Monday, November 11, 2019

G.A. Studdert Kennedy*

G.A. Studdert Kennedy (1883―1929) is a poet who served as an army chaplain on the Western Front in World War I ― which ended 101 years ago, today. Although he was born in England, he always maintained that he was an Irishman, due to his parentage; his father being born in County Dublin, but serving as vicar of St. Mary’s, Quarry Hill, in Leeds.

During the war he was very supportive of the British war effort. He received the Military Cross ― his citation reading:

-----“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He showed
-----the greatest courage and disregard for his own safety in
-----attending to the wounded under heavy fire. He searched shell
-----holes for our own and enemy wounded, assisting them to the
-----dressing station, and his cheerfulness and endurance had a
-----splendid effect upon all ranks in the front line trenches,
-----which he constantly visited.”

After the war, however, he became an outspoken pacifist.

Waste

Waste of muscle, waste of brain,
Waste of patience, waste of pain,
Waste of manhood, waste of health,
Waste of beauty, waste of wealth,
Waste of blood and waste of tears,
Waste of youth’s most precious years,
Waste of ways the saints have trod,
Waste of glory,
Waste of God.
War!

‘My Peace I Give Unto You’

Blessed are the eyes that see
-----The things that you have seen.
Blessed are the feet that walk
-----The ways where you have been.
Blessed are the eyes that see
-----The agony of God,
Blessed are the feet that tread
-----The paths His feet have trod.
Blessed are the souls that solve
-----The paradox of pain,
And find the path that, piercing it,
-----Leads through to peace again.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about G.A. Studdert Kennedy: 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, November 4, 2019

Anne Brontë

Anne Brontë (1820―1849) is the youngest of the Brontë sisters. Their father was an evangelical Anglican priest who was appointed Rector of Haworth in Yorkshire shortly after Anne’s birth. Her mother died when Anne was barely a year old.

She wrote under the pseudonym of Acton Bell ― contributing 21 poems to a book of verse published in 1846 by the three sisters, which went unnoticed. She went on to publish two novels ― Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848). Anne’s novels sold well, perhaps due to the association in the minds of the public with her sisters’ successful novels ― Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte’s Jane Eyre (both published in 1847). She fell ill with tuberculosis late in 1848, and died by the following May.

The Penitent

I mourn with thee and yet rejoice
That thou shouldst sorrow so;
With Angel choirs I join my voice
To bless the sinner's woe.
Though friends and kindred turn away
And laugh thy grief to scorn,
I hear the great Redeemer say
'Blessed are ye that mourn'.

Hold on thy course nor deem it strange
That earthly cords are riven.
Man may lament the wondrous change
But 'There is joy in Heaven'!

The post this past week at Poems For Ephesians is also about Anne Brontë.

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 28, 2019

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872—1906) was one of the earliest black poets to gain wide attention in the United States. He couldn’t afford to go to college, and so took a job as an elevator operator in Dayton, Ohio. His first book Oak and Ivy (1893) was self-published, and he paid for it by selling copies to elevator riders for $1.

He soon moved to Chicago, where he was befriended by Frederick Douglass, who called him — “the most promising young colored man in America.”

His second book Majors and Minors (1895, Hadley & Hadley) appeared as his poems were receiving publication, in The New York Times and other major newspapers and magazines. A number of the poems in these collections were written in dialect, and were, at the time, the poems that drew attention to him.

His third book, was published by Dodd, Mead, & Company — and led to a six-month reading tour of England in 1897 — a company he subsequently published his poetry and fiction through.

He died from Tuberculosis when he was just 33.

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

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 21, 2019

Gwyneth Lewis

Gwyneth Lewis is a Welsh poet who completed her studies at Cambridge, Harvard, Columbia, and Oxford. She writes both in English and Welsh; her first English-language collection Parables & Faxes (1995) won the Aldeburgh Festival Prize. She was appointed as the first National Poet of Wales for 2005/2006.

Her words “In these stones horizons sing” appear in six-foot letters on the face of the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff — along with a message in Welsh which has been translated as “Creating truth like glass from inspiration's furnace” — reflecting cultural aspirations for the people of Wales.

She has written two non-fiction books: Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book about Depression (2002), and Two in a Boat: A Marital Rite of Passage (2005).

Gwyneth Lewis’s poetry collection Sparrow Tree (2011, Bloodaxe) won the Roland Matthias Poetry Award (which is awarded for poetry from Wales in English). It is the source for the following poem.

Philosophy

"Knitting's like everything," it's tempting to say.
No. Knitting's like knitting. Sure, there's cosmology

in Norwegian sweaters with vertical stars,
but as science that doesn't get us far.

If space is made of superstrings
then God's a knitter and everything

is craft. Perhaps we can darn
tears in the space-time continuum

and travel down wormholes to begin
to purl in another dimension's skein.

