who count her as a friend.

The following poem is from her fourth and most-recent book, Second Bloom, which I am honoured to have edited for the Poiema Poetry Series (Cascade Books).

Fourth Advent

On Sunday, I lie beside a friend in bed,
weeping, because she doesn’t want a better place.
How bleak the next life to her grieving sons,
who need their mother here, on earth—
her silly wigs, her marathons, her fingers
deftly pinching dumplings for the feast.
For our sins, it’s said that Christ was born.
The manger’s set up in the church,
my friend sleeps through her steroid pills.
The nights grow still. We wait, Emmanuel.
Merciful one, begotten of woman, understand
how difficult it is to trust that you are kind.

Here is Anya's obituary from Friday's New York Times.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Anya Krugovoy Silver: 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, August 6, 2018

Patrick Kavanagh*

Patrick Kavanagh (1904—1967) is an Irish poet from the farm country of County Monaghan. He was self-educated, and when he moved to Dublin, did not fit in with its literary culture. His early poetry was not exceptional, and his first critical success was his biographical novel The Green Fool in 1938. It exploited the romantic image of the peasant poet, which his contemporaries idealized, but did not respect. He soon desired to distance himself from this stereotype.

He countered this with the long, narrative poem The Great Hunger (1942) which many critics feel is his finest creation. It presents an anti-sentimental view of rural Ireland, and the despair of being tied to an unproductive farm.

For many years Kavanagh supported himself through journalism, developing a sarcastic bite, which he aimed at the Irish cultural elite. He lost a lot of energy, and nearly died of cancer, through these combative years.

In 1959, a former opponent helped him to be posted to the faculty of English at University College, Dublin. Here he became a popular lecturer, and chose a path of forgiveness and contentment. The sonnets in his collection Come Dance With Kitty Stobling (1960) were praised by Richard Murphy in the New York Times Book Review, as "a lyrical celebration of love fulfilled in man by God."

The following poem is all the more powerful when you know the struggle Patrick Kavanagh faced in becoming a significant poet.

Having Confessed

Having confessed he feels
That he should go down on his knees and pray
For forgiveness for his pride, for having
Dared to view his soul from the outside.
Lie at the heart of the emotion, time
Has its own work to do. We must not anticipate
Or awaken for a moment. God cannot catch us
Unless we stay in the unconscious room
Of our hearts. We must be nothing,
Nothing that God may make us something.
We must not touch the immortal material
We must not daydream to-morrow’s judgement—
God must be allowed to surprise us.
We have sinned, sinned like Lucifer
By this anticipation. Let us lie down again
Deep in anonymous humility and God
May find us worthy material for His hand.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Patrick Kavanagh: 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, July 30, 2018

Ida Gerhardt

Ida Gerhardt (1905—1997) is a Dutch poet, and a professor of Greek and Latin. Early on, she was influenced by the poet J.H. Leopold, who was her Classics teacher. In May of 1940 her debut poetry collection, Kosmos, was published. Much of her work is nature poetry, which arises from her Christian belief that there is a unity in all creation and it is the poet's sacred duty to uncover this.

The following poem was translated by John Irons, who says, "The poem describes the effect of the carillon coming from the steeple of a church, which is playing an old hymn included in the Valerius Gedenck-Clanck of 1626: [O Lord, who stretches out the heavens like a tent — Isaiah 40:22]...It is an appeal to God in time of need — highly appropriate in the context of the poem."

The Carillon

The people in the streets looked stricken,
their ashen faces drawn and tight, —
then something made their features quicken
and, listening, they seemed brushed with light.

For in the clock-tower when, resounding,
the bronze-chimed hour had died away,
the carilloneur began his pounding
and everywhere was heard to play.

Valerius: — a solemn singing
with bass bell’s tolling undertone
and flickerings of lighter ringing:
‘We raise our eyes to Thy high throne.’

As one of all those nameless people
who by the house fronts came to stand,
I listened to the pealing steeple
that sang of my afflicted land.

