Saturday, October 19, 2002
Prayer of St. John of Damascus.
(To be said pointing at the bed.)
O Lord, Lover of men, is this bed to be my coffin, or wilt Thou enlighten my wretched soul with another day? Here the coffin lies before me, and here death confronts me. I fear, O Lord, Thy Judgment and the endless torments, yet I cease not to do evil. My Lord God, I continually anger Thee, and Thy immaculate Mother, and all the Heavenly Powers, and my holy Guardian Angel. I know, O Lord, that I am unworthy of Thy love, but deserve condemnation and every torment. But, whether I want it or not, save me, O Lord. For to save a good man is no great thing, and to have mercy on the pure is nothing wonderful, for they are worthy of Thy mercy. But show the wonder of Thy mercy on me, a sinner. In this reveal Thy love for men, lest my wickedness prevail over Thy unutterable goodness and mercy. And order my life as Thou wilt.
(As sleep is the image of death, at night we pray for the departed.)
With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Thy servants where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sighing, but life everlasting.
(When about to lie down in bed, say:)
Lighten my eyes, O Christ God, lest I sleep in death, and lest my enemy say: I have prevailed over him.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Be my soul's Defender, O God, for I step over many snares. Deliver me from them and save me, O Good One, in Thy love for men.
Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Let us not silently hymn the most glorious Mother of God, holiest of holy Angels, but confess her with heart and mouth to be the Mother of God, for she truly bore God incarnate for us, and prays without ceasing for our souls. Amen.
An explanatory article from the Catholic Encyclopedia.
And (surprisingly?) -- more information from an Anglican site, where you can hear Schubert's "Ave Maria" ...
The Franciscan crown commemorates the Seven Joys of Our Lady : (1) the Annunciation; (2) the Visitation; (3) the Nativity; (4) the Adoration of the Magi [Epiphany]; (5) the Finding in the Temple; (6) the Resurrection of Our Lord; (7) Assumption & Coronation of Our Lady.
Mark Shea refers to this article as "a breath of fresh air." That is an understatement.
It is written by the luminous (and I mean that, without taint of irony, or fear of exaggeration) Miss Peggy Noonan.
May God bless her and keep her, may his face shine upon her, may he show her his countenance and give her his peace. The admiration expressed at my quondam weblog, has cause of increase.
Here is Peggy Noonan, meditating upon, and free-associating with, the Mystery of Our Lord's Agony in the Garden :
What was Christ thinking about that night in Gethsemane? That is the first of the sorrowful mysteries. I start to think and then . . . Maybe he knew that in spite of the pain he was about to be subjected to, in spite of his self-sacrifice, the world was going to continue to be a miserable place. Maybe the evil one sneaked into his mind and showed him a film of the future--Thomas More being put to death as a Christian by Christians for the sake of Christianity, Edmund Campion and John Fisher the same. The Inquisition, the Holocaust, cardinals of the church who would be incapable of compassion for the families of children sexually abused by priests. Maybe all of that is what made him sweat blood.
Also: He must have loved life. He must have been in love with life on earth. Why else would he ask that the cup pass? He must have wanted to grow old. Why? Did he love bread, changes in the weather, wine, the feel of rain? He must have liked being a carpenter's apprentice. Woodwork is satisfying: You can see the results of your labor; you can feel it in a smooth finish. Maybe he made a chair once. Maybe it's in the Museum of Natural History now in a case with a card that says, "Child's chair, circa 100 B.C.E."
Now, my meditation and your meditation might be different from Peggy Noonan's meditation, but evidently Ms Noonan has given time, thought, devotion, and love to these mysteries of her faith. Brava, bravissima!
As defined by the St Joseph's Baltimore Catechism, used for the instruction of schoolchildren : The use of insulting words in reference to God and His Church.
Corroborated by CCC 2148 : "The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ's Church, the saints and sacred things."
There is a seven-decade "rosary" called The Franciscan Crown. I have forgotten which seven mysteries are commemorated, but am certain that with the assistance of this formidable internet, with many Catholic sites, I could soon find out.
There is something called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a devotion popularized by Saint Faustina Kowalska, to be recited on ordinary rosary beads, with prayers other than the Our Father and Hail Mary for the majority of the recitation. (The final prayer, thrice recited, bears great resemblance to the Eastern Trisagion.)
