Saturday, November 15, 2008

Marianne Moore for Saturday

When the spirit expands and the animal part of one sinks, one is not sardonic[.]

from The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore, p. 299

November 15, 2008

Optional memorial of St Albert the Great, bishop, confessor and doctor.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Not quite a poem

This thing is seriously goofy. Or un-seriously goofy. But I remember that the blogueuse of the late lamented Gospel Minefield liked the line about the stylite.



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Marianne Moore for Friday morning

If everything literary were deleted, in which there is some thought of deity, "literature" would be a puny residue; one could almost say that each striking literary work is some phase of the desire to resist or affirm "religion."

That belief in God is not easy, is seemingly one of God's injustices; and self-evidently, imposed piety results in the opposite. Coercion and religious complacency are serious enemies of religion -- whereas persecution invariably favors spiritual conviction. But this is certain, any attempted substituting of self for deity, is a forlorn hope.

from The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore, p. 678

November 14, 2008

Friday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time brings a meditation on Purgatory from Abbot Gueranger, a Benedictine.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Marianne Moore, again

Volcanics seem pardonable when they are one's own, but in others it is some species of poetics usually which attracts one, and in search of pure art we tend to feel betrayed when experts tell us merely where it is not.

The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore, p. 201

Egotism is usually subversive of sagacity.

ibid., p. 178

November 13, 2008

St Frances Xavier Cabrini.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Marianne Moore

[...] only the purblind would dissect a rose to determine its fragrance, or a poem to discover its secret; for a poem deprived of its mystery would no longer be a poem. And mystery is different from obscurity.

from The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore (Penguin, 1987), p. 370

November 12, 2008

St Josaphat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Greater Love

by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Red lips are not so red
      As the stained stones kissed by the English dead.
Kindness of wooed and wooer
Seems shame to their love pure.
O Love, your eyes lose lure
      When I behold eyes blinded in my stead!

Your slender attitude
      Trembles not exquisite like limbs knife-skewed,
Rolling and rolling there
Where God seems not to care;
Till the fierce Love they bear
      Cramps them in death's extreme decrepitude.

Your voice sings not so soft,—
      Though even as wind murmuring through raftered loft,—
Your dear voice is not dear,
Gentle, and evening clear,
As theirs whom none now hear
      Now earth has stopped their piteous mouths that coughed.

Heart, you were never hot,
      Nor large, nor full like hearts made great with shot;
And though your hand be pale,
Paler are all which trail
Your cross through flame and hail:
      Weep, you may weep, for you may touch them not.

War Is Kind

by Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

      Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment
      Little souls who thirst for fight,
      These men were born to drill and die
      The unexplained glory flies above them
      Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom--
      A field where a thousand corpses lie.

Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

      Swift, blazing flag of the regiment
      Eagle with crest of red and gold,
      These men were born to drill and die
      Point for them the virtue of slaughter
      Make plain to them the excellence of killing
      And a field where a thousand corpses lie.

Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

November 11, 2008

St Martin of Tours.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain

I've combed the archives, and selected thirty-odd poems of mine (emphasis on the odd) to be placed under the label of "thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain" (the line is Anne Bradstreet's, describing one of her books). So, by clicking on the label of this post, if you're a glutton for punishment, you can read some of what I've produced since 1985.


Great art is never born at room temperature.

José Garcia Villa (1908-97)

November 10, 2008

Memorial of St Leo the Great, pope and doctor of the church.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Tracy Chapman's newest single

I've removed the YouTube embed because, for some strange reason, it was messing up my blog. So here's the link to the YouTube ...

The whole album is quite good. The best five songs are probably "Sing for You," "Save Us All," "Thinking of You," "A Theory," and "Conditional."

"A Theory" contains the happy rhyme of "I will postulate" and "ask you out on a date"!

55 years

Today is the anniversary of the death of Dylan Thomas (1914-53). To commemorate the occasion, here is the famous villanelle.

Psalm 146. Lauda, anima mea.

1 Praise the LORD, O my soul: while I live, will I praise the LORD; * yea, as long as I have any being, I will sing praises unto my God.

2 O put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man; * for there is no help in them.

3 For when the breath of man goeth forth, he shall turn again to his earth, * and then all his thoughts perish.

4 Blessed is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, * and whose hope is in the LORD his God:

5 Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that therein is; * who keepeth his promise for ever;

6 Who helpeth them to right that suffer wrong; * who feedeth the hungry.

7 The LORD looseth men out of prison; * the LORD giveth sight to the blind.

8 The LORD helpeth them that are fallen; * the LORD careth for the righteous.

9 The LORD careth for the strangers; he defendeth the fatherless and widow: * as for the way of the ungodly, he turneth it upside down.

10 The LORD thy God, O Sion, shall be King for evermore, * and throughout all generations.

Dante Alighieri

From section 2 of La Vita Nuova, when Dante sees Beatrice for the first time.

Sonnet IX

by Pablo Neruda (1904-73)

Al golpe de la ola contra la piedra indócil
la claridad estalla y establece su rosa
y el círculo del mar se reduce a un racimo,
a una sola gota de sal azul que cae.

Oh radiante magnolia desatada en la espuma,
magnética viajera cuya muerte florece
y eternamente vuelve a ser y a no ser nada:
sal rota, deslumbrante movimiento marino.

Juntos tú y yo, amor mío, sellamos el silencio,
mientras destruye el mar sus constantes estatuas
y derrumba sus torres de arrebato y blancura,

porque en la trama de estos tejidos invisibles
del agua desbocada, de la incesante arena,
sostenemos la única y acosada ternura.


There where the waves shatter on the restless rocks
the clear light bursts and enacts its rose,
and the sea-circle shrinks to a cluster of buds,
to one drop of blue salt, falling.

O bright magnolia bursting in the foam,
magnetic transient whose death blooms
and vanishes--being, nothingness--forever:
broken salt, dazzling lurch of the sea.

You and I, Love, together we ratify the silence,
while the sea destroys its perpetual statues,
collapses its towers of wild speed and whiteness:

because in the weavings of those invisible fabrics,
galloping water, incessant sand,
we make the only permanent tenderness.

(trans. S. Tapscott)

November 9, 2008

Sunday brings the feast of the Dedication of St John Lateran, omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput.