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.