This speechless gathering, beyond us
the city with Dutch light above —
I’ve never for what’s stolen from us
felt such a bitter, bitter love.

War year 1941

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, July 23, 2018

Adam Mickiewicz

Adam Mickiewicz (1798—1855) — Poland's great Romantic poet — was greatly influenced by Lord Byron, Goethe and other Europeans. Christian faith is significant to his character, however in his writing it is often intertwined with his romanticism (combining elements of folk tales, chivalry, and tragic love) and his Polish nationalism.

In 1829 the poet visited Rome, and focussed on his religious practice — writing very little. In 1831 he wrote the third part of his earlier poem "Dziady" ("Forefather's Eve"). In this section he "views Poland as fulfilling a messianic role among the nations of western Europe by its national embodiment of the Christian themes of self-sacrifice and eventual redemption." This erroneous belief can distract from aspects of true Christian faith in his writing.

The Master of Masters

There is a master who has made a song
And tuned alike the heartbeats of a throng;
Like strings all elements of earth he binds
And o'er them guides the thunder and the winds;
And, playing ever with unwearied hand,
Sings to a world that will not understand:

A master who has colored blue the sky,
---And painted on the background of the wave,
And hewn colossal forms on mountains high
---And molded them of metal in the cave:
But all the knowledge that the world has brought
Cannot explain the meaning of his thought.

There is a master with a tongue divine
---Who has revealed the power of God o'er man;
He has interpreted with voice and sign
---The record of his works since time began:
They called him God in days that went before;
Today they scorn him, worshiping no more.

O earthly artist! what are thy small deeds?
Thy feeble carvings and thy books and creeds?
Dost thou complain that some among the throng
Like not thy picture, and sing not thy song?
Then gaze upon the Master, and be proud,
Thou Son of God, rejected by the crowd!

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, July 16, 2018

Mary Karr*

Mary Karr has just released her fifth poetry collection Tropic of Squalor from HarperCollins. This is her first book of poetry since Sinners Welcome (2006). Despite her passion for poetry, she is best known for her trilogy of memoirs, the most-recent of which is Lit (2009). She has also written The Art of Memoir (2015), a book about how to write memoirs. Karr is the Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University, where she's taught for more than 25 years.

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

The following poem first appeared in Commonweal, and is from Tropic of Squalor.

The Devil's Delusion

I lie on my back in the lawnchair to study
the trees claw up toward heaven.
They have all the sap I lack.
It’s doubt I send rivering cloudways
in great boiling torrents, as if all creation
were a bad stage set I could wave
-----------------------------------------------way away,
then I could cast my dark spells in a blink
and a flaming fingersnap—and
a universe de Mare pops up
so I win the everlasting argument against all
that was or will or tiredly is.
As if my soul would not in that blink
be obliterate. As if, as kids say.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Mary Karr: 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, July 9, 2018

Langston Hughes*

Langston Hughes (1902—1967) is the leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Throughout his life he struggled with the attraction he felt for Christian faith and the beauty it poured into black American culture, in contrast with the uses religion is so often put to that have nothing to do with God.

His written output includes novels, plays, short fiction, non-fiction and especially poetry. He felt it important to write for children, such as in his poetry collection The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (1932), about the culture of Black America, and about Christian faith. Hughes "gospel-singing play" Tambourines To Glory premiered on Broadway in 1963. The play was controversial in that it also took on issues of hypocrisy within the Black church.

In the following poem, Langston Hughes uses a black persona, perhaps as a way of expressing his own deep desires without identifying them as his own.

Moan

I'm deep in trouble,
Nobody to understand,
---Lord, Lord!

Deep in trouble,
Nobody to understand,
---O, Lord!

Gonna pray to ma Jesus,
Ask him to gimme His hand.
---Ma Lord!

I'm moanin', moanin',
Nobody cares just why.
---No, Lord!

Moanin', moanin',
Feels like I could die.
---O, Lord!

Sho, there must be peace,
Ma Jesus,
Somewhere in yo' sky.
---Yes Lord!

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Langston Hughes: 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.