There is a book published by Sophia Institute Press of Manchester, NH called The Essential Rosary. It contains 15 prayers in addition to the customary Rosary prayers, short poems of praise composed by the 20th century English mystic Caryll Houselander.
In the last 20 passages of Carlo Carretto's Blessed are you who believed (Orbis Books, but don't let that stop you!), the author, a Little Brother of Jesus, proposes different ways of saying the Rosary, none of which seem to this reader at odds with authentic Catholic devotion.
Finally, it seems that the Luminous Mysteries recently proposed by the Universal Pontiff were first proposed, in a similar but not identical form, by a priest of Malta, Blessed Giorgio Preca, in 1957 (according to the 10/18/2002 issue of my archdiocesan weekly, The Pilot).
I confess to having used the Catholic rosary-beads, on occasion, for the recitation of the Jesus Prayer, most commonly used by our brethren in Eastern Orthodoxy.
I come to the conclusion that, with the proposal of the Mysteries of Light, impeccably Scriptural and deeply Christocentric, the Holy Father is not doing anything that will disrupt the life of the Church, nor disconcert its most faithful members. He knows what he's doing. And as a Protestant observed to a Catholic journalist, quite early in John Paul II's papacy, "You've got a guy who knows how to pope."
I think that the Luminous Mysteries are a splendid idea.
there is this piece in this morning's Herald, by Joe Fitzgerald -- a column which in the print edition appeared with the headline, "Pols, unlike priests, shun the high ground." This headline more accurately represents the content of the article that the online headline.
He should stick to things that are not beyond his competence, viz., reviews of Barbershop.
Where on earth some of you (one of you?) gets the idea that I'm making the "grave" charge that people who don't think like me don't take pedophilia seriously, I'll never know. I think you're just looking to nitpick, to find something to get mad about. Almost all of my close friends take this pedophilia scandal seriously, and almost none of them share my despair (or level of despair) over the Pope's governance. They think I'm wrong, and God bless 'em for that. Anyway, tar baby: you say something about a topic on these boards, and suddenly 10 people are jumping on you for saying or believing something you never said, and don't believe, and are ready to run you out of town on a rail. Fine. I've got better things to do -- like go pray the Luminous Mysteries for the tens of millions of dollars my diocese is going to need to pay off the victims of its rapist priests.
A number of things come to mind. But perhaps, as Virgil said to Dante in the Inferno(III, 51), "Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass." Non ragionam di lor, ma guarda e passa.
All right. Using the Most Holy Rosary as a punchline for the bitter UNjoke that is the last sentence of the above comment -- culled from the comment-box of a prominent, capacious, excellent weblog -- qualifies (in my untutored layman's opinion) as blasphemy. I'll check my Catechism, but I remember those CCD editions (St Joseph's Baltimore Catechism) which sought to clarify the definition of blasphemy by the following example : A businessman says he'll give a framed copy of the Beatitudes to the first meek man who makes good. "This," the children's Catechism tersely declared, "is blasphemy."
As this pathologically fulminant entity and others go on about sexual abuse, they would do well to, occasionally, once in a blue moon, advert to the Sermon on the Mount, wherein Our Lord defines sexual offense in rather strict terms (cf. Matthew 5.28). By that stringent standard, I know few persons who could say with confidence that they aren't sex offenders.
The point has been made that, in terms of child abuse, abortion is far worse than those offenses for which many priests stand accused, and a few, convicted. Does the fulminant entity who perpetrated the blasphemy above, also go after his pro-choice friends (most of us have pro-choice friends) with commensurate vehemence? I strongly doubt it. Why lose the friendship?
Perhaps those who are adept at condemnation of abuse have voted for a pro-abortion politician on one or more occasions; would this not make them a party to "abuse of children" graver than that which they so unequivocally, yet unimpressively, condemn?
Finally, time for this fellow to take a gander at the 18th chapter according to Saint Luke. Verses nine through fourteen. Seems he's making a pretty penny off of thanking God he isn't like other men : the peccant priests, the do-nothing Pope, you name it ... the Reverend Jesse Jackson (he has praised a film in current release, it seems, simply because it contains the line of dialogue "F--- Jesse Jackson!" spoken by an African-American).
I've mentioned prayer here, and the other fellow -- with an irreverent irony which must generate a hearty chuckle from his fellow bratpack journalists -- also mentions prayer. In this lies our hope. And it is a hope to which, perhaps, we too rarely resort. The last resort. Our own scintillating wit being, perhaps, the first resort.
A good friend wonders if anger is ever wholly, or even fractionally, righteous. In defense of self -- perhaps not very. "That was taken out of context!" "Why does everyone misunderstand me?" "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good." But anger in defense of this indefatigable, supremely holy Pontiff -- and the Mysteries of the Church's faith, and of one of her indispensable devotions? Disgust at proud Pharisees who thank God they are not like "other men," i.e., the Vicar of Christ with his head in the clouds, allegedly aloof from our nation's more urgent concerns? -- Papa Wojtyla, who shall be a ministering angel when many of his critics lie howling?
The Transfiguration as a punchline to a bon mot dripping amertume?
The readers of this tenebrous web-log are, I would venture to say, much more virtuous than its author. So, dear friends, please tutor me, how does one respond? Does one respond at all? Non ragionam di lor, ma guarda e passa -- often good advice, but are we permitted nonetheless to be outraged?
Here's hoping there's less than 90 seconds left in this fellow's 15 minutes.
Does a poet 'invent'? Does a poet 'create'?
Well, to each of those questions, yes-and-no.
Before the poet sets pen to paper, he's, or she's, been given a whole lot, viz. the poet's native language, which he or she did not invent, but in which atmosphere the poet swims, much like a fish in the uninvented water. The poet's been given education in, or exposure to, that language (whether 10 or 20 or 50 years); and presumably, the poet has been inspired by the example of illustrious predecessors to make something of his or her own, however faltering the effort, however inchoate the excellence.
[New blogger's drinking game : every time dylan uses the word "inchoate" or "quondam" or "advert" ....Or "obiter dicta" ...]
I wonder if a poet's native language, pre-existing and virtually limitless, is an apt metaphor for God's grace. The poet has been given a language, much as we are given God's grace. We don't have to invent a language, and if we did, our readership would be limited to those few who know the language. We don't learn our language all by ourselves; we're immersed in it from birth and shortly after, we acquire a little here and a little there, and continue to get help from teachers along the way.
We have illustrious exemplars and forerunners (in faith, the saints; in poetry, whoever you read most often).
The language is always there. It doesn't take a vacation or go away. It's available to whoever wants to use it. And it is best when shared, communicated.
Stumbling, clumsy, meanderings, fueled by too little coffee. But if anyone else can expand or improve upon the metaphor ... go right ahead!
by George Herbert (1593-1633)
Prayer the church's banquet, angel's age,
God's breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth;
Engine against th' Almighty, sinner's tow'r,
Reversèd thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,
The land of spices; something understood.
An oblique-house "salute" for an entity called Michael Moore, who (the tenebrous one says) makes Eleanor Clift seem appealing.
Friday, October 18, 2002
... perhaps a bit early for this one, but no matter, since I quoted from it recently & urged the good visitors to go and read it at once! Here it is ...
Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.
I've known the wind by water banks to shake
The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell
And held in ice as dancers in a spell
Fluttered all winter long into a lake;
Graved on the dark in gestures of descent,
They seemed their own most perfect monument.
There was perfection in the death of ferns
Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone
A million years. Great mammoths overthrown
Composedly have made their long sojourns,
Like palaces of patience, in the gray
And changeless lands of ice. And at Pompeii
The little dog lay curled and did not rise
But slept the deeper as the ashes rose
And found the people incomplete, and froze
The random hands, the loose unready eyes
Of men expecting yet another sun
To do the shapely thing they had not done.
These sudden ends of time must give us pause.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.
Templegate Publishers : Doing more for peace of mind and soul and world than any Nobel Peace laureate
These small books of Daily Readings, not quite daybooks, but 50 or 55 short one-page selections, are great. The anthology of Orthodox spiritual writing is shocking and beautiful and splendid. These meditations are, to use the phrase that has been used in another context, luminous mysteries. One must present at least three of the short selections, although one is daunted by the task of transcription. Deep breath. Here goes.
p. 24 God's Written Assurance
from the Macarian Homilies
It often happens that Satan will insidiously commune with you in your heart and say : "Think of the evil you have done; your soul is full of lawlessness, you are weighed down by many grievous sins." Do not let him deceive you when he does this and do not be led to despair on the pretext that you are being humble. After gaining admission through the fall, evil has the power to commune at all times with the soul, as man to man, and so to suggest sinful actions to it. You should answer it : "I have God's written assurance, for He says, 'I desire not the death of the sinner, but that he should return through repentance and live' " (cf. Ezek. 33.11). What was the purpose of His descent to earth except to save sinners, to bring light to those in darkness and life to the dead?