But no. There are things you can't knit:
a spaceship. A husband, though the wish

might be strong and the softest thread
would be perfect for the hair on his head,

another, tougher, that washes well
for his pecs and abdominals. You can stitch a soul

daily and unpick mistakes,
perform some moral nip and tucks —

forgiveness. Look out. Your Frankenstein
might turn and start knitting you again.

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 14, 2019

Meister Eckhart

Meister Eckhart is the commonly-known name for Johannes Eckhart (c.1260—c.1328) who is a German Dominican theologian and mystic. He had been teaching theology in Paris, and received the title “Meister” when he received his Masters degree.

Because he often spoke in vague, imprecise language, in 1325 he was accused of heresy. In his sermons he often said things that seemed pantheistic, or erroneous in other ways, which he later corrected. In February of 1327, from the pulpit of the Dominican church in Cologne, Eckhart repudiated the unorthodox sense in which some of his utterances could be interpreted, retracted all possible errors, and submitted to the Holy See.

The following poem is from Meister Eckhart's Book of the Heart: Meditations for the Restless Soul, (2017, Hampton Roads Publishing) which is translated by scholar Jon M. Sweeney and poet Mark S. Burrows.

Nine Words of Prayer

God, our only,
Scripture, our gift,
Holy, the qualities we seek.

The Name, sweet on the lips,
The love, intimate and secret,
Humility, again and again.

Vain is the world;
Miserable, those apart;
And Blessed, the sainthood
-----we seek.

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 7, 2019

Mark Jarman*

Mark Jarman has now published eleven books of poetry, the most recent of which is Heronry (2017, Sarabande Books). It is his first since his retrospective collection, Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems (2011). Jarman has written extensively about poetry — particularly expressing his support for both narrative poetry, and poems written in traditional forms. His new collection of essays about poetry, called Dailiness, is forthcoming in 2020 from Paul Dry Books.

William Thompson calls Mark Jarman “the leading Chrsitian poet in the United States,” in The Literary Encyclopedia (2006) and says, “even [Jarman’s] most explicitly Christian poems are marked by a consistently surprising temperament that Jarman himself describes as heterodox,” and that in recent years, his “poems have focused intensely on matters of belief and disbelief, and on the mysteries of love and suffering.”

Jarman served as Elector for the American Poets’ Corner at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City from 2009 to 2012. He received the Balcones Poetry Prize in 2013.

The following poem first appeared in Tiferet Journal, and is from Heronry.

Walking on Water

-----Matthew 14

-----Always the same message out of Matthew.
The water Jesus walks on is life’s turbulence.
-----He calms our trouble and lifts us up again.

To walk on water? That’s what’s puzzling –
-----that feat of anti-matter, defeat of physics,
those beautiful unshod feet of cosmic truth

-----for whom the whole performance is child’s play.
And unless one becomes as a little child
-----the kingdom’s inaccessible by any route.

That water, then, its broken surface tension,
-----collision of fracturing waves, apparent chaos,
its fractals turning infinite and weaving

-----the netted skin between worlds, that web
of light and gravity which underpins our faith –
-----water, a substance, stormy or pacific,

we know a myriad ways to get across it.
-----But simply walking on it? Literally?
How far do you think you’d go before you fell

-----through that convergence between time and space?
The water Jesus walked on wasn’t water
-----only. It was the storm that made it rock.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Mark Jarman: 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, September 30, 2019

George MacDonald*

George MacDonald (1824—1905) is the author of more than fifty books in a wide variety of genres — novels, plays, sermons, poems, essays and fairy tales. He became a Congregational minister in Arundel, Scotland in 1850, but left that position three years later due to theological differences. He never took on another church — although he was offered a staggering $20,000 per year by a large New York City church in 1872, when he was in the United States on a lecture tour.

There are some who dispute some of MacDonald’s less-orthodox beliefs. He did eventually join the Anglican Church, but was not drawn to its high liturgy or theology. MacDonald himself did not want to spend energy disputing. In one novel he wrote:

-----“The farmer believed in God—that is, he tried to do
-----what God required of him, and thus was on the straight
-----road to know him. He talked little about religion, and
-----was not one to take sides on doctrinal issues. When he
-----heard people advocating or opposing the claims of this
-----or that party in the church, he would turn away with a
-----smile such as men yield to the talk of children. He had
-----no time, he would say, for that kind of thing. He had enough
-----to do in trying to faithfully practice what was beyond dispute.”

Numerous authors have declared George MacDonald’s influence on their work, including J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, and Madeleine L'Engle.

The Grace of Grace

Had I the grace to win the grace
Of some old man in lore complete,
My face would worship at his face,
And I sit lowly at his feet.

Had I the grace to win the grace
Of childhood, loving shy, apart,
The child should find a nearer place,
And teach me resting on my heart.

Had I the grace to win the grace
Of maiden living all above,
My soul would trample down the base,
That she might have a man to love.

A grace I had no grace to win
Knocks now at my half open door:
Ah, Lord of glory, come thou in!—
Thy grace divine is all, and more.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about George MacDonald: 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.