It is so exciting to read of the boat, the escape to Chincoteague Island and the road trip plans. We had fun sitting around the table all together at lunch and looking at the pictures of each stop on the road trip.

Elizabeth and Nessa are not as sick but still not 100%. Nessa is very excited about our vacation. We haven’t even started and she has already mentioned several times that it is going to be very sad when it is over.

The Good Friday poetry reading was a blessing. I pasted the poems below. A student’s parent who teaches poetry at Messiah College selected them. Students read and responded to each poem, but I have only included two of the responses. Afterward, we read Psalm 51 and Mark 15:21-47, prayed silently and sang “Oh Sacred Head, Now Wounded.”

John Donne
HOLY SONNETS. I.

THOU hast made me, and shall Thy work decay ?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste ;
I run to death, and Death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way ;
Despair behind, and Death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh.
Only Thou art above, and when towards Thee
By Thy leave I can look, I rise again ;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour myself I can sustain.
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.

John Donne
HOLY SONNETS. V.

I am a little world made cunningly
Of elements, and an angelic sprite ;
But black sin hath betray’d to endless night
My world’s both parts, and, O, both parts must die.
You which beyond that heaven which was most high
Have found new spheres, and of new land can write,
Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might
Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,
Or wash it if it must be drown’d no more.
But O, it must be burnt ; alas ! the fire
Of lust and envy burnt it heretofore,
And made it fouler ; let their flames retire,
And burn me, O Lord, with a fiery zeal
Of Thee and Thy house, which doth in eating heal.

The Altar
by George Herbert

A broken ALTAR, Lord thy servant rears,
Made of a heart, and cemented with teares:
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workmans tool hath touch’d the same
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow’r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame,
To praise thy Name:
That if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
O let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctifie this ALTAR to be thine.

THE SINNER.
by George Herbert

LORD, how I am all ague, when I seek
What I have treasur’d in my memorie !
Since, if my soul make even with the week,
Each seventh note by right is due to thee.
I finde there quarries of pil’d vanities,
But shreds of holinesse, that dare not venture
To shew their face, since crosse to thy decrees :
There the circumference earth is, heav’n the centre.
In so much dregs the quintessence is small :
The spirit and good extract of my heart
Comes to about the many hundredth part.
Yet, Lord, restore thine image, heare my call :
And though my hard heart scarce to thee can grone,
Remember that thou once didst write in stone.

THE PULLEY.
by George Herbert

WHEN God at first made man,
Having a glasse of blessings standing by ;
Let us (said he) poure on him all we can :
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.

So strength first made a way ;
Then beautie flow’d, then wisdome, honour, pleasure :
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that alone, of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottome lay.

For if I should (said he)
Bestow this jewell also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts in stead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature :
So both should losers be.

Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlesnesse :
Let him be rich and wearie, that at least,
If goodnesse leade him not, yet wearinesse
May tosse him to my breast.

Supernatural Love
by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

My father at the dictionary-stand
Touches the page to fully understand
The lamplit answer, tilting in his hand

His slowly scanning magnifying lens,
A blurry, glistening circle he suspends
Above the word “Carnation.” Then he bends

So near his eyes are magnified and blurred,
One finger on the miniature word,
As if he touched a single key and heard

A distant, plucked, infinitesimal string,
“The obligation due to every thing
That’s smaller than the universe.” I bring

My sewing meedle close enough that I
Can watch my father through the needle’s eye,
As through a lens ground for a butterfly

Who peers down flower-hallways toward a room
Shadowed and fathomed as this study’s gloom
Where, as a scholar bends above a tomb

To read what’s buried there, he bends to pore
Over the Latin blossom. I am four,
I spill my pins and needles on the floor

Trying to stitch “Beloved” X by X.
My dangerous, bright needle’s point connects
Myself illiterate to this perfect text

I cannot read. My father puzzles why
It is my habit to identify
Carnations as “Christ’s flowers,” knowing I

Can give no explanation but “Because.”
Word-roots blossom in speechless messages
The way the thread behind my sampler does

Where following each X I awkward move
My needle through the word whose root is love.
He reads, “A pink variety of Clove,

