Monday, December 26, 2016

Pauline Johnson*

Pauline Johnson (1861—1914) also known as Tekahionwake, is a Canadian poet, daughter of an English mother and a Mohawk father. She is known for her poetry and performances that celebrated her aboriginal heritage. After a recital of one of her poems in 1892, she very rapidly became a sensation. Her work was championed by many in the Toronto Arts community, which led to wide-spread performances, and the publication of her first book, The White Wampum, in London in 1894.

The following poem is from that book, and also from her complete poems, known as Flint and Feather. My hardcover copy from 1931 is the Twenty-third Edition, and reveals that her poetry had appeared in both prestigious publications — such as Toronto Saturday Night and Harper's Weekly — but also more humble venture's such as The Boys' World, a weekly pulp Sunday School publication.

She died in Vancouver in 1914.

Christmastide

I may not go to-night to Bethlehem,
Nor follow star-directed ways, nor tread
The paths wherein the shepherds walked, that led
To Christ, and peace, and God’s good will to men.

I may not hear the Herald Angels’ song
Peal through the oriental skies, nor see
The wonder of that Heavenly company
Announce the King the world had waited long.

The manger throne I may not kneel before,
Or see how man to God is reconciled,
Through pure St. Mary’s purer, holier child;
The human Christ these eyes may not adore.

I may not carry frankincense and myrrh
With adoration to the Holy One;
Nor gold have I to give the Perfect Son,
To be with those wise kings a worshipper.

Not mine the joy that Heaven sent to them,
For ages since Time swung and locked his gates,
But I may kneel without—the star still waits,
To guide me on to holy Bethlehem.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Pauline Johnson: 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, December 19, 2016

Dana Gioia*

Dana Gioia has five poetry collections, including Interrogations at Noon—which won the 2002 American Book Award—and his latest, 99 Poems: New & Selected (Graywolf, 2016). He was the chair for the National Endowment for the Arts between 2003 and 2009. Gioia teaches at the University of Southern California.

He is one of the poets featured in my new anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry, which came out in November — (available here) and through Amazon.

The following poem is from the December issue of First Things. More of his poems are available on the First Things website.

Tinsel, Frankincense, and Fir

Hanging old ornaments on a fresh cut tree,
I take each red glass bulb and tinfoil seraph
And blow away the dust. Anyone else
Would throw them out. They are so scratched and shabby.

My mother had so little joy to share
She kept it in a box to hide away.
But on the darkest winter nights—voilà—
She opened it resplendently to shine.

How carefully she hung each thread of tinsel,
Or touched each dime-store bauble with delight.
Blessed by the frankincense of fragrant fir,
Nothing was too little to be loved.

Why do the dead insist on bringing gifts
We can’t reciprocate? We wrap her hopes
Around the tree crowned with a fragile star.
No holiday is holy without ghosts.

Posted with permission from the poet

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Dana Gioia: 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, December 12, 2016

Sarah Klassen*

Sarah Klassen is a Manitoba poet and writer who has won several awards, including the Gerald Lampert Award for her debut collection Journey to Yalta (1988), and a National Magazine Gold Award for poetry (2000). She lives in Winnipeg where, in the 1990s, she edited the Mennonite women's magazine Sophia. Her seventh poetry book — which I consider to be her best yet — is Monstrance (2012, Turnstone Press). Her novel, The Wittenbergs, was published by Turnstone in 2013.

She is one of the poets featured in my new anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry, which came out in November. (available here)

The following poem is from Monstrance.

Night sky at Deep Bay

Midnight, and the sky above the lake
ablaze with a zillion fires lit while I slept.
Each flame a declaration, each solemn planet bright.
I tilt my head way back, and there's The Milky Way,
there's Cassiopeia, Orion, Ursa Major the Pleiades,
a whole bright host.

Years ago while snow fell quietly on Latvia,
I entered the majestic Riga Dom.
From the balcony a choir sang, a capella,
from Schubert's Deutsche Messe,
the Sanctus.

The Baltic Sea slept
while the sanctuary's hushed, cold corners
overflowed with: Holy, Holy, Holy
and our eyes with tears.

On the beach tonight I shiver, not with cold,
but overcome—unwitting witness
to the firmament's explosion—with astonishment.
As if the host of Bethlehem's angels
and the celestial Latvian voices joined
to wake the midnight world
with radiant, resounding Glorias.

(When I am old or ill
will all the stars be there, still
burning, still untarnished,
declaring truth and beauty
are not dead, not even dormant?
And will that choir sing?)


Posted with permission of the poet.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Sarah Klassen: 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, December 5, 2016

Pamela S. Wynn

Pamela S. Wynn is an adjunct professor, teaching poetry and writing, at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. She grew up in North Carolina, but has lived in Minnesota for 34 years. Her husband is medieval historian Phillip Wynn. Her poetry collection Diamonds on the Back of a Snake appeared in 2004 from Laurel Poetry Collective. She has also edited the anthology Body of Evidence (2012) with Laurel.

She was commissioned by Northwestern University in Minnesota, to write the libretto for the opera “Ruth” with composer Barbara Rogers. It was performed in 2008.

The following poem is from the December issue of Sojourners. It is one of the annual Christmas poems she has written over the past ten years, which she sends out to friends on handmade bookmarks along with her Christmas cards. Here is a link to other Sojourners poetry.

Advent Candles

for St. Teresa of Avila

Lighting these candles—porous and buoyant—
Grounds us

Flames draw our eyes to heavens dotted white
With celestial thought

To look back in time through the stars
Hundreds of light-years away

To glimpse God standing
On the shore of God’s self

With outrageous visions and promises
Of hope that strain our belief

What can we do with such promises?
With tradition that grounds us in hope

In stars-----in candles-----in souls set alight?

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, November 28, 2016

Pádraig J. Daly

Pádraig J. Daly is an Irish poet and Augustinian friar in Dublin. He has written eleven poetry collections including, Nowhere But in Praise (1978), The Last Dreamers: New & Selected Poems (1999), The Other Sea (2003), and Afterlife (2010). His most recent book is God in Winter (2015, Dedalus Press).

John F. Deane wrote of God in Winter: "Daly’s poems affirm hope...a hope that does not ignore our present reality, in poems that focus on the actuality of incarnation, where God is divined in everyday living. These are poems that eschew mere devotion, but whose breathing rhythms and beautifully-modulated music, touch the deepest and most valuable heart-strings."

Pádraig J. Daly has also translated poetry into English from Italian — Edoardo Sanguineti, (Libretto), and Paolo Ruffilli (Joy and Mourning) — and from Irish.

The following poem first appeared in Image, and has since appeared in Poetry Daily.

Mary

If she had said, No,
The world would not have stopped:
Birds would have flown high still into sky,
The heavens would have proclaimed his glory
And the firmament the work of his hands.

We would have gone on reproving him,
Unaware of how deeply down
His love might plunge into our affliction,
Unaware of how he might have taken upon himself
The consequences of our nos.

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, November 21, 2016

Rosalia de Castro

Rosalia de Castro (1837—1885) is a poet who wrote in the Galician language of Northwest Spain, as well as in Spanish. She was born in scandal as the illegitimate daughter of a priest. In 1863 her first poetry collection, Galician Songs, was published on the 17th of May—a date still celebrated as Galician Literature Day. Her book helped the cause of reinstating the Galician language for literary purposes.

Seventeen years later her book New Leaves appeared—a book where she identifies closely with widows, orphans and other destitute individuals.
------When the North Wind blows cold
------and a fire warms our home,
------they pass by my door—
------thin, naked, and hungry—
------and my spirit becomes frozen
------like their bodies.
These homeless become a symbol of Galician poverty. In her latter poetry she also became tormented by spiritual doubts, often crying out in her poetry for God to restore her faith—a prayer that seems to have been answered before her death.

Federico Garcia Lorca is one of the twentieth century poets whose attention to her poetry helped to re-establish her literary reputation.

The following is from the English-language collection of her work, Poems, edited and translated by Anna-Marie Aldaz, Barbara N. Gantt, and Anne C. Bromley.

God Placed A Veil

God placed a veil
over our hearts,
a veil that conceals an abyss
that only He can see.

When I consider what would be revealed
about the one I adore —
humble and on my knees
as one worships the Lord —

if this veil were to drop
suddenly between the two of us,
I tremble...and bowing my head,
I say, "How wise is God!"

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, November 14, 2016

Robert Fitzgerald

Robert Fitzgerald (1910—1985) is well known for his verse translations of Homer's The Odyssey and The Iliad. He also translated works by Sophocles, Euripides, and Virgil. His career began in journalism, working at the New York Herald Tribune and at Time Magazine. Later he held teaching positions at such schools as Princeton and Harvard.

He and his wife Sally edited two of Flannery O'Connor's books. He was also appointed in 1984 to the position now known as the Poet Laureate of the United States.

He expressed his philosophy as:
------"So hard at best is the lot of man, and so great is the beauty he
------can apprehend, that only a religious conception of things can take
------in the extremes and meet the case. Our lifetimes have seen the
------opening of abysses before which the mind quails. But it seems to
------me there are a few things everyone can humbly try to hold onto:
------love and mercy (and humor) in everyday living; the quest for exact
------truth in language and affairs of the intellect; self-recollection
------or prayer; and the peace, the composed energy of art."

The following poem comes from Fitzgerald's fourth poetry collection Spring Shade: Poems, 1931—1970.

Solstitium Saeculare

Winter blows on my eaves,
And dry stalks nod in the snow
Pitted by dripping trees.

The strong sun, brought low,
Gives but an evening glare
Through black twigs' to-and-fro

At noon in the cold air.
A rusty windmill grates.
I sit in a Roman chair,

Musing upon Roman fates,
And make peace with Rome
While the solar Fury waits.

I hold my peace at home
And call to my wondering mind
The chaos I came from—

Waste sea and ancient wind
That sailing long I fought,
Unshriven and thin-skinned.

God knows why I perished not,
But made it here by grace
To harbor beyond my thought,

To the stillness of this place.
Here while I live I hold
Young hope in one embrace

With all the ruin of old,
And bless God's will in each;
And bless His word of gold.

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, November 7, 2016

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde (1854—1900) is perhaps the greatest wit of the 19th century. He is the author of such plays as The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere's Fan, and A Woman of No Importance — and of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Notorious for having being prosecuted for "acts of gross indecency with other male persons", for having made frivolous comments about the charges themselves in court, and for his conviction and subsequent imprisonment — Wilde is also known for his deathbed conversion. In his poem "Ballad of Reading Gaol", Wilde wrote:
-----------"Ah! Happy they whose hearts can break
-----------And peace of pardon win!
-----------How else may man make straight his plan
-----------And cleanse his soul from Sin?
-----------How else but through a broken heart
-----------May Lord Christ enter in?"

His long interest in Catholicism is shown through such flippant comments as saying the Catholic Church is "for saints and sinners alone — for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do". The following poem, from 1881, also demonstrates that Wilde had long considered the truth that salvation comes through Christ alone.

E Tenebris

Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach thy hand,
For I am drowning in a stormier sea
Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee:
The wine of life is spilt upon the sand,
My heart is as some famine-murdered land,
Whence all good things have perished utterly,
And well I know my soul in Hell must lie
If I this night before God's throne should stand.
'He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase,
Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name
From morn to noon on Carmel's smitten height.'
Nay, peace, I shall behold before the night,
The feet of brass, the robe more white than flame,
The wounded hands, the weary human face.

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, October 31, 2016

Danielle Chapman

Danielle Chapman is the author of the poetry collection Delinquent Palaces (2015, TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press). She served as consulting editor for Poetry magazine from 2005-2007, was the director of publishing industry programs for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs for five years, and now lectures in English at Yale University.

Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic and The New Yorker. She and her husband, Christian Wiman, have twin daughters.

The following poem is from Delinquent Palaces.

In Order

I've filled my lungs with fog.
I have sobbed in certain, familiar attics
where each fond object had been
hung or shoved away by hands
whose roughness I had loved,
and the carpet smelled of beloved dogs.

Now that that grief's gone and others come
I come back again to understand
the first one, plum blossoms brushing
the attic window as I look out upon
a yard that has been left untended
by any hand but that of God.

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, October 24, 2016

Jan Kochanowski

Jan Kochanowski (1530—1584) is a Polish poet, and the most important Slavic poet before the 19th century. He wrote in both Latin and Polish, significantly influencing verse forms in Polish for generations. The best-known edition of his collected works is the jubilee publication, which appeared in Warsaw in 1884. He also wrote a highly respected translation of the Psalms.

His masterpiece is Laments (1580) — a series of 19 elegies on the death of his two and a half year old daughter Urszula. The following comes from the 1995 translation by Stanisław Barańczak and Seamus Heaney.

Lament 18

My Lord, each of us is your wilful child:
By happiness beguiled,
Entranced by earthly joys,
He soon forgets you and heeds not your voice.

We fail to see how much your Grace attends
Our welfare; which soon ends
When your infinite Good
Is not repaid with infinite gratitude.

Rein us in, Lord, before vain pleasure blinds
Our supercilious minds!
Remind them of your cause
If not with blessings, then at least with blows!

Yet punish us as loving fathers do:
Your wrath would burn us through;
We'd vanish without trace
Like snow when warmed by the sun's piercing rays.

Oh, let your hand not crush those in discord
With you, Eternal Lord;
You hurt us to the core
With your mere frown: we could not withstand more.

Though fools claim you have never been man's friend,
Sooner the world may end
Than you shall ever scorn
A rebel soul, when broken and forlorn.

Great are my sins before you, Lord; yet still
Your mercy and goodwill
Would not let evil reign.
Have pity, Lord, on my despair and pain!

Thanks once more to Burl Horniachek for suggesting this, and other, poets.

