Monday, May 13, 2019

Robert Herrick*

Robert Herrick (1591—1674) is the most significant of the poets from a group of dramatists and poets known as “Sons of Ben” — a tribute to the English poet Ben Jonson. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1623 after having graduated with his Masters degree from Cambridge University.

In 1592 his father fell from an upper storey window of their London home, which is suspected to have been a suicide. The desire for a father figure, partially fulfilled by Ben Jonson, shows itself throughout his verse.

Herrick’s only published book of poems is Hesperides: Or, The Works Both Humane & Divine (1648) — a collection of 1400 poems (many of which are just epigraphs). It includes a section entitled “His Noble Numbers,” which are his collected religious poems, and may have originally been intended to appear as a separate book.

In 1994 a memorial to Robert Herrick was unveiled in the new Poets' Corner window in Westminster Abbey.

Litany to the Holy Spirit

In the hour of my distress,
When temptations me oppress,
And when I my sins confess,
-----Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When I lie within my bed,
Sick in heart and sick in head,
And with doubts discomforted,
-----Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the house doth sigh and weep,
And the world is drowned in sleep,
Yet mine eyes the watch do keep,
-----Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the passing bell doth toll,
And the Furies in a shoal
Come to fright a parting soul,
-----Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the tapers now burn blue,
And the comforters are few,
And that number more than true,
-----Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the priest his last hath prayed,
And I nod to what is said,
'Cause my speech is now decayed,
-----Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When, God knows, I'm tossed about
Either with despair or doubt;
Yet before the glass be out,
-----Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the tempter me pursueth
With the sins of all my youth,
And half damns me with untruth,
-----Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the flames and hellish cries
Fright mine ears and fright mine eyes,
And all terrors me surprise,
-----Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

When the Judgment is revealed,
And that opened which was sealed,
When to Thee I have appealed,
-----Sweet Spirit, comfort me!

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Robert Herrick: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Les Murray*

Les Murray (1938—2019) is considered the leading Australian poet of his generation. His most-recent poetry collection, Waiting for the Past, won the Judith Wright Calanthe Award at the 2015 Queensland Literary Awards. This is just one more in a series of honours Les Murray has received, such as having Queen Elizabeth II present him with the Gold Medal for Poetry at Buckingham Palace in 1999. He died last Monday — April 29th — at age 80.

The late Derek Walcott once wrote of Murray’s poetry, “There is no poetry in the English language now so rooted in its sacredness, so broad-leafed in its pleasures, and yet so intimate and conversational.”

Murray is one of the poets featured in my anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry(available here) and through Amazon. He was very generous in helping me to obtain the various rights to use his poetry within various jurisdictions around the globe.

The following poem is from Waiting for the Past and first appeared in First Things.

Jesus Was A Healer

Jesus was a healer
never turned a patient down

never charged coin or conversion
started off with dust and spittle

then re-tuned lives to pattern
simply by his attention

often surprised himself a little
by his unbounded ability

Jesus was a healer
reattached his captor’s ear

opened senses, unjammed cripples
sent pigs to drown delirium

cured a shy tug at his hem
learned to transmit resurrection

could have stood more Thank You
for God’s sake, which was his own

Jesus was a healer
keep this quiet, he would mutter

to his learners. Copy me
and they did to a degree

still depicted on church walls
cure without treatment or rehearsals.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Les Murray: first post, second post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Hugo von Hofmannstal

Hugo von Hofmannstal (1874—1929) is an Austrian poet, playwright and librettist. When he was just 16, he began publishing remarkably advanced poetry, and became well-connected within Vienna’s literary community.

In 1911 he wrote his adaptation of the 15th century English morality play Everyman, which later became (and still is) a regular feature of the Salzburg Festival. George Sterling says, Hofmannstal “vivified and humanized” the play, adding powerfully to “the dramatic and emotional elements”.

He also worked with Richard Strauss, being the librettist for several of his operas including Elektra (1909) and Arabella (1933). During WWI he held a government post, but the end of the war also marked the end of the monarchy to which he had been dedicated. His latter plays increasingly reflect his Christian faith.

The following are the first lines spoken by God in Everyman, translated by George Sterling and Richard Ordynski.

From Everyman

O men! vile men! how long shall I endure
The hardness of your hearts? Forgetting Me,
Dreading Me not, ye live the lives of beasts.
Basely sin-soaked, blind to My light and law.
And know Me not your God. The world alone
Enthralls you. Heavenly things beget your scorn.
The bond between My majesty and you
Ye have forgotten that I gave My blood.
Dying upon the Tree that men might live,
That I was nailed upon a martyr's cross,
That cruel thorns were woven for my crown,
That I gave all to you. Now all my laws
Ye break. But swiftly shall my judgment come
On sinful man. Unerring messenger!
Stand forth! I have a journey for thee, Death.

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, April 22, 2019

Elizabeth Rooney

Elizabeth Rooney (1924—1999) is a poet who grew up on a farm in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin. It is the same farm where the Cave of the Mounds was discovered in 1939 — an attraction well-known throughout Wisconsin. While raising their children she and her husband Mike lived in New York State, where she worked as an employment councillor. Years later, she returned to the Blue Mounds farm to run the Cave of the Mounds National Natural Landmark — a tourist site.

She didn’t begin writing poems until 1978; on a retreat with a group of Episcopal lay women called The Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, she felt a call from God. Over the next two decades she wrote over 700 poems.

In a letter to Luci Shaw, she once described what inspiration for her poems was like: "Mine seems to come like butterflies, and I try to net them and get them on paper without knocking too many bright bits of color off their wings."

The following poem was written in 1981, and is available in her book Morning Song.

Openings

Now is the shining fabric of our day
Torn open, flung apart,
Rent wide by Love.
Never again
The tight, enclosing sky,
The blue bowl,
Or the star-illumined tent.
We are laid open to infinity,
For Easter Love
Has burst His tomb and ours.
Now nothing shelters us
From God's desire —
Not flesh, not sky,
Not stars, not even sin.
Now Glory waits
So He can enter in.
Now does the dance begin.

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, April 15, 2019

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869—1935) is an American poet who began his career publishing with a vanity press and receiving little attention.

In response to a critique of his first book, where he was accused of having the bleak view that our world is a prison, Robinson replied, “The world is not a prison house, but a kind of spiritual kindergarten, where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell God with the wrong blocks.”

In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt’s son, Kermit, brought Robinson to his father’s attention. President Roosevelt convinced Charles Scribner's Sons to republish Robinson’s second book, The Children of the Night, and reviewed it himself.

In his poem “The Children of the Night” he says:
-----“For those that never know the light,
-----The darkness is a sullen thing…”
After which the poet poses erroneous views — such as that this life is all there is, that God is a lie, or that there is only chaos — which God will respond to in love:
-----“…God counts it for a soul gone mad,
-----And if God be God, He is just…”
The poet concludes the poem:
-----“...Let us, the Children of the Night,
-----Put off the cloak that hides the scar!
-----Let us be Children of the Light,
-----And tell the ages what we are!”

The following poem is from the same book.

Calvary

Friendless and faint, with martyred steps and slow,
Faint for the flesh, but for the spirit free,
Stung by the mob that came to see the show,
The Master toiled along to Calvary;
We gibed him, as he went, with houndish glee,
Till his dimmed eyes for us did overflow;
We cursed his vengeless hands thrice wretchedly, —
And this was nineteen hundred years ago.

But after nineteen hundred years the shame
Still clings, and we have not made good the loss
That outraged faith has entered in his name.
Ah, when shall come love's courage to be strong!
Tell me, O Lord — tell me, O Lord, how long
Are we to keep Christ writhing on the cross!

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, April 8, 2019

Marie J. Post

Marie J. Post (1919—1990) is a Michigan poet, a graduate of Calvin College, and a former teacher of junior high students. Her poems regularly appeared in The Grand Rapids Post, and in The Banner. A number of her own original hymns appear in the Christian Reformed Church’s Psalter Hymnal.

Her collection, I Had Never Visited an Artist Before and Other Poems (Being Press) appeared in 1973, followed by a book of poems focussing on the Apostle Peter — Sandals, Sails & Saints (1993). Some of her poems were also included in Luci Shaw’s anthology of incarnation poems, A Widening Light — which originally appeared in 1984, and has been reissued by Regent College Press.

Palm Sunday

Astride the colt and claimed as King
that Sunday morning in the spring,
he passed a thornbush flowering red
that one would plait to crown his head.

He passed a vineyard where the wine
was grown for men of royal line
and where the dregs were also brewed
into a gall for Calvary’s rood.

A purple robe was cast his way,
then caught and kept until that day
when, with its use, a trial would be
profaned into a mockery.

His entourage was forced to wait
to let a timber through the gate,
a shaft that all there might have known
would be an altar and a throne.

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, April 1, 2019

Guido Guinizelli

Guido Guinizelli (c. 1230—1276) is an Italian poet; he became a judge in his native city of Bologna, but in 1274 was exiled. Guinizelli transformed what he had learned from the Provençal poets, and became a significant influence on such Italian poets of the following generation, as Guido Cavalcanti and Dante Alighieri.

His poetic theme is romantic love — particularly from the perspective of an unsuccessful suitor — with the acknowledgement that love is of God. “Guinizelli's poetry can be briefly described as a conciliation between divine and earthly love with deep psychological introspection.”

In the following selection — translated by Robert Edwards — he expresses the sadness of his unrequited love to his Lord. Later in the poem, he imagines himself before the judgement of God, who reproaches the poet’s preoccupation with the lady: “All praises are due to me alone”. The poet lamely replies, “She had the likeness / Of an angel from your kingdom. / It’s not my fault I fell in love with her.” His lines are likely to flatter the woman, but his excuse doesn’t even seem to convince himself. I suspect he wants us to see through his defence, so we will be cautious of how much devotion we give to anything besides God.

from Lady, love compels me

I’m driven to paint the air
Since I’ve been led to this end:
I toil and I gain nothing.
Alas, that I was given to this!
Love has led me to this end:
I am the saddest of all men.
Oh, Lord Jesus Christ,
Was I the only person born
To be in love forever?
Since my lady has seen it,
It’s better that I should die at once:
Perhaps she will feel compassion.

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, March 25, 2019

Clement of Rome

Clement of Rome was a first century convert to Christianity, and may even be the one mentioned in Paul’s epistle to the Philippians as one of the co-workers whose names are in the Book of Life.

Either way, he knew both Peter and Paul, and was a leader in the church at Rome. The present-day Church of San Clemente in Rome is believed to have been built over his house. He was martyred in 101 AD in Greece by — according to tradition — being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea.

He wrote a letter to the church at Corinth, which is considered to be the earliest piece of post-New Testament Christian writing that we have.

The following prayer appears at the close of Clement’s letter to the Corinthians.

Benediction

May God, who sees all things,
and who is the Ruler of all spirits
and the Lord of all flesh —
who chose our Lord Jesus Christ
and us through Him
to be a peculiar people —
grant to every soul that calls
on His glorious and holy Name,
faith, fear, peace, patience,
long-suffering, self-control,
purity, and sobriety,
to the well-pleasing of His Name,
through our High Priest and Protector,
Jesus Christ, by whom be to Him glory,
and majesty, and power, and honor,
both now and forevermore. Amen.

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, March 18, 2019

Moses

Moses is one of most-significant figures of the Old Testament — prophet, leader, law-giver and intercessor with God himself. He was born in Egypt, and is the only major biblical character to have never, in his lifetime, set foot in the land of Israel. He, along with Elijah, was transfigured with Christ on Mount Tabor (Matthew 17) — signifying the continuity of the law and the prophets, through to the coming of Jesus. The first five books of the Bible are attributed to Moses (although it seems unlikely that he wrote the account in Exodus of his own death).

The following is the only psalm attributed to Moses, and is given here in the New King James Version.

Psalm 90

A Prayer of Moses the man of God.


Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

You turn man to destruction,
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.
You carry them away like a flood;
They are like a sleep.
In the morning they are like grass which grows up:
In the morning it flourishes and grows up;
In the evening it is cut down and withers.

For we have been consumed by Your anger,
And by Your wrath we are terrified.
You have set our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;
We finish our years like a sigh.
The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Return, O LORD!
How long?
And have compassion on Your servants.
Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.

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, March 11, 2019

Diane Glancy*

Diane Glancy is a poet of mixed heritage. Early in life she chose to be identified, with her father, as a Cherokee Native American. She has written extensively as a novelist, playwright, and nonfiction writer. As a poet she has published twenty titles — including both chapbooks and full-length collections. Glancy has received many awards including a Minnesota Book Award, an American Book Award, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, and an Oklahoma Book Award.

In her new collection, The Book of Bearings, she takes on the confusion and conflict implicit in the collision of cultures that happened when Europeans began settling in North America. I am honoured to be the editor of this new collection for Cascade’s Poiema Poetry Series.

Glancy’s poetry has appeared in such journals as American Poetry Review, Image, New England Review, and in the anthology Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

The following poem first appeared in Caliban Online Journal, and is from The Book of Bearings.

St. Bo-gast-ah’s Confession to God in Later Years

All this—the Lord made me understand in writing—
I Chronicles 28:19


It was a daily fog.
Sometimes I cannot get off the floor.
I am a slug that moves across the step
leaving a silver trail.
To know there was a bright light from within.
To know it even in the darkness.

Have mercy on the uprooted.
On the unwanted.
On the made-over to fit somehow.
You reform us, Lord.
You yourself were remade to a man struggling
on the cross.
You were thought odd.
You were dismissed.
In that we are one.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Diane Glancy: first 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.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Paul Willis*

Paul J. Willis has been a professor at Westmount College for thirty years, and is the former Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara, California. He has had two recent experiences as an Artist-in-Residence in the North Cascade Mountains; these have been a significant influence on his two most-recent poetry collections — Deer at Twilight (2018, Stephen F. Austin State University Press) and Little Rhymes For Lowly Plants (2019, Kelsay Books).

As the title of his new book indicates, he has been recently drawn into formally-structured poetry, and has unpretentiously chosen to focus on what he’s found around his feet. There is also a section in this book about matters of faith — including five poems that previously appeared in my anthology Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

He has now published six collections of poetry, including Say This Prayer Into The Past (2013, Poiema Poetry Series). The following poem is from Little Rhymes For Lowly Plants.

Here and There

-----(Platanus racemose)

The ivory of sycamore
in the winter morning sun
for just an hour. But what a shine.

We too stand up illuminated,
in the valley of the shadow,
losing leaves, and that’s a sign

our roots are meant for higher ground;
though we may grow as splendid oak,
bay, sycamore, we sigh and pine.

—Los Padres National Forest

*This is the fourth Kingdom Poets post about Paul Willis: first post second post, third 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.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Thomas Dekker

Thomas Dekker (1572—1632) is a contemporary of Shakespeare who wrote prolifically — particularly as a playwright. He collaborated on plays with Ben Jonson — both before and after they had written mocking portrayals of each other for the London stage. Dekker’s most famous play, The Shoemaker’s Holiday (1599), a rowdy comedy of life in London, is still performed today. He was also very active as a pamphleteer, taking on such topics as the London Plague of 1603, and the Gunpowder Plot.

Paul McCartney borrowed from Dekker the following lines, almost unaltered, and set them to music, without acknowledging their source for The Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road.
-----Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
-----Smiles awake you when you rise;
-----Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry,
-----And I will sing a lullaby...