:: :: :: :: :: :: ::
p. 25 Sin and Forgiveness
by St Nicholas Cabasilas, 14th century lay theologian, mystical writer
Let us arrive at a knowledge of the dignity of our nature, and also [at] a clear perception of the loving-kindness of God. Indeed, this will prevent us from even looking at anything evil, and should we happen to fall it will readily raise us again.
Of the many things which impede our salvation the greatest of all is that when we commit any transgression we do not at once turn back to God and ask forgiveness. Because we feel shame and fear we think that the way back to God is difficult, and that He is angry and ill-tempered towards us, and that there is need of great preparation if we wish to approach Him. But the loving-kindness of God utterly banishes this thought from the soul. What can prevent anyone who clearly knows how kind He is and that, as it is said, "while you are yet speaking He will say, 'Here I am,' [Isaiah 58.9]" from approaching Him at once for the pardon of the sins which he has committed?
:: :: :: :: :: :: ::
p. 37 Flowers for God
by Fr Sergei Fudel (1901-77), married Russian priest, bearer of light and love for the Church during and beyond his years in prison and exile at the hands of the Communist régime
People who believe in God in their own way, yet do not believe in the Church, often say, "Does God really need all this ritual? Why do we have to have all these formalities? We only need love, beauty, and humaneness." A man, on his way to the woman he loves, seeing flowers, buys them or picks them and brings them to her, never stopping to think whether this is a formality or not. Yet this is the very concept of church ritual.
Love for God gives birth to the beauty and humanity of the ritual, which we lay, like flowers, at the feet of God. Faith is love, and the essence of Christianity is to be in love with God and to feel that the Church is His body which has remained with us and lives with us on earth. This feeling expresses itself in actions which we call ritual.
However, if only external and dead action remains, then such action will be sterile and self-deceptive, not only in Christianity but in any sphere of human life, even in science. This truth should be clear to everyone.
Formalism and sanctimoniousness is not Christianity. Each one of us has to move along this long and narrow way from non-Christianity to Christianity, from artificial flowers to live ones.
is a failure to excommunicate
The blogger at Oblique House (who has taken my Commodores-inspired ribbing in good humor and who, therefore, is once, twice, three times a lady) links to a website called excommunication.net -- whose aim is to get American bishops to be a bit more, if not a lot more, vocal about the scandal of "Catholic" politicians advocating abortion.
Why this website merits mention here -- its excellent point about the sex-abuse scandal and those who shout "Zero tolerance!", namely this : Abortion is child abuse. But apparently, that's a form of abuse we can tolerate, for tolerance's sake.
Also, at Oblique, Mrs vonHuben makes some excellent observations about the numinous Ms Oprah Winfrey. (I missed Oprah's magazine this month -- who's on the cover?)
dylan gets nihil-istic : Alan Keyes, but Alicia Keys.
... for the nonce ... (nonce ? ) ...
Noticing that the archives of my Quondam Blog were still get-at-able, I've linked to them in the left-hand column, but since the blog is inactive, those archives might someday vanish.
Nonce & quondam in the same blogging. Hey, at least I didn't say "anent"!
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Yesterday was of course the 24th anniversary of JP2's pontificate; also, the 148th birthday of Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde.
Today is St Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote some wonderful early epistles, among which we find the line 'I am to be as pure wheat ground for Christ' anticipating his martyrdom by being ground between the teeth of lions and wild beasts.
Tomorrow is St Luke, and a the birthday of a dear friend of bygone years. Also, I'll be 33 years and 4 months old : one-third of a century!
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a way as gives us breath;
Such a truth as ends all strife;
Such a life as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a light as shows a feast;
Such a feast as mends in length;
Such a strength as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a joy as none can move;
Such a love as none can part;
Such a heart as joys in love.
1 In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum.
2 Hoc erat in principio apud Deum.
3 Omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est;
4 in ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum,
5 et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt.
for the Luminous Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary
BWATE : Baptism, Wedding, Announcement, Transfiguration, Eucharist.
