Monday, October 15, 2018

Joseph Seamon Cotter

Joseph Seamon Cotter (1861—1949) is the author of six books of poetry, including A White Song and a Black One (1909). He is also among the first black American playwrights to have their work published. Although he had received little formal education prior to adulthood, he became a grammar school teacher and principal — serving in Louisville schools for over fifty years. He was a close friend of the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Cotter and his wife had four children, including Joseph Seamon Cotter Jr. — a promising young poet, who died of tuberculosis at age 23.
Cotter’s Collected Poems appeared in 1938.

Sonnet To Negro Soldiers

They shall go down unto Life's Borderland,
Walk unafraid within that Living Hell,
Nor heed the driving rain of shot and shell
That 'round them falls; but with uplifted hand
Be one with mighty hosts, an arméd band
Against man's wrong to man—for such full well
They know. And from their trembling lips shall swell
A song of hope the world can understand.
All this to them shall be a glorious sign,
A glimmer of that resurrection morn,
When age-long Faith crowned with a grace benign
Shall rise and from their brows cast down the thorn
Of prejudice. E'en though through blood it be,
There breaks this day their dawn of Liberty.

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, October 8, 2018

Luis de León

Luis de León (1527—1591) is an Augustinian monk, and one of Spain’s greatest lyric poets. In 1560 he was appointed to the chair of theology at Salamanca. In 1546 the Council of Trent had declared the Latin translation known as the Vulgate to be the authentic text of the Bible. Because de León and others used Hebraic texts and the Septuagint, by 1572 he was arrested and accused of heresy by the Inquisition. Although he escaped punishment, he was hounded by them again in 1582, because of his views concerning predestination.

He wrote commentaries on the books of Job, Obadiah, Galatians, and Song of Songs. He also wrote translations of selections from Virgil, Horace and the Psalms. His prose masterpiece The Names of Christ is, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, “the supreme exemplar of Spanish classical prose style”. It echoes themes also found in his poetry. In 1588 he prepared and published the first collected edition of the writings of Teresa of Ávila.

The following translation is by Willis Barnstone

On The Ascension

---Do you leave, shepherd saint,
your flock here in this valley, deep, obscure,
---in loneliness and plaint,
---and rise piercing the pure
high air–to that immortal refuge sure?

---Those who were formerly
lucky are melancholy and grieving too.
---You nourished them. Suddenly
---they are deprived of you.
Where can they go? What can they now turn to?

---What can those eyes regard
(which one time saw the beauty of your face)
---that is not sadly scarred?
---After your lips’ sweet grace
what can they hear that isn’t blunt and base?

---And this tumultuous sea,
Who can hold it in check? Who can abort
---The gale’s wild energy?
---If you’re a sealed report,
Then what North Star will guide our ship to port?

---O cloud, you envy us
Even brief joy! What pleasure do you find
---Fleeing, impetuous?
---How rich and unconfined
You go! How poor you leave us and how blind!

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, October 1, 2018

Tania Runyan*

Tania Runyan is the author of four poetry collections, including Second Sky (2013, Poiema Poetry Series) and her new book What Will Soon Take Place (2017, Paraclete Press). The former book focuses on the life and writing of the Apostle Paul, while the latter collection is inspired by the Book of Revelation. Luci Shaw endorses Runyan’s new book by saying, “This bold collection is stunning, with poems that reveal the visceral views of both the prophet and the writer.”

She has also written three nonfiction books: How To Read A Poem, How To Write A Poem, and — less exciting but very practical — How To Write A College Application Essay.

One of Runyan’s poems from Second Sky is the first poem to be posted on D.S. Martin’s new web-journal Poems For Ephesians which debuted this past week on the McMaster Divinity College website.

The following poem, which first appeared in The Christian Century is from What Will Soon Take Place.

Ephesus

I was in love with God for one afternoon.
Twenty, alone on a beach, I dropped rocks
by the edge and watched the ocean wash
gray into blue, brown into red. An hour
of my crunching steps, the clack of pebbles,
the water’s rippling response. Never mind
invisibility. We were the only ones, and I
so intoxicating—sand-blown hair,
denim cut-offs, no reason to believe
anyone’s faith could dissolve. My prayers
were as certain as the stones I threw,
the answers as sure as the cove’s blue floor.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Tania Runyan: first post, second post.

Posted with permission of the poet.

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.