Monday, September 26, 2016

Jane King

Jane King is a Saint Lucian poet, actor and theatre director. Her poetry collections include, Fellow Traveller which won the James Rodway Memorial Prize (awarded to her by Derek Walcott) and most-recently Performance Anxiety: New and Selected Poems (Peeple Tree, 2013). Her husband is the poet and playwright Kendal Hippolyte.

She is a Dean and senior lecturer in English at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in St Lucia. She has served as a judge and chairperson for the Commonwealth Writers Prize. She is also the founding director of Lighthouse Theatre Company in St Lucia.

Performers are Holy 2

It used to bother me when they said that God
made us to know him, love him and serve him.
It made our creation seem something of a whim
and it was difficult as a child to be overawed
by the concept of a being who needed so much laud.
A bit like the he-made-us-in-his-own-image thing
which seemed to justify so much bad seeing
because we all have somewhere a great need to be adored.

But walking down a brash Manhattan street one day
it occurred to me that the whole world is really a play.
God's into theatre, making all the scenes, casting
the roles, doing sets, lighting, costumes, in a lasting
whole. He needs us as an audience, needs comments from us.
Lord, I'm sorry that I was too slow. You are to be adored.

Posted with permission of the poet. Thanks to Burl Horniachek for suggesting this, and several 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, September 19, 2016

Tommaso Campanella

Tommaso Campanella (1568—1639) is an Italian philosopher, poet, and Dominican friar. He joined the Dominican order in 1583, but was arrested, tried and imprisoned for heresy when his Philosophy Demonstrated by the Senses (1591) was published. Later in Rome he was tried again, and, in 1596, had to renounce his heresy.

Campanella was a leader in a plot to overthrow Spanish rule in Calabria (Southwest Italy). He was arrested, taken to Naples, and tortured into confessing his involvement. To escape death, he feigned madness, and was sentenced to life in prison.

Among his best-known works is a utopia called The City of the Sun, which he wrote during his 27-year imprisonment. Under his ideal government private property, poverty and excessive wealth would not exist. He also wrote lyrical poetry, which is praised for its originality.

On Himself

Freed and chained, accompanied and alone,
screaming, quiet, I confuse the fierce crowd:
mad to the mortal eye of the lowly world,
wise to the divine Intellect of the celestial pole.
With wings clipped on earth, I fly to heaven
in sad flesh but of rejoicing soul;
and, if sometimes the heavy weight pulls me down,
my wings, though, lift me above the hard ground.
Dubious war makes virtues manifest.
Every other time is short compared to eternity,
and nothing is lighter than a welcome weight.
I wear the image of my love on my forehead,
assured of arriving blessed, on time,
where I may always be understood without speaking.

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, September 12, 2016

Eduard Mörike

Eduard Mörike (1804—1875) is a German poet and novelist. Encyclopedia Britannica describes him as "one of Germany's greatest lyric poets." He became a Lutheran pastor in 1834, but was unable to maintain his position due to ill-health. By 1851 he had become a professor of German Literature in Stuttgart, and was able to fulfill this role until his retirement in 1866.

His 1832 novel, Nolten the Painter, first brought him attention as a writer. He is also remembered for his humour—such as in Mozart on the Way to Prague—and his fairy tales—such as The Little Dried-Up Man. His poems, however, are his greatest literary contribution. Mörike's lyrics have been set to music as folk tunes, and for opera.

Ludwig Wittgenstein described Mörike to his teacher Bertrand Russell as, "really a great poet and his poems are among the best things we have..."

The following poem is translated by David Luke.

Divine Remembrance

All things were made by him
(John 1:3)

I saw a painting once, a wondrous work it was,
In a Carthusian monastery I know well.
Today again, my solitary mountain walk
High among rigid scattered rubble of wild rocks
Has brought its lively colours back before my mind.
Beside a stony chasm, edged with scanty green
Where, shaded by two palm-trees, goats that graze on this
Precipitous slope enjoy a meagre nourishment,
It shows the Christ-Child, seated there on barren stone;
A soft white fleece is cushion for his tender limbs.
A little less than childlike looks this lovely boy;
Hot summers (five of them he must have seen by now)
Have gently browned his healthy skin, his delicate cheeks,
His arms and legs which to the knees are covered by
A little yellow tunic, purple at the hem.
Out of his dark eyes glows a quiet inward fire,
Yet a strange nameless charm hovers about his lips.
An aged friendly shepherd, stooping over him,
Has given him a plaything curiously shaped,
A petrifact from the sea's depths. The boy has held
This wonder in his hand and looked at it,
And now his gaze seems startled, widened into thought,
Staring at me, yet actually objectless,
Piercing eternal distances of infinite time:
As if there flickered on his clouded brow a flash
of divine consciousness, an inkling that must fade,
In the same instant; and the Maker of the worlds,
The Word in the Beginning, as an earthly child at play,
Smiling and all unwitting, shows me His own work.

Thanks again to Burl Horniachek for suggesting this post.

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, September 5, 2016

Walter Wangerin Jr.

Walter Wangerin Jr. won the National Book Award for his first novel The Book of the Dun Cow (1978). He has since published more than thirty books, including the poetry collection A Miniature Cathedral and Other Poems (Harper & Row, 1987). His most-recent book is a memoir — Everlasting Is The Past (Rabbit Room Press).

The Book of the Dun Cow was inspired by a fable in Geoffery Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It has been adapted into a musical, which was produced as an Off-Broadway show in 2006. Wangerin has written two sequels The Book of Sorrows (1985) and Peace At Last (2013).

