Monday, December 27, 2021

John Beaumont

John Beaumont (1583―1627) is an English poet. He studied at Oxford, and settled at Grace-Dieu Priory in Leicestershire, England, in 1605 to manage his family’s estates after the death of his elder brother. His younger brother, Francis Beaumont, established himself as a dramatist.

One of Sir John Beaumont’s great achievements was the poem in twelve books The Crown of Thorns, which he worked on for many years, although it was never published. The poem was much admired by those who read it; the manuscript was believed to be lost, until quite recently when it was discovered in the British Library, and identified as Beaumont’s.

His other books include The Metamorphosis of Tobacco (1602), and Bosworth Field (1629). He helped establish the heroic couplet as a common form in English poetry. Through court connections he was made a baronet in January 1626.

Of The Epiphany

Fair eastern star, that art ordained to run
Before the sages to the rising sun,
Here cease thy course, and wonder that the cloud
Of this poor stable can thy Maker shroud:
Ye heavenly bodies glory to be bright,
And are esteemed as ye are rich in light;
But here on earth is taught a different way,
Since under this low roof the Highest lay;
Jerusalem erects her stately towers,
Displays her windows, and adorns her bowers:
Yet there thou must not cast a trembling spark—
Let Herod’s palace still continue dark.
Each school and synagogue thy force repels,
There pride, enthroned in misty errors, dwells;
The temple where the priests maintain their quire
Shall taste no beam of thy celestial fire.
While this weak cottage all thy splendour takes,
A joyful gate of every chink it makes.
Here shines no golden roof, no ivory stair,
No king exalted in a stately chair,
Girt with attendants, or by heralds styled;
But straw and hay enwrap a speechless child.
Yet Sabæ’s lords before this babe unfold
Their treasures, offering incense, myrrh, and gold.
The crib becomes an altar; therefore dies,
Nor ox nor sheep, for in their fodder lies
The Prince of Peace, who, thankful for his bed,
Destroys those rites in which their blood was shed:
The quintessence of earth, he takes and fees,
And precious gums distilled from weeping trees;
Rich metals and sweet odours now declare
The glorious blessings which his laws prepare:
To clear us from the base and loathsome flood
Of sense, and make us fit for angels’ food;
Who lift to God for us the holy smoke
Of fervent prayers, with which we him invoke,
And try our actions in that searching fire
By which the seraphims our lips inspire.
No muddy dross pure minerals shall infect,
We shall exhale our vapours up direct:
No storms shall cross, nor glittering lights deface,
Perpetual sighs, which seek a happy place.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock.

Monday, December 20, 2021

John Banister Tabb

John Banister Tabb (1845―1909) is a Virginia-born poet. He served in the Confederate army, and was imprisoned by the Union army for eight months. In 1884 he was ordained as a priest. He also taught English and Greek for many years at St. Charles College in Maryland.

His poems appeared in such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, and Harper’s Monthly, and later appeared in several volumes of his own poems. From the time he was fourteen his eyesight was poor, and later in life he went completely blind ― which makes his attention to the visual in the following poem noteworthy.

English poet Alice Meynell compiled A Selection from the Verses of John B. Tabb in 1906.

The Light Of Bethlehem

'Tis Christmas night! the snow,
A flock unnumbered lies:
The old Judean stars aglow,
Keep watch within the skies.

An icy stillness holds
The pulses of the night:
A deeper mystery infolds
The wondering Hosts of Light.

Till, lo, with reverence pale
That dims each diadem,
The lordliest, earthward bending, hail
The Light of Bethlehem!

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Christina Rossetti*

Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830—1894) is one of the Victorian era’s finest poets. Born in England, into an artistic family, the youngest daughter of an Italian refugee, poet and scholar ― she was educated at home by her mother, who cultivated intellectual and artistic excellence in her children, as well as an abiding faith.

Christina Rossetti had wanted to join the work of Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War, but instead served as a visiting parish nurse to the poor; she later volunteered a good deal of her time at the St. Mary Magdalene Penitentiary in Highgate, a charitable institution for the reclamation of fallen women.