Carnatio, the Latin, meaning flesh.”
As if the bud’s essential oils brush
Christ’s fragrance through the room, the iron-fresh

Odor carnations have floats up to me,
A drifted, secret, bitter ecstacy,
The stems squeak in my scissors, Child, it’s me,

He turns the page to “Clove” and reads aloud:
“The clove, a spice, dried from a flower-bud.”
Then twice, as if he hasn’t understood,

He reads, “From the French, for clou, meaning a nail.”
He gazes, motionless. “Meaning a nail.”
The incarnation blossoms, flesh and nail,

I twist my threads like stems into a knot
And smooth “Beloved,” but my needle caught
Withing the threads, Thy blood so dearly bought,

The needle strikes my finger to the bone.
I lift my hand, it is myself I’ve sewn,
The flesh laid bare, the threads of blood my own,

I lift my hand in startled agony
And call upon his name, “Daddy daddy”–
My father’s hand touches the injury

As lightly as he toughed the page before,
Where incarnation bloomed from roots that bore
The flowers I called Christ’s when I was four.

Journey of the Magi
by T.S. Eliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we
preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

As I Walked Out One Evening
by W.H. Auden

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
‘Love has no ending.

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

‘Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver’s brilliant bow.

‘O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you’ve missed.

‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

‘O look, look in the mirror?
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

‘O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.’

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.

Response to Auden’s “As I Walked Out One Evening”
by Steven Rayner

This poem can basically be split into three parts with distinct topics. The first five stanzas talk of a lover’s profession of never-ending love, the next four show the imperfection and corruption of that profession, and the last six speak out against the inconsistency between the first two sections.

Placed amongst all these parts, and interspersed with metaphors and even allusions to English folk songs, are a good number of biblical images and references; such as the comparison to people being like wheat fields ripe for the harvest (John 4:35, stanza 1), the title “first love” (Rev. 2:4, stanza 5), and the call to love your neighbor (Mt. 22:39, stanza 14). Another biblical reference is created by the imagery of cleansing hands in a basin (stanza 10), which, since we are in the middle of Holy Week, should immediately bring to mind Pontius Pilate’s symbolic hand washing.

In fact, the entire poem simulates the mindset of the crowd that followed Peter in proclaiming undying love for Christ, and in a short matter of time was denying him and crying out for his death. The poem says it is the passage and corruption of Time that provokes this response, but I think that is only part of the answer. A more complete explanation of this human fickleness is brought out in the last two lines of the second to last stanza: “You shall love your crooked neighbor / With your crooked heart.” This was the calling of Peter and the early church, and is still our calling today. Be reminded this week that, imperfect as we are, we have been saved in spite of our inconsistent pursuit of Christ and called, even in our weakness and crookedness, to love each other.

Finally, this is a response by Zoe Perrin to the poem that I posted a couple days ago: Prado’s “Mobiles.”

In ‘Mobiles’, Adelia Prado begins by declaring that there is no shortage of tormented things in this world. She goes on to give us luminous particulars of these plagued things but unexpectedly an image of the perfection in the world breaks into the poem: “a young chicken perfect down to the nails, a plumed, living, invincible delicateness no man ever made with his hands….” The language to describe this is struck with awe. The speaker recounts her restless hunger for satisfaction, her craving for “something that neither dies nor withers” and the way in which desire for the larger beauty sends her, sometimes sinfully, after the smaller ones—“dreams of fame and travel, extraordinary men offering me necklaces…” Ultimately she comes to the mountain of her desire realizing that only the “face of God…will kill (our) hunger” will meet our “ravenous look” and quench it with his “unmoving beauty.” This week we are looking at these very desires, these ravenous ruling desires. From there we turn to the beauty of God in Christ and what he has done for us, what it cost him, what we are given through it. Prado gives us the sensation of ourselves in the very form of the poem’s wandering restless lines, and piled up sometimes random images. She peels back the layers of desire to get to the bone of the real thing. Even as the poem gets closer it gets starker, the lines get shorter, until we stop short at the beauty of God.

Comments are closed.