Although Dekker was not particularly known as a religious man, C.S. Lewis recognized the root of the line, “All life is but a wandering to find home” — from the play The Witch of Edmonton — as an “exposition of medieval Christian doctrine.”

The following comes from Robert Hudson’s 2017 edition of Dekker’s Four Birds of Noah’s Ark — a prayer book, rather than a poetry book. Even so, these prayers are expressed in poetic lines, which speak eloquently in metaphor and echoing rhythms, very much like the Psalms. Hudson has annotated the prayers and modernized the language, without robbing Dekker’s prayers of their music.

A Prayer For The City

[Luke 19:41-44]

O Father of mercy, look down upon this city not
-----with an eye of justice, for no flesh
-----is righteous in your sight, but behold this,
-----your sanctuary, as your Son beheld Jerusalem.
Set, O Lord, a host of angels at the gates,
-----and let truth spread her banner on the walls.
-----Let not the arrow of the invader fall
-----upon our houses by day nor the sword
-----of the strong man smite us by night.
Give wisdom, O Lord, to the rulers of this city,
-----zeal to the preachers, and holiness of life
-----to the inhabitants. Let the tree of your gospel,
-----which for so many years has flourished here,
-----still spread into large branches, and may
-----those branches bear an abundance of lively fruit.
Save, O Lord, this temple of yours; bless it, defend it,
-----crown it with honors so that it may outshine
-----all the cities in the world
-----in goodness as it does in greatness. Amen.

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, February 18, 2019

Alexander Pope*

Alexander Pope (1688—1744) is a British poet known for his long and satirical poems — such as The Rape of the Lock (1714) and The Dunciad (1728). He was highly influenced by John Dryden, and is said to have perfected Dryden’s technique of rhymed couplets.

He is considered to be the first full-time self-supporting English writer, which came about through selling subscriptions to editions of his translations of Homer, and his editions of Shakespeare.

In his poem An Essay on Man (1733) Pope presents, as The Poetry Foundation puts it, “an aesthetic and philosophical argument for the existence of order in the world, contending that we know the world to be unified because God created it.”

Prayer of Saint Francis Xavier

Thou art my God, sole object of my love;
Not for the hope of endless joys above;
Nor for the fear of endless pains below,
Which they who love thee not must undergo.

For me, and such as me, thou deign'st to bear
An ignominious cross, the nails, the spear:
A thorny crown transpierc'd thy sacred brow,
While bloody sweats from ev'ry member flow.

For me in tortures thou resignd'st thy breath,
Embrac'd me on the cross, and sav'd me by thy death.
And can these sufferings fail my heart to move?
What but thyself can now deserve my love?

Such as then was, and is, thy love to me,
Such is, and shall be still, my love to thee —
To thee, Redeemer! mercy's sacred spring!
My God, my Father, Maker, and my King!

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Alexander Pope: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, February 11, 2019

George Moses Horton

George Moses Horton (1797—1884) is a North Carolina poet who was a slave. He was born on the plantation of William Horton, where he taught himself to read, although he could not write. He composed poems in his mind, and then recited them to others.

His first book The Hope of Liberty was published in 1829 after his master had permitted him to visit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where students encouraged his poetry, and where a professor’s wife tutored and assisted him. This made him the first black author in the South to publish a book. His hope had been to earn enough from his poetry to secure his freedom, but this was not the case. He wrote two further books of poetry: Poetical Works (1845) and Naked Genius (1865).

He wrote many poems of Christian faith, such as: “On the Truth of the Saviour” which includes the lines:
-----Behold the storms at his rebuke,
-----All calm upon the sea—
-----How can we for another look,
-----When none can work as he?

George Moses Horton served in the Union army during the American Civil War; after the war he moved to Philadelphia, where he lived until his death.

On The Conversion of a Sister

'Tis the voice of my sister at home,
Resigned to the treasures above,
Inviting the strangers to come,
And feast at the banquet of love.

