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.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Daniel Berrigan

Daniel Berrigan (1921—2016) is a Jesuit priest and activist who, along with his brother Philip, spoke out as Christians against the Vietnam War. He is the author of more than 50 books, including several collections of poetry. He is the first priest to ever be on the FBI's "most wanted list", he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in 1971, and is that "radical priest" referred to in Paul Simon's song "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard". He was sentenced to three years in prison for burning 378 draft files, taken from a draft-board office in Cantonville, Maryland — and was released in 1972.

He died on April 30th at the age of 94. Berrigan is featured in the August 2016 issue of Sojourners. Jim Wallis, one of the writers honouring Daniel Berrigan in that issue, wrote:
-----"Here were some Christians who were saying and doing what I
-----thought the gospel said—and what nobody in my white evangelical
-----world was saying or doing. The witness of the Berrigans helped
-----keep my hope for faith from dying altogether. African-American
-----Christians fighting for justice and that 'Berrigan handful' of
-----Christians fighting for peace paved the way for my return to
-----faith."

The following poem is from Daniel Berrigan's book, And the Risen Bread: Selected Poems, 1957—1997 .

A Prayer to the Blessed Trinity

I'm locked into the sins of General Motors
My guts are in revolt at the culinary equivocations of General Foods
Hang over me like an evil shekinah, the missiles of General Electric.
Now we shall go from the Generals to the Particulars.
Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Let me shake your right hands in the above mentioned order
Unmoved Motor, Food for Thought, Electric One.
I like you better than your earthly idols.
You seem honest and clear-minded and reasonably resolved
To make good on your promise.
Please: owe it to yourselves not less than to us,
Warn your people: beware of adulterations.

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 1, 2016

Coventry Patmore

Coventry Patmore (1823—1896) was associated with the Pre-Raphelites including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Alice Meynell. He worked for the British Museum from 1846 to 1865.

His best-known work is the four-volume Angel in the House which presents an ideal of Victorian married life. Because ideas of what feminism should be have been much critiqued ever since, Patmore's popularity was short-lived. Even so, he expressed certain thoughts which should transcend fashion:
-----"Female and male God made the man,
-----His image is the whole not half;
-----And in our love we dimly scan
-----The love which is between himself."

Besides being a poet, he published work as an art critic.

To the Body

Creation’s and Creator’s crowning good;
Wall of infinitude;
Foundation of the sky,
In Heaven forecast
And longed for from eternity,
Though laid the last;
Reverberating dome,
Of music cunningly built home
Against the void and indolent disgrace
Of unresponsive space;
Little, sequestered pleasure-house
For God and for His Spouse;
Elaborately, yea, past conceiving, fair,
Since, from the graced decorum of the hair,
Even to the tingling, sweet
Soles of the simple, earth-confiding feet,
And from the inmost heart
Outwards unto the thin
Silk curtains of the skin,
Every least part
Astonished hears
And sweet replies to some like region of the spheres;
Formed for a dignity prophets but darkly name,
Lest shameless men cry ‘Shame!’
So rich with wealth concealed
That Heaven and Hell fight chiefly for this field;
Clinging to everything that pleases thee
With indefectible fidelity;
Alas, so true
To all thy friendships that no grace
Thee from thy sin can wholly disembrace;
Which thus ’bides with thee as the Jebusite,
That, maugre all God’s promises could do,
The chosen People never conquered quite;
Who therefore lived with them,
And that by formal truce and as of right,
In metropolitan Jerusalem.
For which false fealty
Thou needs must, for a season, lie
In the grave’s arms, foul and unshriven,
Albeit, in Heaven,
Thy crimson-throbbing Glow
Into its old abode aye pants to go,
And does with envy see
Enoch, Elijah, and the Lady, she
Who left the roses in her body’s lieu.
O, if the pleasures I have known in thee
But my poor faith’s poor first-fruits be,
What quintessential, keen, ethereal bliss
Then shall be his
Who has thy birth-time’s consecrating dew
For death’s sweet chrism retained,
Quick, tender, virginal, and unprofaned!

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, July 25, 2016

David Wright

David Wright is a poet born in central Illinois. He is the author of two poetry collections — the most recent of which is The Small Books of Bach (2014, Wipf and Stock). As an academic he has taught at University of Illinois, Wheaton College, and Richland Community College, and now teaches at Monmouth College — all of which are in Illinois.

He has also completed a book of hymns entitled A Field of Voices, with the music composed by James E. Clemens. The following poem is from his 2003 book, A Liturgy for Stones.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus

When the broken hearted spirit arrives, no one knows
how it enters the room, what to call the groaning ghost.

It could be flame, could be wind, could be song, or syllables
arcing on lips like sparks, arching tongues
to unfamiliar diction, speech so inarticulate and pure.

Wind, flame, words rush over us,
out of us, in a humiliating gush,
until the air bears the sounds of wings.

A dove hovers, trapped in our room,
its rounded, translucent blue head
dazed against the windows.

God is a small, brown-grey, beautiful bird
beating wings against unbreachable glass?

The comforter’s voice vibrates in the spirit-drunk:
Shut up and listen. Lift up the sash.

Let the dove loose, a flame to singe the streets and sky.

Let untamed language fall on a thousand unsuspecting tongues.

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, July 18, 2016

Geoffrey Hill*

Geoffrey Hill (1932—2016), who has been called Britain's greatest post-war poet, died on June 30th at his home in Cambridge, England. He had taught at Boston University for 18 years, and from 2010 to 2015 held the position of Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.