For the proclamation, can one meditate on the Lucan version (Luke, ch. 4), where Our Lord reads from Isaiah in the synagogue, and punctuates his reading by declaring "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing"?
16: And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read;
17: and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
18: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19: to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
20: And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
21: And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
22: And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?"
23: And he said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, `Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Caper'na-um, do here also in your own country.'"
24: And he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.
25: But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Eli'jah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land;
26: and Eli'jah was sent to none of them but only to Zar'ephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
27: And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Eli'sha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Na'aman the Syrian."
28: When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.
29: And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong.
30: But passing through the midst of them he went away.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
I should strive to post only in a state of grace, or failing that, in a state of acute awareness of God and his mercy. I should post those things which come from good places, good sources, beautiful and noble minds and hearts (the poetry and meditations that come from souls much sweeter & more virtuous than mine). I should, perhaps, as someone suggested earlier today, "chill."
I should post when the drunkenness is the "sober inebriation" of the Spirit, and not something more ... well, liquid.
I should be audacious and careful at the same time, if possible : boldly sharing the good things, & careful about the vehemence and anger.
I should, being a sleeper, arise from my slumber, and Christ will give me light.
But I'm still very much in that Francis Thompson place, standing amid the dust o' the mounded years, and wondering, "The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?" Still very much looking for the consolations of God before, or (worse!) instead of, the God of consolations.
revised a few times since 2002
I believe in Shakespeare, and in Dylan Thomas, and in E E Cummings, and in cold autumn days, and in the Smiths, and in clouds, and in glasses of chilled red wine as big as bathtubs.
I believe in coffee and poetry and music and Niles Crane and second-hand bookstores and Gaius Valerius Catullus. I believe in flowers and bowers and bumblebees and Scarlatti and Fats Waller and beautiful brown eyes.
I believe in dolce far non troppo. I believe in cloisters and cities and fireplaces and chimneys and mountains and valleys and "settlement[s] of snow" (from Richard Wilbur's poem "Year's-End").
I believe in this rain that we've been having. I believe in resiliency and hope and obstinacy and despair. I believe in joy and gloom and sorrow and doom and Audrey Hepburn and Pippin.
I believe in basking in the God-light that comes through the window of the #45 bus as I go to visit friends in a supposedly dangerous but evidently graced section of my vexing but (ultimately) lovable city.
I believe in shouting and whispering, depending on the occasion. I believe in Calvin Coolidge, who said "we should be as progressive as science or as reactionary as the multiplication-table," depending on the occasion.
I believe that the tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction. I believe in the instinctive use of spondees. I believe in Rossetti and pine-cones; Alighieri and effervescence. I believe in matrigna mia, who left us not too long ago.
I believe in my friends. I believe in my enemies. I believe in Ecclesiastes and the Gospels and the Psalms. I believe in the first Epistle of John. I believe in the poetry that Daniel Berrigan wrote in his first two books.
I believe in construction-workers and carpenters and in people who do things that I can't do. I believe in losing wrestling matches to buxom chums of the opposite sex.
I believe in Mozart and Tracy Chapman and Oscar Wilde and in the invaluably salvific properties of a really good laugh.
I believe in dew and frost, forests and deserts, Carretto and Campion, rain and fire, light and darkness, speech and silence.
I praise him, for he has done wondrous things,
And in me grows his everlasting Word.
Of all sweet syllables my ears have heard,
The angel's Ave is the best of songs:
My soul, proclaim the greatness of the Lord!
If peace prevail, if sorrow bring a sword,
My heart shall trust in heaven's governings:
For in me grows Love's everlasting Word.
Humility: the sparrow, slightest bird,
Announces grace with the quick tips of his wings!
All things proclaim the greatness of the Lord.
I bless our God whom Abraham adored,
Who loves the poor and rights the proud man's wrongs,
And in me grows his everlasting Word.
Heaven's omnipotent Spirit has been stirred;
The harpist's fingers vivify the strings:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
And in me grows his everlasting Word.
Here it is. And note, in section 16, the Holy Father quotes the lines that Dante gives to St Bernard of Clairvaux about our Lady :
Donna, sei tanto grande e tanto vali,
che qual vuol grazia ed a te non ricorre,
sua disïanza vuol volar senz' ali.
Elegy XIX : To His Mistris Going to Bed.