He is a Senior Research Professor at Valparaiso University in Indiana, where he has taught since 1991. Prior to this he served for 16 years as a Lutheran pastor in Evansville, Indiana.

The following poem first appeared in Ruminate.

The Bent World Broods

i.

Among the branches of the wild cherry
tent worms weave white stomachs
of fog and the hungry air

pouches
of visible digestion
consuming green life and the evening leaf

each worm unspindling
the filament which in the night
will draw it peristaltic back to its tent

ii.

Among the branches a white ganglion
writhes in
primitive thought

suspecting soon
a wrack of
metamorphosis

and this
a dysphagic
dying

iii.

Moths flying on an adipose of digested leaf
know nothing
of worms

nor worms
of
resurrection

Posted with permission of the poet.

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, August 29, 2016

John Wheelwright

John Wheelwright (1897—1940) is the author of three poetry collections. He was born into an elite Boston family. After his father had a mental breakdown, and committed suicide in 1912, Wheelwright converted from the traditional Unitarianism of his family, to become an Anglican. During his years at Harvard, however, he found himself clashing with church dogma, particularly in his socialism. In his activism, he showed sympathy for Marxism and Trotsky. Faith in Christ is an important theme throughout his poetry, such as in a series of poems about Thomas.

He made close connections with some major American poets of his day, such as E.E. Cummings whom he knew at Harvard. One of Wheelwright's best-known poems is "Fish Food" — an elegy at the death of his friend Hart Crane, who drowned himself by jumping off a steamship in the Gulf of Mexico.

At age 43 John Wheelwright was killed by a drunk driver. His Selected Poems were published in 1943, and his Collected Poems (New Directions) in 1972.

On a Rococo Crucifix

Guarded by bursts of glory, golden rays, —
Christ, when I see thee hanging there alone
In ivory upon an ebon throne;
Like Pan, pard-girded, chapleted with bays;
I kiss thy mouth, I see thee in a haze,
But not of tears, of heartbreak there is none ...
Is it, oh, Sufferer, my heart is stone?
Am I, in truth, the Judas who betrays?

To hang in shame above a gory knoll,
To die of scorn upon a splintered pole, —
This was not beautiful, I know, for thee ...
Would I have whispered upon Calvary,
"An interesting silhouette, there, see!"
While God groaned in the dark night of his soul?

Seed Pods

Where the small heads of violets
are shrunk to smaller skulls,
in meadows where the mind forgets
its bull fights and its bulls;
the dust of violet or rose
relinquishes its scent
and carries with it where it blows
a lessening remnant
of heresies in equipoise
and balanced argument
with which the mind would have refleshed
the flower's skeleton,
but that it found itself enmeshed
in the web of oblivion.
Therefore, when Gabriel sound the horn
and dust rise through the ground,
our flesh shall turn, on our last morn
fleshless as the horn's sound.

Thanks to Burl Horniachek for recommending this and other poets for Kingdom 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, August 22, 2016

Ambrose of Milan

Ambrose of Milan (339—397) was born in Gaul, and raised in Rome after the death of his father. He is known for his eloquent Latin writings, including sermons and hymns. He was a Roman governor, who had not yet even been baptized. In 374 the people of Milan surprisingly declared him to be their bishop.

The first important doctrine Ambrose supported is that Christ is fully God (as taught in the first verse of John's Gospel). Under his teaching Augustine of Hippo was converted and baptized. One unfortunate influence Ambrose had was to increase the veneration of relics. He introduced congregational singing in Milan to worship services.

Splendor Paternae Gloriae

Splendour of the Father’s glory,
bringing forth light from light,
light of light and source of brightness,
the brightening day of days,

and true Sun slide in,
gleaming with eternal brilliance,
and radiance of the Holy Spirit
pour into our senses.

With prayers let us also call the Father—
the Father of eternal glory,
the Father of mighty grace—
that he may remove the deceitful blame,

that he may shape our actions of vigour,
dullen the teeth of the grudging one,
favourably guide harsh occurrences,
bestow the grace of carrying things through,

guide the mind and rule it
with a chaste, faithful body;
may faith be inflamed with heat,
may it not know the poisons of fraud.

And may Christ be food for us,
and may faith be our drink;
happy, may we drink the sober
inebriation of the Spirit.

May this happy day come to pass,
may modesty exist as the dawn,
faith like the noonday,
and may the mind not know the dusk.

Dawn pulls the chariot,
may the complete dawn come,
the Son complete in the Father,
and the Father complete in the Word.

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, August 15, 2016

S. Trevor Francis

S. Trevor Francis (1834—1925) is best known for the hymn "O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus". He was a merchant, and a lay preacher who belonged to a Plymouth Brethren congregation in London. Ten of his hymns appeared in the Enlarged London Hymnbook of 1873. His book Gems from the Revised Version with Poems appeared in 1891.

Late in life he travelled to Canada, Australia, Palestine, and to Egypt and other parts of north Africa — where he heard many of the lyrics he had written sung in English and other languages. His posthumous collection O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, and Other Poems appeared in 1926 (Pickering & Inglis).

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
is the current of thy love —
leading onward, leading homeward,
to that glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus —
spread his praise from shore to shore!
How he loves us, ever loves us,
changes never, nevermore!
How he watches over his loved ones,
died to call them all his own;
how for them he's interceding,
watching o'er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
love of every love the best!
'Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
'tis a haven sweet of rest!
O, the deep, deep love of Jesus —
'tis heaven of heavens to me;
and it lifts me up to glory,
for it lifts me up to thee!

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.