Rowan Williams recently wrote in The Guardian that Hill's poetry has
-----"a sheer fluency with sound that can appear in lyrical elegance,
-----grinding puns, carefully calculated shifts of tone or register,
-----[and] multilingual play. He speaks from deep inside his language.
-----The reader sees the ripple on the surface, puzzling, even
-----apparently arbitrary; but not the fathoms-down movement on the
-----seabed. To read with understanding, you have to join him down
-----there..."

He was knighted Sir Geoffrey Hill in 2012. Broken Hierarchies: Collected Poems 1952-2012 was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. His wife, Alice Goodman, is an Anglican Priest.

Tenebrae

He was so tired that he was scarcely able to hear a note of the songs: he felt imprisoned in a cold region where his brain was numb and his spirit was isolated.

1
Requite this angel whose
flushed and thirsting face
stoops to the sacrifice
out of which it arose.
This is the lord Eros
of grief who pities
no one; it is
Lazarus with his sores.

2
And you, who with your soft but searching voice
drew me out of the sleep where I was lost,
who held me near your heart that I might rest
confiding in the darkness of your choice:
possessed by you I chose to have no choice,
fulfilled in you I sought no further quest.
You keep me, now, in dread that quenches trust,
in desolation where my sins rejoice.
As I am passionate so you with pain
turn my desire; as you seem passionless
so I recoil from all that I would gain,
wounding myself upon forgetfulness,
false ecstasies, which you in truth sustain
as you sustain each item of your cross.

3
Veni Redemptor, but not in our time.
Christus Resurgens, quite out of this world.
‘Ave’ we cry; the echoes are returned.
Amor Carnalis is our dwelling-place.

4
O light of light, supreme delight;
grace on our lips to our disgrace.
Time roosts on all such golden wrists;
our leanness is our luxury.
Our love is what we love to have;
our faith is in our festivals.

5
Stupefying images of grief-in-dream,
succubae to my natural grief of heart,
cling to me, then; you who will not desert
your love nor lose him in some blank of time.
You come with all the licence of her name
to tell me you are mine. But you are not
and she is not. Can my own breath be hurt
by breathless shadows groaning in their game?
It can. The best societies of hell
acknowledge this, aroused by what they know:
consummate rage recaptured there in full
as faithfulness demands it, blow for blow,
and rectitude that mimics its own fall
reeling with sensual abstinence and woe.

6
This is the ash-pit of the lily-fire,
this is the questioning at the long tables,
this is true marriage of the self-in-self,
this is a raging solitude of desire,
this is the chorus of obscene consent,
this is a single voice of purest praise.

7
He wounds with ecstasy. All
the wounds are his own.
He wears the martyr’s crown.
He is the Lord of Misrule.
He is the Master of the Leaping Figures,
the motley factions.
Revelling in auguries
he is the Weeper of the Valedictions.

8
Music survives, composing her own sphere,
Angel of Tones, Medusa, Queen of the Air,
and when we would accost her with real cries
silver on silver thrills itself to ice.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Geoffrey Hill: first 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, July 11, 2016

Diane Glancy

Diane Glancy is a Christian writer with a joint Cherokee and English/German family heritage. She is professor emerita at Macalester College. She has received many honours, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas, and the 2016 Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Her Christian faith and native heritage intersect within her writing.

In her book The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris says:
-----"I once had the great pleasure of hearing the poet Diane Glancy
-----astound a group of clergy...by saying that she loved Christianity
-----because it was a blood religion. People gasped in shock; I was
-----overjoyed, thinking, Hit 'em, Diane; hit 'em where they live...
-----Diane told the clergy that she appreciated the relation of the
-----Christian religion to words. "The creation came into being when
-----God spoke," she said, reminding us of Paul's belief that "faith
-----comes through hearing." Diane saw this regard for words as
-----connected not only to writing but to living. "You build a world
-----in what you say," she said. "Words — as I speak or write them —
-----make a path on which I walk."

Some of Glancy's recent publications include three novels from Wipf & Stock — Uprising of the Goats, One of Us and Ironic Witness — and her most-recent poetry collection Report to the Department of the Interior (2015, University of New Mexico Press).

How to Explain Christ to the Unsaved

An awkward cousin who could not get a date, and you didn't know anyone who would go out with him. Too dark and ruddy. Too swarthy and crazy in the eye. He had a slow walk you could out-pace. He was someone you thought you could outrun. But he could stop you dead with something he said. Or his voice could break into thunder. He was? Concerned. Preoccupied. You remember Crazy Horse with his eye on the next world. His horse with a mission too. Not just holy but knowing how to get down to it of late. No one else would come by or call, but this cowboy who rode a donkey and would end up wearing a briar or thorns, would hang around. Who was this prophet, this traveling man, this nomad born with animals who never seemed to connect? He was jovial as a penitentiary. He became a grandfather spirit, and his believers, Black Elks who saw into the sky. He was too tall, too lanky. He was not always at the table for his cabbage and rabbit. He was a loner. Atonement was never a group act but for the sheep and bullocks and rams, I suppose, over the burnt alters of old encampments. But he was self-possessed. A mean Jesus and the soldiers nailed him to a cross. He was in hell three days and brought out everyone who wanted to take a salt bath in his seas and peel off their mind and squeal to enter his kingdom he had just named, heaven. Now he sleeps, they taunt, but it may be the sleep Adam slept when a rib was taken for you know who, and if Christ sleeps, it is the sleep while the cross is taken from him, called, rib bone for a bride.

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.