COME, Madam come, all rest my powers defie,
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
Is tir'd with standing though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heavens Zone glistering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
That th' eyes of busie fooles may be stopt there.
Unlace your self, for that harmonious chyme,
Tells me from you, that now it is bed time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envie,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowry meads th' hills shadow steales.
Off with that wyerie Coronet and shew
The haiery Diademe which on you doth grow:
Now off with those shooes, and then safely tread
In this loves hallow'd temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes, heaven's Angels us'd to be
Receavd by men; Thou Angel bringst with thee
A heaven like Mahomets Paradice; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easly know,
By this these Angels from an evil sprite,
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
Licence my roaving hands, and let them go,
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America! my new-found-land,
My kingdome, safeliest when with one man man'd,
My Myne of precious stones, My Emperie,
How blest am I in this discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
Full nakedness! All joyes are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth'd must be
To taste whole joyes. Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta's balls, cast in mens views,
That when a fools eye lighteth on a Gem,
His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them.
Like pictures, or like books gay coverings made
For lay-men, are all women thus array'd;
Themselves are mystick books, which only wee
(Whom their imputed grace will dignifie)
Must see reveal'd. Then since that I may know;
As liberally, as to, a Midwife, shew
Thy self: cast all yea, this white lynnen hence,
There is no pennance due to innocence.
To teach thee, I am naked first; why then
What needst thou have more covering than a man.
I love the spelling of pennance. I love the fact that one of these pentameters consists of nothing but five prepositions used adverbially. I love the fact that Cummings read this poem as part of his Charles Eliot Norton lectures (see i : six nonlectures, pp 58-9) at Veritas Community College in the early 1950s.
Will the self, lost, be found again? In form?
I walk the night to keep my five wits warm.
from "The Decision" by Theodore Roethke
Which is the way? I cry to the dread black,
The shifting shade, the cinders at my back.
Which is the way? I ask, and turn to go,
As a man turns to face on-coming snow.
(Hilda Doolittle, 1886-1961)
(From the Bohemian)
Of unguent in a jar,
We may ensample myrrh:
So were His fragrance stored,
Sealed up, compact, secure,
In flawless alabaster,
But for the spear;
This is the wound of grace,
This is the nesting-place
Of the white dove,
This is the wound of love;
The spear opened for us
The rose of purple fire,
The rose of iciest breath,
White rose of death;
The spear opened for us
The narrow way
Into the dust,
To the eternal day.
[This poem by H. D., and the translation of Novalis directly herebeneath, come from a copy of a wonderful old magazine called Wake, subtitled with a becomingly naïve audacity, the creative magazine (issue no. 10, 1951). Ah, what you can find in second-hand bookstores! Also present in this issue were Mark Van Doren, Jean Garrigue, Denise Levertov, Richard Eberhart, José García Villa (who was one of the editors), and a 33 random-thoughts bit of aphoristic prose by -- who else? -- édouard ess-lean, the marquis de kew-mangs!]
pseud. of Friedrich von Hardenberg (1772-1801)
Wenn nicht mehr Zahlen und Figuren
Wenn nicht mehr Zahlen und Figuren
Sind Schlüssel aller Kreaturen
Wenn die, so singen oder küssen,
Mehr als die Tiefgelehrten wissen,
Wenn sich die Welt ins freie Leben
Und in die Welt wird zurückbegeben,
Wenn dann sich wieder Licht und Schatten
Zu echter Klarheit werden gatten
Und man in Märchen und Gedichten
Erkennt die wahren Weltgeschichten,
Dann fliegt vor einem geheimen Wort
Das ganze verkehrte Wesen fort.
Translation by Howard Hugo :
When figures and numbers, now the keys,
No longer solve our mysteries,
When those who sing and those who kiss
Know everything the wise men miss,
When all the earth and life are free
And earth again as earth will be,
When once more shade and once more light
In wedded radiance unite,
And out of fable and fairy-story
We come to know the world's true history,
Then fleeing before one secret word
Our universe will be absurd.
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
From the Templegate Publishers Daily Readings series, Daily Readings with William Law (1986, p. 36).
The wrath is in us and not in God
There is no wrath that stands between God and us but what is awakened in the dark fire of our own fallen nature; and to quench this wrath, and not his own, God gave his only begotten Son to be made man.