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, October 17, 2016

Joseph Mary Plunkett

Joseph Mary Plunkett (1887—1916) is an Irish nationalist, poet and journalist. He was born to an affluent family, but one with republican views. He contracted tuberculosis at an early age, which affected his health right into adulthood.

He was one of the organizers of the Easter Uprising of 1916, and a signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. His plans were the ones primarily followed in the rebellion. Although the British government was focused on the war, they sent sufficient troops to quickly quell the uprising. On the morning of the day he was executed he married his fiancee, Grace Gifford, in the prison chapel.

For a short time he was the editor of the literary journal, The Irish Review, and was a co-founder of The Irish Theatre. His first poetry collection, The Circle and the Sword, appeared in 1911, and his second, The Poems of Joseph Mary Plunkett, appeared posthumously.

I see his blood upon the rose

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.
All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

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, October 10, 2016

W.H. Auden*

W.H. Auden (1907—1973) is one of the major poetic voices of the twentieth century. Born in York, England, he studied English at Oxford University. His first collection, Poems, was privately printed in 1928. A much more influential collection of the same name was published with the help of T.S. Eliot in 1930. His many honours include the 1948 Pulitzer Prize, The Bollingen Prize (1953) and the National Book Award (1956). Joseph Brodsky once said that Auden had "the greatest mind of the twentieth century".

Even through his years of professed atheism, Auden remained interested in Christianity. In 1940 he returned to the Anglican Church. Biographer Humphrey Carpenter said of Auden's transformation, "The last stage in his conversion had simply been a quiet and gradual decision to accept Christianity as a true premise. The experience had been undramatic, even rather dry."

Friday's Child

(In memory of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred at Flossenbürg, April 9, 1945)

He told us we were free to choose
But, children as we were, we thought—
"Paternal Love will only use
Force in the last resort

On those too bumptious to repent."
Accustomed to religious dread,
It never crossed our minds He meant
Exactly what He said.

Perhaps He frowns, perhaps He grieves,
But it seems idle to discuss
If anger or compassion leaves
The bigger bangs to us.

What reverence is rightly paid
To a Divinity so odd
He lets the Adam whom He made
Perform the Acts of God?

It might be jolly if we felt
Awe at this Universal Man
(When kings were local, people knelt);
Some try to, but who can?

The self-observed observing Mind
We meet when we observe at all
Is not alarming or unkind
But utterly banal.

Though instruments at Its command
Make wish and counterwish come true,
It clearly cannot understand
What It can clearly do.

Since the analogies are rot
Our senses based belief upon,
We have no means of learning what
Is really going on,

And must put up with having learned
All proofs or disproofs that we tender
Of His existence are returned
Unopened to the sender.

Now, did He really break the seal
And rise again? We dare not say;
But conscious unbelievers feel
Quite sure of Judgement Day.

Meanwhile, a silence on the cross,
As dead as we shall ever be,
Speaks of some total gain or loss,
And you and I are free

To guess from the insulted face
Just what Appearances He saves
By suffering in a public place
A death reserved for slaves.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about W.H. Auden: 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, October 3, 2016

Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier is a Canadian theologian and humanitarian who founded L'Arche — an international Christian organization dedicated to providing for people with intellectual disabilities. It began in 1964, when he invited two men with disabilities into his home in Trosley-Breuil, France. Today, there are 147 L'Arche communities in 35 countries.

Jean Vanier has written more than 30 books, including the poetry collection Tears of Silence which was first published in 1991, and re-issued in an edition, featuring photographs by Jonathan Boulet-Groulx, to mark the 50th anniversary of L'Arche (2014, House of Ananasi).

He is a companion of the Order of Canada, has been named to France's Legion of Honour, and has received many honours including the £1.1 million Templeton Prize in 2015.

From Tears of Silence

i fear
----------the mysterious power of compassion
---------------i
---------------do not
---------------believe in it
because that implies having found myself
---------------that I no longer play
-------------------play a game
-------------------put on a mask — a personage
-------------------pretending to be
-------------------appearing
---------------but that i become myself
-------------------accepting my poverty
-------------------letting the Spirit breathe
----------------------------move
----------------------------live
----------------------------love
--------------------------------------in me
opening my being
--------------------(no fear)
to the delicate touch
of His hand that opens me
---------------but i fear
-------------------and wear my mask

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 26, 2016

Jane King

Jane King is a Saint Lucian poet, actor and theatre director. Her poetry collections include, Fellow Traveller which won the James Rodway Memorial Prize (awarded to her by Derek Walcott) and most-recently Performance Anxiety: New and Selected Poems (Peeple Tree, 2013). Her husband is the poet and playwright Kendal Hippolyte.

She is a Dean and senior lecturer in English at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in St Lucia. She has served as a judge and chairperson for the Commonwealth Writers Prize. She is also the founding director of Lighthouse Theatre Company in St Lucia.

Performers are Holy 2

It used to bother me when they said that God
made us to know him, love him and serve him.
It made our creation seem something of a whim
and it was difficult as a child to be overawed
by the concept of a being who needed so much laud.
A bit like the he-made-us-in-his-own-image thing
which seemed to justify so much bad seeing
because we all have somewhere a great need to be adored.

But walking down a brash Manhattan street one day
it occurred to me that the whole world is really a play.
God's into theatre, making all the scenes, casting
the roles, doing sets, lighting, costumes, in a lasting
whole. He needs us as an audience, needs comments from us.
Lord, I'm sorry that I was too slow. You are to be adored.

Posted with permission of the poet. Thanks to Burl Horniachek for suggesting this, and several other poets.

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 19, 2016

Tommaso Campanella

Tommaso Campanella (1568—1639) is an Italian philosopher, poet, and Dominican friar. He joined the Dominican order in 1583, but was arrested, tried and imprisoned for heresy when his Philosophy Demonstrated by the Senses (1591) was published. Later in Rome he was tried again, and, in 1596, had to renounce his heresy.

Campanella was a leader in a plot to overthrow Spanish rule in Calabria (Southwest Italy). He was arrested, taken to Naples, and tortured into confessing his involvement. To escape death, he feigned madness, and was sentenced to life in prison.

Among his best-known works is a utopia called The City of the Sun, which he wrote during his 27-year imprisonment. Under his ideal government private property, poverty and excessive wealth would not exist. He also wrote lyrical poetry, which is praised for its originality.

On Himself

Freed and chained, accompanied and alone,
screaming, quiet, I confuse the fierce crowd:
mad to the mortal eye of the lowly world,
wise to the divine Intellect of the celestial pole.
With wings clipped on earth, I fly to heaven
in sad flesh but of rejoicing soul;
and, if sometimes the heavy weight pulls me down,
my wings, though, lift me above the hard ground.
Dubious war makes virtues manifest.
Every other time is short compared to eternity,
and nothing is lighter than a welcome weight.
I wear the image of my love on my forehead,
assured of arriving blessed, on time,
where I may always be understood without speaking.