In 1861, her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti sent her now famous poem “Goblin Market” to the art critic John Ruskin with the hope that he would recommend it for publication. Ruskin believed the poem was “unpublishable” for reasons which now demonstrate he had misjudged both the public and the value of Christina’s originality. Despite this, her poems began to find publication, and her book Goblin Market and Other Poems was published by Macmillan in 1862, to critical acclaim.

In 1874 she began publishing her books of devotional prose, through which can be seen explicitly much of what she expressed, almost cryptically, through the concise style of her poems. In her discussions of natural and biblical images, she expounds her symbolic view of the world.

The final poetry collection Rossetti had published in her lifetime, Verses (1893), consists of 331 poems of faith.

Before The Paling Of The Stars

Before the paling of the stars,
Before the winter morn,
Before the earliest cockcrow
Jesus Christ was born:
Born in a stable,
Cradled in a manger,
In the world His hands had made
Born a stranger.

Priest and king lay fast asleep
In Jerusalem,
Young and old lay fast asleep
In crowded Bethlehem:
Saint and Angel, ox and ass,
Kept a watch together,
Before the Christmas daybreak
In the winter weather.

Jesus on His Mother's breast
In the stable cold,
Spotless Lamb of God was He,
Shepherd of the fold:
Let us kneel with Mary maid,
With Joseph bent and hoary,
With Saint and Angel, ox and ass,
To hail the King of Glory.

*This is the fourth Kingdom Poets post about Christina Rossetti: first post, second post, third post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Anne Brontë*

Anne Brontë (1820―1849) is one of the famous Brontë sisters who lived in Haworth, Yorkshire as the daughters of a country parson. Little is known about Anne’s life ― as distinct from that of her older sisters Charlotte and Emily. While quite young Emily and Anne created a fictitious island called Gondal, which they wrote stories and poems about.

From 1839 to 1845, Anne served as a governess, which provided much insight for her into the lives of a wider range of people ― giving her the perspective from which to write her first novel, Agnes Grey (1847). Her poetry and fiction was at first overshadowed by that of her sisters.

An examination of her output, however, shows Anne to be a subtle and sophisticated writer. She is concerned with character, morality, and faith, and yet does not resort to easy answers to difficult issues. Since the publication of W. T. Hale's study, Anne Brontë: Her Life and Writings (1929), Anne has been increasingly seen as a significant 19th century novelist.

Music on Christmas Morning

Music I love—but ne’er a strain
Could kindle raptures so divine,
So grief assuage, so conquer pain,
And rouse this pensive heart of mine;
As that we hear on Christmas morn,
Upon the wintry breezes borne.

Though darkness still her empire keep,
And hours must pass, ere morning break;
From troubled dreams, or slumbers deep,
That music kindly bids us wake:
It calls us, with an angel’s voice,
To wake, and worship, and rejoice.

To greet with joy the glorious morn,
Which angels welcomed long ago,
When our redeeming Lord was born,
To bring the light of Heaven below;
The powers of darkness to dispel,
And rescue Earth from death and hell.

While listening to that sacred strain,
My raptured spirit soars on high;
I seem to hear those songs again
Resounding through the open sky,
That kindled such divine delight,
In those who watched their flocks by night.

With them, I celebrate His birth;
Glory to God, in highest Heaven,
Good will to men, and peace on Earth,
To us a Saviour King is given;
Our God is come to claim His own,
And Satan’s power is overthrown!

A sinless God, for sinful men,
Descends to suffer and to bleed;
Hell must renounce its empire then;
The price is paid, the world is freed,
And Satan’s self must now confess,
That Christ has earned a right to bless.

Now holy peace may smile from Heaven,
And heavenly truth from earth shall spring:
The captive’s galling bonds are riven,
For our Redeemer is our King;
And He that gave His blood for men
Will lead us home to God again.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Anne Brontë: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock.