Monday, November 28, 2016

Pádraig J. Daly

Pádraig J. Daly is an Irish poet and Augustinian friar in Dublin. He has written eleven poetry collections including, Nowhere But in Praise (1978), The Last Dreamers: New & Selected Poems (1999), The Other Sea (2003), and Afterlife (2010). His most recent book is God in Winter (2015, Dedalus Press).

John F. Deane wrote of God in Winter: "Daly’s poems affirm hope...a hope that does not ignore our present reality, in poems that focus on the actuality of incarnation, where God is divined in everyday living. These are poems that eschew mere devotion, but whose breathing rhythms and beautifully-modulated music, touch the deepest and most valuable heart-strings."

Pádraig J. Daly has also translated poetry into English from Italian — Edoardo Sanguineti, (Libretto), and Paolo Ruffilli (Joy and Mourning) — and from Irish.

The following poem first appeared in Image, and has since appeared in Poetry Daily.

Mary

If she had said, No,
The world would not have stopped:
Birds would have flown high still into sky,
The heavens would have proclaimed his glory
And the firmament the work of his hands.

We would have gone on reproving him,
Unaware of how deeply down
His love might plunge into our affliction,
Unaware of how he might have taken upon himself
The consequences of our nos.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Rosalia de Castro

Rosalia de Castro (1837—1885) is a poet who wrote in the Galician language of Northwest Spain, as well as in Spanish. She was born in scandal as the illegitimate daughter of a priest. In 1863 her first poetry collection, Galician Songs, was published on the 17th of May—a date still celebrated as Galician Literature Day. Her book helped the cause of reinstating the Galician language for literary purposes.

Seventeen years later her book New Leaves appeared—a book where she identifies closely with widows, orphans and other destitute individuals.
------When the North Wind blows cold
------and a fire warms our home,
------they pass by my door—
------thin, naked, and hungry—
------and my spirit becomes frozen
------like their bodies.
These homeless become a symbol of Galician poverty. In her latter poetry she also became tormented by spiritual doubts, often crying out in her poetry for God to restore her faith—a prayer that seems to have been answered before her death.

Federico Garcia Lorca is one of the twentieth century poets whose attention to her poetry helped to re-establish her literary reputation.

The following is from the English-language collection of her work, Poems, edited and translated by Anna-Marie Aldaz, Barbara N. Gantt, and Anne C. Bromley.

God Placed A Veil

God placed a veil
over our hearts,
a veil that conceals an abyss
that only He can see.

When I consider what would be revealed
about the one I adore —
humble and on my knees
as one worships the Lord —

if this veil were to drop
suddenly between the two of us,
I tremble...and bowing my head,
I say, "How wise is God!"

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Robert Fitzgerald

Robert Fitzgerald (1910—1985) is well known for his verse translations of Homer's The Odyssey and The Iliad. He also translated works by Sophocles, Euripides, and Virgil. His career began in journalism, working at the New York Herald Tribune and at Time Magazine. Later he held teaching positions at such schools as Princeton and Harvard.

He and his wife Sally edited two of Flannery O'Connor's books. He was also appointed in 1984 to the position now known as the Poet Laureate of the United States.

He expressed his philosophy as:
------"So hard at best is the lot of man, and so great is the beauty he
------can apprehend, that only a religious conception of things can take
------in the extremes and meet the case. Our lifetimes have seen the
------opening of abysses before which the mind quails. But it seems to
------me there are a few things everyone can humbly try to hold onto:
------love and mercy (and humor) in everyday living; the quest for exact
------truth in language and affairs of the intellect; self-recollection
------or prayer; and the peace, the composed energy of art."

The following poem comes from Fitzgerald's fourth poetry collection Spring Shade: Poems, 1931—1970.

Solstitium Saeculare

Winter blows on my eaves,
And dry stalks nod in the snow
Pitted by dripping trees.

The strong sun, brought low,
Gives but an evening glare
Through black twigs' to-and-fro

At noon in the cold air.
A rusty windmill grates.
I sit in a Roman chair,

Musing upon Roman fates,
And make peace with Rome
While the solar Fury waits.

I hold my peace at home
And call to my wondering mind
The chaos I came from—

Waste sea and ancient wind
That sailing long I fought,
Unshriven and thin-skinned.

God knows why I perished not,
But made it here by grace
To harbor beyond my thought,

To the stillness of this place.
Here while I live I hold
Young hope in one embrace

With all the ruin of old,
And bless God's will in each;
And bless His word of gold.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde (1854—1900) is perhaps the greatest wit of the 19th century. He is the author of such plays as The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere's Fan, and A Woman of No Importance — and of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Notorious for having being prosecuted for "acts of gross indecency with other male persons", for having made frivolous comments about the charges themselves in court, and for his conviction and subsequent imprisonment — Wilde is also known for his deathbed conversion. In his poem "Ballad of Reading Gaol", Wilde wrote:
-----------"Ah! Happy they whose hearts can break
-----------And peace of pardon win!
-----------How else may man make straight his plan
-----------And cleanse his soul from Sin?
-----------How else but through a broken heart
-----------May Lord Christ enter in?"

His long interest in Catholicism is shown through such flippant comments as saying the Catholic Church is "for saints and sinners alone — for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do". The following poem, from 1881, also demonstrates that Wilde had long considered the truth that salvation comes through Christ alone.

E Tenebris

Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach thy hand,
For I am drowning in a stormier sea
Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee:
The wine of life is spilt upon the sand,
My heart is as some famine-murdered land,
Whence all good things have perished utterly,
And well I know my soul in Hell must lie
If I this night before God's throne should stand.
'He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase,
Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name
From morn to noon on Carmel's smitten height.'
Nay, peace, I shall behold before the night,
The feet of brass, the robe more white than flame,
The wounded hands, the weary human face.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Danielle Chapman

Danielle Chapman is the author of the poetry collection Delinquent Palaces (2015, TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press). She served as consulting editor for Poetry magazine from 2005-2007, was the director of publishing industry programs for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs for five years, and now lectures in English at Yale University.

Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic and The New Yorker. She and her husband, Christian Wiman, have twin daughters.

The following poem is from Delinquent Palaces.

In Order

I've filled my lungs with fog.
I have sobbed in certain, familiar attics
where each fond object had been
hung or shoved away by hands
whose roughness I had loved,
and the carpet smelled of beloved dogs.

Now that that grief's gone and others come
I come back again to understand
the first one, plum blossoms brushing
the attic window as I look out upon
a yard that has been left untended
by any hand but that of God.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Jan Kochanowski

Jan Kochanowski (1530—1584) is a Polish poet, and the most important Slavic poet before the 19th century. He wrote in both Latin and Polish, significantly influencing verse forms in Polish for generations. The best-known edition of his collected works is the jubilee publication, which appeared in Warsaw in 1884. He also wrote a highly respected translation of the Psalms.

His masterpiece is Laments (1580) — a series of 19 elegies on the death of his two and a half year old daughter Urszula. The following comes from the 1995 translation by Stanisław Barańczak and Seamus Heaney.

Lament 18

My Lord, each of us is your wilful child:
By happiness beguiled,
Entranced by earthly joys,
He soon forgets you and heeds not your voice.

We fail to see how much your Grace attends
Our welfare; which soon ends
When your infinite Good
Is not repaid with infinite gratitude.

Rein us in, Lord, before vain pleasure blinds
Our supercilious minds!
Remind them of your cause
If not with blessings, then at least with blows!

Yet punish us as loving fathers do:
Your wrath would burn us through;
We'd vanish without trace
Like snow when warmed by the sun's piercing rays.

Oh, let your hand not crush those in discord
With you, Eternal Lord;
You hurt us to the core
With your mere frown: we could not withstand more.

Though fools claim you have never been man's friend,
Sooner the world may end
Than you shall ever scorn
A rebel soul, when broken and forlorn.

Great are my sins before you, Lord; yet still
Your mercy and goodwill
Would not let evil reign.
Have pity, Lord, on my despair and pain!

Thanks once more to Burl Horniachek for suggesting this, and other, poets.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Joseph Mary Plunkett

Joseph Mary Plunkett (1887—1916) is an Irish nationalist, poet and journalist. He was born to an affluent family, but one with republican views. He contracted tuberculosis at an early age, which affected his health right into adulthood.

He was one of the organizers of the Easter Uprising of 1916, and a signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. His plans were the ones primarily followed in the rebellion. Although the British government was focused on the war, they sent sufficient troops to quickly quell the uprising. On the morning of the day he was executed he married his fiancee, Grace Gifford, in the prison chapel.

For a short time he was the editor of the literary journal, The Irish Review, and was a co-founder of The Irish Theatre. His first poetry collection, The Circle and the Sword, appeared in 1911, and his second, The Poems of Joseph Mary Plunkett, appeared posthumously.

I see his blood upon the rose

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.
All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.