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 12, 2016

Eduard Mörike

Eduard Mörike (1804—1875) is a German poet and novelist. Encyclopedia Britannica describes him as "one of Germany's greatest lyric poets." He became a Lutheran pastor in 1834, but was unable to maintain his position due to ill-health. By 1851 he had become a professor of German Literature in Stuttgart, and was able to fulfill this role until his retirement in 1866.

His 1832 novel, Nolten the Painter, first brought him attention as a writer. He is also remembered for his humour—such as in Mozart on the Way to Prague—and his fairy tales—such as The Little Dried-Up Man. His poems, however, are his greatest literary contribution. Mörike's lyrics have been set to music as folk tunes, and for opera.

Ludwig Wittgenstein described Mörike to his teacher Bertrand Russell as, "really a great poet and his poems are among the best things we have..."

The following poem is translated by David Luke.

Divine Remembrance

All things were made by him
(John 1:3)

I saw a painting once, a wondrous work it was,
In a Carthusian monastery I know well.
Today again, my solitary mountain walk
High among rigid scattered rubble of wild rocks
Has brought its lively colours back before my mind.
Beside a stony chasm, edged with scanty green
Where, shaded by two palm-trees, goats that graze on this
Precipitous slope enjoy a meagre nourishment,
It shows the Christ-Child, seated there on barren stone;
A soft white fleece is cushion for his tender limbs.
A little less than childlike looks this lovely boy;
Hot summers (five of them he must have seen by now)
Have gently browned his healthy skin, his delicate cheeks,
His arms and legs which to the knees are covered by
A little yellow tunic, purple at the hem.
Out of his dark eyes glows a quiet inward fire,
Yet a strange nameless charm hovers about his lips.
An aged friendly shepherd, stooping over him,
Has given him a plaything curiously shaped,
A petrifact from the sea's depths. The boy has held
This wonder in his hand and looked at it,
And now his gaze seems startled, widened into thought,
Staring at me, yet actually objectless,
Piercing eternal distances of infinite time:
As if there flickered on his clouded brow a flash
of divine consciousness, an inkling that must fade,
In the same instant; and the Maker of the worlds,
The Word in the Beginning, as an earthly child at play,
Smiling and all unwitting, shows me His own work.

Thanks again to Burl Horniachek for suggesting this 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 5, 2016

Walter Wangerin Jr.

Walter Wangerin Jr. won the National Book Award for his first novel The Book of the Dun Cow (1978). He has since published more than thirty books, including the poetry collection A Miniature Cathedral and Other Poems (Harper & Row, 1987). His most-recent book is a memoir — Everlasting Is The Past (Rabbit Room Press).

The Book of the Dun Cow was inspired by a fable in Geoffery Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It has been adapted into a musical, which was produced as an Off-Broadway show in 2006. Wangerin has written two sequels The Book of Sorrows (1985) and Peace At Last (2013).

He is a Senior Research Professor at Valparaiso University in Indiana, where he has taught since 1991. Prior to this he served for 16 years as a Lutheran pastor in Evansville, Indiana.

The following poem first appeared in Ruminate.

The Bent World Broods

i.

Among the branches of the wild cherry
tent worms weave white stomachs
of fog and the hungry air

pouches
of visible digestion
consuming green life and the evening leaf

each worm unspindling
the filament which in the night
will draw it peristaltic back to its tent

ii.

Among the branches a white ganglion
writhes in
primitive thought

suspecting soon
a wrack of
metamorphosis

and this
a dysphagic
dying

iii.

Moths flying on an adipose of digested leaf
know nothing
of worms

nor worms
of
resurrection

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 29, 2016

John Wheelwright

John Wheelwright (1897—1940) is the author of three poetry collections. He was born into an elite Boston family. After his father had a mental breakdown, and committed suicide in 1912, Wheelwright converted from the traditional Unitarianism of his family, to become an Anglican. During his years at Harvard, however, he found himself clashing with church dogma, particularly in his socialism. In his activism, he showed sympathy for Marxism and Trotsky. Faith in Christ is an important theme throughout his poetry, such as in a series of poems about Thomas.

He made close connections with some major American poets of his day, such as E.E. Cummings whom he knew at Harvard. One of Wheelwright's best-known poems is "Fish Food" — an elegy at the death of his friend Hart Crane, who drowned himself by jumping off a steamship in the Gulf of Mexico.

At age 43 John Wheelwright was killed by a drunk driver. His Selected Poems were published in 1943, and his Collected Poems (New Directions) in 1972.

On a Rococo Crucifix

Guarded by bursts of glory, golden rays, —
Christ, when I see thee hanging there alone
In ivory upon an ebon throne;
Like Pan, pard-girded, chapleted with bays;
I kiss thy mouth, I see thee in a haze,
But not of tears, of heartbreak there is none ...
Is it, oh, Sufferer, my heart is stone?
Am I, in truth, the Judas who betrays?

To hang in shame above a gory knoll,
To die of scorn upon a splintered pole, —
This was not beautiful, I know, for thee ...
Would I have whispered upon Calvary,
"An interesting silhouette, there, see!"
While God groaned in the dark night of his soul?

Seed Pods

Where the small heads of violets
are shrunk to smaller skulls,
in meadows where the mind forgets
its bull fights and its bulls;
the dust of violet or rose
relinquishes its scent
and carries with it where it blows
a lessening remnant
of heresies in equipoise
and balanced argument
with which the mind would have refleshed
the flower's skeleton,
but that it found itself enmeshed
in the web of oblivion.
Therefore, when Gabriel sound the horn
and dust rise through the ground,
our flesh shall turn, on our last morn
fleshless as the horn's sound.

Thanks to Burl Horniachek for recommending this and other poets for Kingdom Poets!

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 22, 2016

Ambrose of Milan

Ambrose of Milan (339—397) was born in Gaul, and raised in Rome after the death of his father. He is known for his eloquent Latin writings, including sermons and hymns. He was a Roman governor, who had not yet even been baptized. In 374 the people of Milan surprisingly declared him to be their bishop.

The first important doctrine Ambrose supported is that Christ is fully God (as taught in the first verse of John's Gospel). Under his teaching Augustine of Hippo was converted and baptized. One unfortunate influence Ambrose had was to increase the veneration of relics. He introduced congregational singing in Milan to worship services.

Splendor Paternae Gloriae

Splendour of the Father’s glory,
bringing forth light from light,
light of light and source of brightness,
the brightening day of days,

and true Sun slide in,
gleaming with eternal brilliance,
and radiance of the Holy Spirit
pour into our senses.

With prayers let us also call the Father—
the Father of eternal glory,
the Father of mighty grace—
that he may remove the deceitful blame,

that he may shape our actions of vigour,
dullen the teeth of the grudging one,
favourably guide harsh occurrences,
bestow the grace of carrying things through,

guide the mind and rule it
with a chaste, faithful body;
may faith be inflamed with heat,
may it not know the poisons of fraud.

And may Christ be food for us,
and may faith be our drink;
happy, may we drink the sober
inebriation of the Spirit.

May this happy day come to pass,
may modesty exist as the dawn,
faith like the noonday,
and may the mind not know the dusk.

Dawn pulls the chariot,
may the complete dawn come,
the Son complete in the Father,
and the Father complete in the Word.

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 15, 2016

S. Trevor Francis

S. Trevor Francis (1834—1925) is best known for the hymn "O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus". He was a merchant, and a lay preacher who belonged to a Plymouth Brethren congregation in London. Ten of his hymns appeared in the Enlarged London Hymnbook of 1873. His book Gems from the Revised Version with Poems appeared in 1891.

Late in life he travelled to Canada, Australia, Palestine, and to Egypt and other parts of north Africa — where he heard many of the lyrics he had written sung in English and other languages. His posthumous collection O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, and Other Poems appeared in 1926 (Pickering & Inglis).

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
is the current of thy love —
leading onward, leading homeward,
to that glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus —
spread his praise from shore to shore!
How he loves us, ever loves us,
changes never, nevermore!
How he watches over his loved ones,
died to call them all his own;
how for them he's interceding,
watching o'er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
love of every love the best!
'Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
'tis a haven sweet of rest!
O, the deep, deep love of Jesus —
'tis heaven of heavens to me;
and it lifts me up to glory,
for it lifts me up to thee!

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 8, 2016

Daniel Berrigan

Daniel Berrigan (1921—2016) is a Jesuit priest and activist who, along with his brother Philip, spoke out as Christians against the Vietnam War. He is the author of more than 50 books, including several collections of poetry. He is the first priest to ever be on the FBI's "most wanted list", he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in 1971, and is that "radical priest" referred to in Paul Simon's song "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard". He was sentenced to three years in prison for burning 378 draft files, taken from a draft-board office in Cantonville, Maryland — and was released in 1972.

He died on April 30th at the age of 94. Berrigan is featured in the August 2016 issue of Sojourners. Jim Wallis, one of the writers honouring Daniel Berrigan in that issue, wrote:
-----"Here were some Christians who were saying and doing what I
-----thought the gospel said—and what nobody in my white evangelical
-----world was saying or doing. The witness of the Berrigans helped
-----keep my hope for faith from dying altogether. African-American
-----Christians fighting for justice and that 'Berrigan handful' of
-----Christians fighting for peace paved the way for my return to
-----faith."

The following poem is from Daniel Berrigan's book, And the Risen Bread: Selected Poems, 1957—1997 .

A Prayer to the Blessed Trinity

I'm locked into the sins of General Motors
My guts are in revolt at the culinary equivocations of General Foods
Hang over me like an evil shekinah, the missiles of General Electric.
Now we shall go from the Generals to the Particulars.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Let me shake your right hands in the above mentioned order
Unmoved Motor, Food for Thought, Electric One.
I like you better than your earthly idols.
You seem honest and clear-minded and reasonably resolved
To make good on your promise.
Please: owe it to yourselves not less than to us,
Warn your people: beware of adulterations.

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 1, 2016

Coventry Patmore

Coventry Patmore (1823—1896) was associated with the Pre-Raphelites including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Alice Meynell. He worked for the British Museum from 1846 to 1865.

His best-known work is the four-volume Angel in the House which presents an ideal of Victorian married life. Because ideas of what feminism should be have been much critiqued ever since, Patmore's popularity was short-lived. Even so, he expressed certain thoughts which should transcend fashion:
-----"Female and male God made the man,
-----His image is the whole not half;
-----And in our love we dimly scan
-----The love which is between himself."

Besides being a poet, he published work as an art critic.

To the Body

Creation’s and Creator’s crowning good;
Wall of infinitude;
Foundation of the sky,
In Heaven forecast
And longed for from eternity,
Though laid the last;
Reverberating dome,
Of music cunningly built home
Against the void and indolent disgrace
Of unresponsive space;
Little, sequestered pleasure-house
For God and for His Spouse;
Elaborately, yea, past conceiving, fair,
Since, from the graced decorum of the hair,
Even to the tingling, sweet
Soles of the simple, earth-confiding feet,
And from the inmost heart
Outwards unto the thin
Silk curtains of the skin,
Every least part
Astonished hears
And sweet replies to some like region of the spheres;
Formed for a dignity prophets but darkly name,
Lest shameless men cry ‘Shame!’
So rich with wealth concealed
That Heaven and Hell fight chiefly for this field;
Clinging to everything that pleases thee
With indefectible fidelity;
Alas, so true
To all thy friendships that no grace
Thee from thy sin can wholly disembrace;
Which thus ’bides with thee as the Jebusite,
That, maugre all God’s promises could do,
The chosen People never conquered quite;
Who therefore lived with them,
And that by formal truce and as of right,
In metropolitan Jerusalem.
For which false fealty
Thou needs must, for a season, lie
In the grave’s arms, foul and unshriven,
Albeit, in Heaven,
Thy crimson-throbbing Glow
Into its old abode aye pants to go,
And does with envy see
Enoch, Elijah, and the Lady, she
Who left the roses in her body’s lieu.
O, if the pleasures I have known in thee
But my poor faith’s poor first-fruits be,
What quintessential, keen, ethereal bliss
Then shall be his
Who has thy birth-time’s consecrating dew
For death’s sweet chrism retained,
Quick, tender, virginal, and unprofaned!

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, July 25, 2016

David Wright

David Wright is a poet born in central Illinois. He is the author of two poetry collections — the most recent of which is The Small Books of Bach (2014, Wipf and Stock). As an academic he has taught at University of Illinois, Wheaton College, and Richland Community College, and now teaches at Monmouth College — all of which are in Illinois.

He has also completed a book of hymns entitled A Field of Voices, with the music composed by James E. Clemens. The following poem is from his 2003 book, A Liturgy for Stones.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus

When the broken hearted spirit arrives, no one knows
how it enters the room, what to call the groaning ghost.

It could be flame, could be wind, could be song, or syllables
arcing on lips like sparks, arching tongues
to unfamiliar diction, speech so inarticulate and pure.

Wind, flame, words rush over us,
out of us, in a humiliating gush,
until the air bears the sounds of wings.

A dove hovers, trapped in our room,
its rounded, translucent blue head
dazed against the windows.

God is a small, brown-grey, beautiful bird
beating wings against unbreachable glass?

The comforter’s voice vibrates in the spirit-drunk:
Shut up and listen. Lift up the sash.

Let the dove loose, a flame to singe the streets and sky.

Let untamed language fall on a thousand unsuspecting tongues.

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, July 18, 2016

Geoffrey Hill*

Geoffrey Hill (1932—2016), who has been called Britain's greatest post-war poet, died on June 30th at his home in Cambridge, England. He had taught at Boston University for 18 years, and from 2010 to 2015 held the position of Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.

