Monday, February 24, 2014

Anne Locke

Anne Locke (c.1530—1590) is an English poet, and translator of sermons. In 1553, John Knox stayed with the Locke family, and in 1557 she travelled with him to Geneva. She is known today for having written the first sonnet sequence to have appeared in the English language. A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner, upon the 51st Psalm, consists of 21 sonnets inspired by King David's Psalm 51, plus a five-sonnet preface. Her son, Henry Locke, later became known as a poet as well.

Her sonnet sequence was first published, in 1560, by being slipped into the back of a book of John Calvin's sermons, which Anne Locke had translated from French. The following is the first of the 21 sonnets.

from A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner, upon the 51st Psalm

Have mercy, God, for thy great mercy's sake.
O God: my God, unto my shame I say,
Being fled from thee, so as I dread to take
Thy name in wretched mouth, and fear to pray
Or ask the mercy that I have abused.
But, God of mercy, let me come to thee:
Not for justice, that justly am accused:
Which self word Justice so amazeth me,
That scarce I dare thy mercy sound again.
But mercy, Lord, yet suffer me to crave.
Mercy is thine: Let me not cry in vain,
Thy great mercy for my great fault to have.
Have mercy, God, pity my penitence
With greater mercy than my great offense.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new 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, February 17, 2014

Charles Causley

Charles Causley (1917—2003) is a Cornish poet who, even after gaining international attention, would rarely leave his hometown of Launceston. Although he previously had had slim poetry volumes, such as Farewell Aggie Weston (1951), published, his reputation became established in 1957 with the appearance of Union Street — which included an enthusiastic introduction by Edith Sitwell. In 1967 he received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and in 1986 he was presented a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). In the 1970s, he also began publishing collections of poetry for children.

He was a very private man, and yet had friendships with such poets as Jack Clemo and Ted Hughes. Hughes once said, " Among the English poetry of the last half century, Charles Causley's could well turn out to be the best loved and most needed."

Dana Gioia has called, Charles Causley "a Christian poet in an agnostic age", and notes that the following poem, in which Christ is speaking from the cross, was "inspired by a seventeenth-century Norman crucifix".

I Am the Great Sun

I am the great sun, but you do not see me,
I am your husband, but you turn away.
I am the captive, but you do not free me,
I am the captain but you will not obey.

I am the truth, but you will not believe me,
I am the city where you will not stay.
I am your wife, your child, but you will leave me,
I am that God to whom you will not pray.

I am your counsel, but you will not hear me,
I am your lover whom you will betray.
I am the victor, but you do not cheer me,
I am the holy dove whom you will slay.

I am your life, but if you will not name me,
Seal up your soul with tears, and never blame me.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new 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, February 10, 2014

Emily Brontë

Emily Brontë (1818—1848) is known for her poetry and for her one novel Wuthering Heights (1847). She is part of the famous trio of sisters, along with Anne and Charlotte. Her mother died of cancer when she was just three years old. Her father was an evangelical ordained minister in the Church of England. In 1846 the three sisters published a book of poems under their pseudonyms; it was called Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Twenty one of the poems were Emily's. The book, unfortunately, only sold two copies.

According to Charlotte, the following poem contains, "...the last lines my sister Emily ever wrote." The poem was one of Emily Dickinson's favourites, and was chosen by her to be read at her funeral.

No Coward Soul is Mine

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven's glories shine,
And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear.

0 God within my breast,
Almighty ever-present Deity!
Life—that in me hast rest,
As I—Undying Life—have power in Thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men's hearts, unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thy infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears

Though Earth and moon were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And thou wert left alone,
Every Existence would exist in thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou—Thou art Being and Breath,
And what thou art may never be destroyed.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new 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, February 3, 2014

Nicholas Samaras*

Nicholas Samaras may have been expected to deliver a quick follow-up to his book Hands of the Saddlemaker, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award back in 1991. He didn't. That follow-up will be delivered by The Ashland Poetry Press in March of 2014. One reason for the delay, is that his new manuscript—American Psalm, World Psalm—consists of 150 new poems: a large undertaking.

Yes, these are psalms—150 of them to emulate the Psalms of scripture. As Samaras has written in his preface: "I began this writing because I always perceived the Biblical Psalms to be pure songs, as the most powerful of rhythms and choruses." His psalms are reminiscent in tone to those written by King David, Asaph and the Sons of Korah. They also remind me of Leonard Cohen's Book of Mercy, although more consistently demonstrating a spirit of submission.

I am honoured that Nicholas Samaras contacted me concerning American Psalm, World Psalm. The following is the 26th psalm in the collection. This is the first time it has appeared anywhere.

Psalm of Belief and Unbelief

Lord, although I know you are there,
let me know you are there.

Lord, I know you are with me
but be with me.

I know you hear my every breath
but hear me, Lord.

I am the draft at the insulated window,
the lingering child in the adult.

I am the light overcome by night,
the persistent wavering that calls out,

Lord, although I know you are there,
let me know you are there.

As I know you are with me, be with me
while I overcome myself, Lord—and hear

my every breath.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Nicholas Samaras: first post

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new 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.