'Tis a spirit cut loose from its chain,
'Tis the voice of a culprit forgiven,
Restored from a prison of pain,
With the sound of a concert from heaven.

'Tis a beam from the regions of light,
A touch of beatific fire;
A spirit exulting for flight,
With a strong and impatient desire.

'Tis a drop from the ocean of love,
A foretaste of pleasures to come,
Distilled from the fountain above,
The joy which awaits her at home.

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, February 4, 2019

Philip C. Kolin*

Philip C. Kolin is the Distinguished Professor of English (Emeritus) at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a very prolific writer, having authored more than 40 books. He has also published numerous poetry collections including Departures (2014, Negative Capability), Benedict’s Daughter (2017, Resource Publications), and his newly-released Reaching Forever (Poiema Poetry Series).

It has been my privilege to work with Philip C. Kolin as the editor for this new book. I have also included one of his poems on my new web-journal Poems For Ephesians, which is on the McMaster Divinity College website.

Kolin is very active in the literary world, having, for example, recently co-edited a collection of poems about the Mississippi River for Louisiana Literature Press entitled Down to the Dark River. He is also the editor of the Southern Quarterly.

The following poem first appeared in America, and is from Reaching Forever.

When God Arrives

Let your eyes write
new tears for a pilgrimage
to a place you cannot see.

But wait
for the thick darkness.
That is when he will call

for you. Till then
quiver your soul.
Don’t think about

being made in his image.
You will only be looking
into a dark mirror.

He lives in infinity, and his voice is
an octave higher than silence.
His words thrum

through the clouds.
He whispers fire and speaks
in endless vowels.

He comes with a river bird
asperging feathers.
Pray for the sky that absorbs

evaporating continents
and black-plumed sins.
As his train goes by,

you realize you do not
have to wear
your body anymore.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Philip C. Kolin: first 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.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Horatio Gates Spafford

Horatio Gates Spafford (1828—1888) is famous for penning the words to the famous hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” which Philip Bliss later put to music. Spafford and his wife were close friends and supporters of the evangelist Dwight L. Moody. His booklet Waiting For The Morning and Other Poems was published by H.F. Revell (Chicago) in 1878.

Spafford’s tragic story is almost as well-known as the hymn. In 1873, his wife and four daughters were crossing the Atlantic aboard the steamship SS Ville de Havre when it collided with another vessel. Spafford’s wife, Anna, survived, but all four girls perished. According to another daughter who was born after this event, Horatio Spafford wrote the first four stanzas of “It Is Well With My Soul” on his ocean journey to meet his wife in England. The place where their daughters drowned was shown to him, which for us gives even greater power to the simile in the second line.

After returning to Chicago, the Spaffords became preoccupied with views that were inconsistent with those of their Presbyterian community. They left their church and held prayer meetings in their home. In 1881 they moved to Jerusalem to establish The American Colony there.

It Is Well With My Soul


When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

(Refrain:) It is well (it is well),
with my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
(Refrain)

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
(Refrain)

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pain shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
(Refrain)

And Lord haste the day, when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
(Refrain)

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, January 21, 2019

Mary Oliver*

Mary Oliver (1935—2019) is one of the best-selling contemporary poets in the United States. Her poems are far more often about the natural world — about birds and trees and marshes — than about people; even so she has written many poems about Jesus, and about Christian faith. Her style is accessible, and earnest. She once said in an interview, "One thing I do know is that poetry, to be understood, must be clear. It mustn't be fancy." She died of lymphoma on Thursday (January 17th).

Jewish Rabbi Jeffery Salkin wrote on the day of her passing, “Mary Oliver rejects logical explanation. She leaves room for uncertainty; in fact, she embraces it.” He quotes from one of her recent poems:
-----“I have refused to live
-----locked in the orderly house of
-----reasons and proofs.
-----The world I live in and believe in
-----is wider than that. And anyway,
-----what’s wrong with Maybe? ...”

The following poem was written much earlier.

Maybe

Sweet Jesus, talking
-----his melancholy madness,
----------stood up in the boat
---------------and the sea lay down,
silky and sorry.
-----So everybody was saved
----------that night.
---------------But you know how it is
when something
-----different crosses
----------the threshold — the uncles
---------------mutter together,
the women walk away,
-----the young brother begins
----------to sharpen his knife.
---------------Nobody knows what the soul is.
It comes and goes
-----like the wind over the water —
----------sometimes, for days,
---------------you don't think of it.
Maybe, after the sermon,
-----after the multitude was fed,
----------one or two of them felt
---------------the soul slip forth
like a tremor of pure sunlight
-----before exhaustion,
----------that wants to swallow everything,
---------------gripped their bones and left them
miserable and sleepy,
-----as they are now, forgetting
----------how the wind tore at the sails
---------------before he rose and talked to it —
tender and luminous and demanding
-----as he always was —
----------a thousand times more frightening
---------------than the killer storm.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Mary Oliver: first post, second post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Juan Ruiz

Juan Ruiz the Archpriest of Hita (c. 1283—c. 1350) is a Castilian poet and cleric, who wrote in his masterwork The Book of Good Love (1643) both verse about the spiritual love of God, and tales of men pursuing carnal love.

Little is known about the author, other than he was the Archpriest in the Spanish village of Hita, and that he was probably imprisoned, as his own work expresses.

The following poem was translated by Mack Singleton

Invocation

Oh God, Who Father art and Son, and likewise Spirit Holy,
Of Blessed Virgin Mother born [and gentle Maiden lowly]—
The strength send us Thy name to praise in canticle
-----and rhyme!
Our shield and mantle be Thou, Lord, [through years
-----and days of time]!

May He Who heaven fashion did, and earth contrive and sea,
His light and grace abiding send [a lowly sinner,] me!
From shining verses’ pleasant sheaf then book will I devise
That men who hear its measures may both gladdened be,
-----[and wise].

O Lord most high, my Savior dear, Who mankind wrought
-----[from dross],
On Archpriest-this, thy strength bestow [to bear his
-----dreary cross].
Then book of courtesy I’ll write shall men’s hearts
-----all refresh;
Their souls ‘twill bring some profit, and some healing to
-----their flesh.

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, January 7, 2019

Barbara Crooker*

Barbara Crooker is a Pennsylvania poet who has just had her eighth poetry collection, The Book of Kells, published, as part of the Poiema Poetry Series from Cascade Books. It is, of course, inspired by the ninth century manuscript of the four Gospels known as The Book of Kells: “Ireland's greatest cultural treasure and the world's most famous medieval manuscript.”

She received a writing fellowship at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, County Monaghan, Ireland. While in Ireland she meditated on pages of the Book of Kells in the Long Library, Trinity College, Dublin. She also remotely studied various pages which are now accessible online.

The Book of Kells is the second Barbara Crooker book I have been fortunate enough to edit with her. She has also had a poem recently appear in my new web-journal Poems For Ephesians, which is on the McMaster Divinity College website.

The following poem first appeared in Presence, and is from The Book of Kells.

Trinity College, the Book of Kells

10/19/13 page of the day: Portrait of St. John, folio 291v and 292r

In a dim room, the Gospel of John rises, pure gold
in the gloom: In the beginning was the word,
and the word was made flesh.
John’s seated
on a throne of ultramarine, haloed
in plaits of light. He’s my tribe, a scribe,
notebook in one hand, pen in the other. Around him,
tattooed in vellum, interlace knots, no beginning
or end. The more I stare in this darkness,
the less I see, patterns too small for my retinae,
these aging eyes. Made from pigments of verdigris,
orpiment, lampblack and woad, is it a vision,
or merely a dream? Metalwork or woven ribbons,
this is the universe recast as pattern, and I draw in
a breath, Word of God on my tongue.

*This is the third Kingdom Poets post about Barbara Crooker: 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.