Rowan Williams recently wrote in The Guardian that Hill's poetry has
-----"a sheer fluency with sound that can appear in lyrical elegance,
-----grinding puns, carefully calculated shifts of tone or register,
-----[and] multilingual play. He speaks from deep inside his language.
-----The reader sees the ripple on the surface, puzzling, even
-----apparently arbitrary; but not the fathoms-down movement on the
-----seabed. To read with understanding, you have to join him down
-----there..."

He was knighted Sir Geoffrey Hill in 2012. Broken Hierarchies: Collected Poems 1952-2012 was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. His wife, Alice Goodman, is an Anglican Priest.

Tenebrae

He was so tired that he was scarcely able to hear a note of the songs: he felt imprisoned in a cold region where his brain was numb and his spirit was isolated.

1
Requite this angel whose
flushed and thirsting face
stoops to the sacrifice
out of which it arose.
This is the lord Eros
of grief who pities
no one; it is
Lazarus with his sores.

2
And you, who with your soft but searching voice
drew me out of the sleep where I was lost,
who held me near your heart that I might rest
confiding in the darkness of your choice:
possessed by you I chose to have no choice,
fulfilled in you I sought no further quest.
You keep me, now, in dread that quenches trust,
in desolation where my sins rejoice.
As I am passionate so you with pain
turn my desire; as you seem passionless
so I recoil from all that I would gain,
wounding myself upon forgetfulness,
false ecstasies, which you in truth sustain
as you sustain each item of your cross.

3
Veni Redemptor, but not in our time.
Christus Resurgens, quite out of this world.
‘Ave’ we cry; the echoes are returned.
Amor Carnalis is our dwelling-place.

4
O light of light, supreme delight;
grace on our lips to our disgrace.
Time roosts on all such golden wrists;
our leanness is our luxury.
Our love is what we love to have;
our faith is in our festivals.

5
Stupefying images of grief-in-dream,
succubae to my natural grief of heart,
cling to me, then; you who will not desert
your love nor lose him in some blank of time.
You come with all the licence of her name
to tell me you are mine. But you are not
and she is not. Can my own breath be hurt
by breathless shadows groaning in their game?
It can. The best societies of hell
acknowledge this, aroused by what they know:
consummate rage recaptured there in full
as faithfulness demands it, blow for blow,
and rectitude that mimics its own fall
reeling with sensual abstinence and woe.

6
This is the ash-pit of the lily-fire,
this is the questioning at the long tables,
this is true marriage of the self-in-self,
this is a raging solitude of desire,
this is the chorus of obscene consent,
this is a single voice of purest praise.

7
He wounds with ecstasy. All
the wounds are his own.
He wears the martyr’s crown.
He is the Lord of Misrule.
He is the Master of the Leaping Figures,
the motley factions.
Revelling in auguries
he is the Weeper of the Valedictions.

8
Music survives, composing her own sphere,
Angel of Tones, Medusa, Queen of the Air,
and when we would accost her with real cries
silver on silver thrills itself to ice.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Geoffrey Hill: 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, July 11, 2016

Diane Glancy

Diane Glancy is a Christian writer with a joint Cherokee and English/German family heritage. She is professor emerita at Macalester College. She has received many honours, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas, and the 2016 Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Her Christian faith and native heritage intersect within her writing.

In her book The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris says:
-----"I once had the great pleasure of hearing the poet Diane Glancy
-----astound a group of clergy...by saying that she loved Christianity
-----because it was a blood religion. People gasped in shock; I was
-----overjoyed, thinking, Hit 'em, Diane; hit 'em where they live...
-----Diane told the clergy that she appreciated the relation of the
-----Christian religion to words. "The creation came into being when
-----God spoke," she said, reminding us of Paul's belief that "faith
-----comes through hearing." Diane saw this regard for words as
-----connected not only to writing but to living. "You build a world
-----in what you say," she said. "Words — as I speak or write them —
-----make a path on which I walk."

Some of Glancy's recent publications include three novels from Wipf & Stock — Uprising of the Goats, One of Us and Ironic Witness — and her most-recent poetry collection Report to the Department of the Interior (2015, University of New Mexico Press).

How to Explain Christ to the Unsaved

An awkward cousin who could not get a date, and you didn't know anyone who would go out with him. Too dark and ruddy. Too swarthy and crazy in the eye. He had a slow walk you could out-pace. He was someone you thought you could outrun. But he could stop you dead with something he said. Or his voice could break into thunder. He was? Concerned. Preoccupied. You remember Crazy Horse with his eye on the next world. His horse with a mission too. Not just holy but knowing how to get down to it of late. No one else would come by or call, but this cowboy who rode a donkey and would end up wearing a briar or thorns, would hang around. Who was this prophet, this traveling man, this nomad born with animals who never seemed to connect? He was jovial as a penitentiary. He became a grandfather spirit, and his believers, Black Elks who saw into the sky. He was too tall, too lanky. He was not always at the table for his cabbage and rabbit. He was a loner. Atonement was never a group act but for the sheep and bullocks and rams, I suppose, over the burnt alters of old encampments. But he was self-possessed. A mean Jesus and the soldiers nailed him to a cross. He was in hell three days and brought out everyone who wanted to take a salt bath in his seas and peel off their mind and squeal to enter his kingdom he had just named, heaven. Now he sleeps, they taunt, but it may be the sleep Adam slept when a rib was taken for you know who, and if Christ sleeps, it is the sleep while the cross is taken from him, called, rib bone for a bride.

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, July 4, 2016

John Berryman*

John Berryman (1914—1972) is a major figure in late 20th century American poetry, and is particularly significant within the confessional school. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his collection 77 Dream Songs in 1964. Even after his conversion to Christian faith, he suffered from alcoholism and depression, which led to his suicide in 1972.

According to Paul Mariani, whose biography Dream Song: The Life of John Berryman appeared in 1990, Berryman experienced "a sudden and radical shift from a belief in a transcendent God ... to a belief in a God who cared for the individual fates of human beings and who even interceded for them."

Dwight Cramer has said about Berryman's first posthumous collection Delusions, Etc., which had been edited for publication prior to his death, "A religious faith never entirely defined accompanies Berryman's despair. It is a faith that invokes God as a protector but does not explore the Divine nature. It revolves less around God than around the poet's personal need for Him." This can be seen in the following poem, in how Berryman chooses what he wants to believe, and what he doesn't, and his emphasis on happiness, as opposed to a life of sacrifice and service.