God has no more wrath in himself now than he had before the creation, when he had only himself to love. The precious blood of his Son was not poured out to pacify himself (who in himself had no nature toward man but love), but it was poured out to quench the wrath and fire of the fallen soul, and to kindle it in a birth of light and love.
As man lives and moves and has his being in the divine nature, and is supported by it, whether his nature be good or bad, so the wrath of man, which was awakened in the dark fire of his fallen nature, may, in a certain sense, be called the wrath of God, as hell itself may be said to be in God because nothing can be out of his immensity. Yet this hell is not God, but the dark habitation of the devil. And this wrath which may be called the wrath of God is not God, but the fiery wrath of the fallen soul.
via Gerard Serafin. From Christ the Tiger. Christ speaks :
"I announce to you your redemption. Behold, I make all things new! Behold, I do what cannot be done!
"I restore the years that the locust and worms have eaten. I restore to you the symphonies and operas which your deaf ears have never heard; and the snowy mountains that your blind eyes have never seen; and the freedom you lost through plunder.
"And I restore to you the good which your own foolish mistakes have cheated you of, and I bring to you the love of which all other loves speak - the love which is joy and beauty, and which you have sought in a thousand streets and for which you have wept and clawed your pillow."
from i : six nonlectures (pp. 31-2)
in the world of my boyhood -- long, long ago
before time was space and Oedipus was a complex and religion was the opiate of the people and pigeons had learned to play pingpong -- social stratification not merely existed but luxuriated. All women were not, as now , ladies; a gentleman was a gentleman; and a mucker (as the professional denizens of Irving and Scott streets knew full well : since their lofty fragment of Cambridge almost adjoined plebeian Somerville) was a mucker. Being myself a professor's (& later a clergyman's) son, I had every socalled reason to accept these conventional distinctions without cavil; yet for some unreason I didn't. The more implacably a virtuous Cambridge drew me toward what might have been her bosom, the more sure I felt that soi-disant respectability comprised nearly everything which I couldn't respect, and the more eagerly I explored sinful Somerville. But while sinful Somerville certainly possessed a bosom (in fact, bosoms) she also possessed fists which hit below the belt and arms which threw snowballs containing small rocks.
Little by little and bruise by teacup
my doubly disillusioned spirit made an awe-inspiring discovery; which (on more than several occasions) has prevented me from wholly misunderstanding socalled humanity : the discovery, namely, that all groups, gangs, and collectivities -- no matter how apparently disparate -- are fundamentally alike; and that what makes any world go round is not the trivial difference between a Somerville and a Cambridge, but the immeasurable difference between either of them and individuality. Whether this discovery is valid for you, I can't pretend to say : but I can and do say, without pretending, that it's true for me -- inasmuch as I've found (and am still finding) authentic individuals in the most varied environments conceivable. Nor will anything ever persuade me that, by turning Somerville into Cambridge or Cambridge into Somerville or both into neither, anybody can make an even slightly better world. Better worlds (I suggest) are born, not made; and their birthdays are the birthdays of individuals.
Champion of leaf and life, love and bud, bee and tree,
Of all things minuscule, whimsical, glad and true,
Slayer of seeming Mind with keenly greenest glee,
Routing scoundrels of Same with Am so brave and new,
Tiniest i who learned
From Spríng-bírds how to see
(Brandishing birth and Yes
Against grim falsity),
Praiser of thoughtless feeling and first, we Thank You.
Sunday, October 13, 2002
Integrate these riverthings: gray day,
ducks at the fringes, joggers on the banks
and thinnest rowboats needling through the mist.
:: :: :: :: :: :: ::
Quinzaine de la rosée
Walking through Boston Common,
silent grace! Dewdrops
Walls of paper, mansions decked,
Jesting counsels strained.
Venturings collapsed, we have
Thronged and tenebrous.
Might and main, we strive to grasp
Lankest gloom of cobbled mist
Whence spring forth dismays.
Momentary visions limned,
Drest in veriest borrowings,
Urge a verdict dire
As a dexter vagary
Through exurban undergrowth,
Trancing drams of bliss.
Dissipate these burgeonings,
Aspirations sweetly nipped
In joy's tensile bud:
Thrall to eldritch premises,
Lissome specks of haplessness
Glide through this climate
Where the voice of beauty fails
In a session terrible,
Falters in a priceless guilt,
Wanes and is reborn,