The Facts & Issues

I really believe He’s here all over this room
in a motor hotel in Wallace Stevens’ town.
I admit it’s weird; and could–or could it?–not be so;
but frankly I don’t think there’s a molecular chance of that.
It doesn’t seem hypothesis. Thank heavens
millions agree with me, or mostly do,
and have done ages of our human time,
among whom were & still are some very sharp cookies.
I don’t exactly feel missionary about it,
though it’s very true I wonder if I should.
I regard the boys who don’t buy this as deluded.
Of course they regard me no doubt as deluded.
Okay with me! And not the hell with them
at all–no!–I feel dubious on Hell–
it’s here, all right, but elsewhere, after? Screw that,
I feel pretty sure that evil simply ends
for the doer (having wiped him out,
but the way, usually) where good goes on,
or good may drop dead too: I don’t think so:
I can’t say I have hopes in that department
myself, I lack ambition just just there,
I know that Presence says it’s mild, and it’s mild,
but being what I am I wouldn’t care
to dare go nearer. Happy to be here
and to have been here, with such lovely ones
so infinitely better, but to me
even in their suffering infinitely kind
& blessing. I am a greedy man, of course,
but I wouldn’t want that kind of luck continued,–
or even increased (for Christ’s sake), & forever?
Let me be clear about this. It is plain to me
Christ underwent man & treachery & socks
& lashes, thirst, exhaustion, the bit, for my pathetic & disgusting vices,
to make this filthy fact of particular, long-after,
faraway, five-foot-ten & moribund
human being happy. Well, he has!
I am so happy I could scream!
It’s enough! I can’t BEAR ANY MORE.
Let this be it. I’ve had it. I can’t wait.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about John Berryman: 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, June 27, 2016

Thomas Ken

Thomas Ken (1637—1711) is an English poet, best known for his hymns. He grew up in the home of his sister and her husband — the poet Izaak Walton — and was ordained an Anglican priest in 1662.

Thomas Ken served as royal chaplain to Charles II, and earned the king's respect by refusing to let the king's mistress stay in the chaplain's residence. This eventually led to his being appointed Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1685. In this role he wrote the book Prayers for the Use of All Persons who Come to the Baths for Cure (1692).

Along with several other bishops, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1688 for refusing to sign the "Declaration of Indulgence" which James II, the next monarch, presented in support of Catholicism.

Thomas Ken's collected poetical works were published in four volumes in 1721, and the book — Bishop Ken's Christian Year: Or Hymns and Poems for the Holy Days and Festivals of the Church — appeared in 1868. His best known lyric comes at the end of the following hymn, sung around the world as "The Doxology."

Glory to Thee, My God This Night

Glory to thee, my God, this night
For all the blessings of the light;
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath thy own almighty wings.

Forgive me, Lord, for thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done,
That with the world, myself, and thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.

Teach me to live, that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed;
Teach me to die, that so I may
Rise glorious at the awful day.

O may my soul on thee repose,
And with sweet sleep mine eyelids close,
Sleep that may me more vigorous make
To serve my God when I awake.

When in the night I sleepless lie,
My soul with heavenly thoughts supply;
Let no ill dreams disturb my rest,
No powers of darkness me molest.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise him, all creatures here below,
Praise him above, ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

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, June 20, 2016

Osip Mandelstam

Osip Mandelstam (1891—1938) is a Russian poet, described by Ilya Kaminsky as "Russian poetry's central figure in the twentieth century." In 1911 he converted to Lutheranism, some would argue because Jews were excluded from entering the University of Saint Petersburg. Translator Christian Wiman argues that it would have been far more advantageous for him to convert to Russian Orthodoxy, if his conversion had merely been a matter of convenience.

Mandelstam himself writes that:
-----"[Christian art] is an 'imitation of Christ' infinitely various in its
-----manifestations, an eternal return to the single creative act that
-----began our historical era. Christian art is free. It is, in the full
-----meaning of the phrase, 'Art for art's sake.' No necessity of any
-----kind, even the highest, clouds its bright inner freedom, for its
-----prototype, that which it imitates, is the very redemption of the
-----world by Christ. And so, not sacrifice, not redemption in art,
-----but the free and joyful imitation of Christ—that is the keystone
-----of Christian esthetics."

In the 1930s, he and his wife Nadezhda were arrested by Stalin's government and sent into internal exile. In 1938 he was arrested again, and sent into exile in Siberia, which led to his death.

The following poems are from Wiman's translations - Stolen Air: Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam.

Cathedral, Empty

When light, failing,
Falling

Through stained glass,
Liquifies

The long grass
At the feet of christ,

I crawl diabolical
To the foot of the cross

To sip the infinite
Tenderness

Distilled
From destroyed

Hearts:
An air of thriving

Hopelessness
Like a lone cypress

Holding on
To some airless

Annihilating height.

Prayer

Help me, Lord, this night my life to save.
Hold me, Lord, your servant, your slave.
Hear me, O Lord, alive in Petersburg, my grave.

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, June 13, 2016

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828—1882) is a painter and poet who was born in London to Italian expatriate parents. He is only one of the Rossettis to have left his mark: His father was renown as a Dante scholar, his brother William Michael Rossetti was an influential art critic, and his sister Christina Georgina Rossetti is one of the leading poets of the nineteenth century.

In 1848, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and some friends founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of British artists who valued "truth to nature" in painting through attention to minute details, and symbolic imagery.

In 1861 he achieved success with his book of translations The Early Italian Poets. When his young wife died in 1862, in his grief, he had the only complete manuscript of his own poetry buried with her. In 1869, they were retrieved from Highgate Cemetery

His Sonnet sequence, "The House of Life", from Ballads and Sonnets (1881) is considered by some to be his finest poetic achievement.

Sacramental Hymn

On a fair Sabbath day, when His banquet is spread,
It is pleasant to feast with my Lord:
His stewards stand robed at the foot and the head
Of the soul-filling, life-giving board.
All the guests here had burthens; but by the King's grant
We left them behind when we came;
The burthen of wealth and the burthen of want,
And even the burthen of shame.
And oh, when we take them again at the gate,
Though still we must bear them awhile,
Much smaller they'll seem in the lane that grows strait,
And much lighter to lift at the stile.
For that which is in us is life to the heart,
Is dew to the soles of the feet,
Fresh strength to the loins, giving ease from their smart,
Warmth in frost, and a breeze in the heat.
No feast where the belly alone hath its fill,—
He gives me His body and blood;
The blood and the body (I'll think of it still)
Of my Lord, which is Christ, which is God.

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, June 6, 2016

Jennifer Maier

Jennifer Maier is professor of English at Seattle Pacific University. She is the author of two poetry collections, the first of which — Dark Alphabet — won the Crab Orchard Review Series in Poetry First Book Award, and was named one of the Ten Remarkable Books of 2006 by the Academy of American Poets. In 2012 she received The Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award for her poem "fly" which is inspired by a line in a Dickinson poem.

Maier is an associate editor with Image. The following is from her second poetry collection Now, Now (2013, University of Pittsburgh Press).

Annunciation with Possum and Tomatoes

Faith in spring, is a fertile bed, the hope of things
unseen — summer, round in the hand; toil, expectancy, ripe
weight. Grace, for a possum, is another thing:
a sleeping dog, an open gate, five soft globes,

each bite, a new beginning. She ate them all,
but afterward I dreamed I saw a jungle of tomatoes
grown wild against the house, the fruit hanging fat, allegorical,
as the red canopy in Dieric Bouts's Annunciation,

in which the Virgin, surprised in her bedchamber,
looks up from her book, as the Flemish angel, plain
and reliable as a school nurse, calmly delivers the news.
His right finger points up at the Father,

or at the tomato-shaped folds of the drapery, as he explains
about the fruit of the womb, how it will ripen and spill
to repair the blight in the garden, the one that begot death
and beauty in turn, having first made thieves of us all.

Bouts's Holland would not taste tomatoes for another century;
the plague was swallowing citizens left and right,
but the good people of Haarlem still donned their peasant
leggings and took to the field. Perhaps the ploughman,

framed moments ago in the Gothic arch of the Virgin's window,
has set down his rake and is resting in the shade of a tree,
thinking about the fall and its hungers, and about himself,
kin to all mortal creatures, the ones who sow, and the ones

who plunder after them, who wake famished in the night,
all furred appetite, dreaming of a fruit they have never known:
flesh and seed, crotch and vine, its taste in the mouth sharp
as the known world, delectable as Eden.

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, May 30, 2016

John Clare

John Clare (1793—1864) is known as the "Peasant Poet", because his parents were illiterate, and his father a farm labourer. He is known for poems praising the natural world and God as creator. His 1820 book, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, carried him from obscurity to the attention of London literary society. For a time his work even outsold that of his contemporary John Keats.

As may be sensed in the following poem, he suffered from depression and even delusions, which eventually confined him to an asylum for the final 26 years of his life.

His poetry soon slipped into obscurity; however in recent years, the admiration of poets such as Dylan Thomas, Ted Hughes, John Ashbery, and Seamus Heaney has helped to restore his reputation. He is now considered by many to be one of the most important poets of the 19th century.

I Am!

I am — yet what I am none cares or knows;
My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
I am the self-consumer of my woes —
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
And yet I am, and live — like vapours tossed

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
Even the dearest that I loved the best
Are strange — nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below — above the vaulted sky.

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, May 23, 2016

Theophilus Kwek

Theophilus Kwek is a poet from Singapore who is currently a student at Merton College, Oxford, and served as the President of the Oxford University Poetry Society. Despite his youth, he has published three collections. The first two are: They Speak Only Our Mother Tongue (2011) and Circle Line (2013). He won the Martin Starkie Prize for poetry in 2014, and the Jane Martin Poetry Prize in 2015 from Girton College in Cambridge.

Many of the Bible stories he regularly heard as a child have found their way into his poetry. Kwek has participated in readings with other Christian poets in Singapore. His third book Giving Ground (2016) has just appeared from Ethos Books (Singapore). He also won the New Poets' Prize in 2016. This post was suggested to me by Singapore poet Aaron Lee.

Magdalene

For days afterwards late Spring took its course.
A north wind came through the window-slats
and plovers returned to walk on water.
In the shorter shadows the city’s groves
filled out with leaves, promised black olives
as clouds wept and bowed over the temple.
We broke bread on the roof. Said fumbling prayers
to keep the hours, returned to usual squares,
gathered each evening in our knit circles.
It was all we could do to live, despite
the wanting the waiting or the altered light
of that once-opened sky, blue as a miracle.
In time we grew acquainted with the weight
of wonder, thought less of the mystery of things,
thought them more believable. Some went back
to Galilee. Others made for other seas,
nets and fresh tackle. I watched them leave,
then stood alone in the tug of wild hyssop
at the city’s sleeve, strong as love or the facts
of being known: brief night, the lightness of stone.

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, May 16, 2016

Czeslaw Milosz*

Czeslaw Milosz (1911—2004) is a Polish poet who during WWII participated in the underground resistance in Warsaw against both the Nazis and the Soviets, writing and editing books. His faith was severely challenged in the face of all the horrors he witnessed, and yet remained strong. Once he'd escaped from the oppressive communist regime that gripped his homeland, he lived in the United States from 1960 until his death; he continued to write in Polish, and then participated in its translation into English. He received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1980.

Joseph Brodsky wrote, "I have no hesitation whatsoever in stating that Czeslaw Milosz is one of the greatest poets of our time, perhaps the greatest." The following poem is from Second Space — the last book he published before his death.

Hear Me

Hear me, Lord, for I am a sinner, which means I have nothing except
prayer.

Protect me from the day of dryness and impotence.

When neither a swallow’s flight nor peonies, daffodils and irises
in the flower market are a sign of Your glory.

When I will be surrounded by scoffers and unable, against their
arguments, to remember any miracle of Yours.

When I will seem to myself an impostor and swindler because I take
part in religious rites.

When I will accuse You of establishing the universal law of death.

When I am ready at last to bow down to nothingness and call life
on earth a devil’s vaudeville.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Czeslaw Milosz: 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, May 9, 2016

Lionel Johnson

Lionel Johnson (1867—1902) is a poet and literary critic, born in England to a family that thought of itself as Irish. He converted to Catholicism in 1891 after having graduated from Oxford the previous year.

He lived in London, and was a member of The Rhymers' Club. His close friend, William Butler Yeats, described the best of Johnson's poetry as "immortal". He struggled against alcoholism, and died of a stroke, after a fall in the street where he fractured his skull.

Johnson's Poetical Works were edited by Ezra Pound in 1915, and The Religious Poems of Lionel Johnson appeared in 1916.

The Darkness

Master of spirits! hear me: King of souls!
I kneel before Thine altar, the long night,
Besieging Thee with penetrable prayers;
And all I ask, light from the Face of God.
Thy darkness Thou hast given me enough,
The dark clouds of Thine angry majesty:
Now give me light! I cannot always walk
Surely beneath the full and starless night.
Lighten me, fallen down, I know not where,
Save, to the shadows and the fear of death.
Thy Saints in light see light, and sing for joy:
Safe from the dark, safe from the dark and cold.
But from my dark comes only doubt of light:
Disloyalty, that trembles to despair.
Now bring me out of night, and with the sun
Clothe me, and crown me with Thy seven stars,
Thy spirits in the hollow of Thine hand.
Thou from the still throne of Thy tabernacle
Wilt come to me in glory, O Lord God!
Thou wilt, I doubt Thee not: I worship Thee
Before Thine holy altar, the long night.
Else have I nothing in the world, but death:
Thine hounding winds rush by me day and night,
Thy seas roar in mine ears: I have no rest,
No peace, but am afflicted constantly,
Driven from wilderness to wilderness.
And yet Thou hast a perfect house of light,
Above the four great winds, an house of peace:
Its beauty of the crystal and the dew,
Guard Angels and Archangels, in their hands
The blade of a sword shaken. Thither bring
Thy servant: when the black night falls on me,
With bitter voices tempting in the gloom,
Send out Thine armies, flaming ministers,
And shine upon the night: for what I would,
I cannot, save these help me. O Lord God!
Now, when my prayers upon Thine altar lie,
When Thy dark anger is too hard for me:
Though vision of Thyself, through flying fire,
Have mercy, and give light, and stablish me!

Thanks to Burl Horniachek for suggesting Lionel Johnson for Kingdom Poets.

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.