Poems for the spiritual journey

RublevRublev Shipmate
edited April 14 in Ecclesiantics
The Heart's Time by Janet Morley gives a poem a day for Lent and Easter. And it's a good resource for spiritual reflection in Holy Week.

My favourite poem is 'I am the great sun' which draws upon the Reproaches of Holy Week and the 'I Am' sayings of John's gospel.

Anyone else got a good recommendation?


"I am the great sun

From a Normandy crucifix of 1632

... [heavy edit to rectify copyright infringement] ...

Seal up your soul with tears, and never blame me"

Charles Causley.

Edit: copyright. Link will follow

Comments

  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ and queer * ... he was forced on us at school when we were 17 and I've never forgotten him or his work ...

    *like the honour of "DFC and Bar"
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited April 14
    You must be the same age as me. When I was 17 my English Lit class was given the choice between TS Eliots The Wasteland and GM Hopkins The Wreck of the Deutschland. So we went for the lesser of two evils and struggled through the problem of theodicy in sprung rhythm.

    Now I am glad that I read that poem: 'I greet Him the days that I meet Him and bless when I understand.' Yes.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    Hosting

    Please note: it is absolutely a terrible way to make the Baby Jesus and Admins and Cthulu and Who Knows Who Else cry to quote slabs of poetry still in copyright. For safety's sake I suggest the poet needs tohave been dead since Moses was a baby for it to be okay to print his/her words. The actual law, generally, across the globe, is the copyright expires approximately fifty years after the author's death ... but even that can sometimes be extended.

    Basically then .. a line ... a link ... then go and cradle happy thoughts in the bath or somewhere.

    Copyright infringements will be dealt with severely

    /Hosting

    PS ... the OP poem can be seen at https://stmargaretsprestwich.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/i-am-the-great-sun-charles-causleyjussi-chydenius/ ... and it's predawn here in the antipodes so I would need more coffee to that link look sleek and sexy
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I didn't know that, so sorry for making the baby Jesus cry. 'I am the great sun' was written in 1957 so hopefully the copyright contract assassins will not come looking for me on the ship.
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    edited April 14
    Rublev wrote: »
    You must be the same age as me. When I was 17 my English Lit class was given the choice between TS Eliots The Wasteland and GM Hopkins The Wreck of the Deutschland.

    Probly not and certainly in Another Country
    Another thing that makes the Baby Jesus (or at least the Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman) cry is to refer to him as "GM Hopkins".
  • agingjbagingjb Shipmate
    Since T.S.Eliot was mentioned, I would advocate (but certainly not quote here) Four Quartets, and Journey of the Magi.

  • MiffyMiffy Shipmate
    Rublev wrote: »
    You must be the same age as me. When I was 17 my English Lit class was given the choice between TS Eliots The Wasteland and GM Hopkins The Wreck of the Deutschland. So we went for the lesser of two evils and struggled through the problem of theodicy in sprung rhythm.

    Now I am glad that I read that poem: 'I greet Him the days that I meet Him and bless when I understand.' Yes.

    We were introduced to Pied Beauty and God’s Grandeur at school at the age of nine. Yes, really! I’m not sure whether sprung rhythm makes learning by heart any easier or not at that stage, especially when part of said requirement was to copy it out from memory, commas, semicolons and all!

    It’s not dampened my love of Hopkin’s poetry, thankfully, even if it had taken many years to get to that point.

  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I love the poem God's Grandeur and it's one of the few that I do know by heart. I was talking to my SD about learning poems at school and he thought that this was now on the decline with so much on the curriculum. But it's helpful to learn poems when you are young and have a good memory. I wish that I had memorised more of them. But if you can just tap a smartphone, then would you go to the trouble?
  • For those unfamiliar with his work Malcolm Guite publishes his own poetry & commentary and reflections on others work on his blog https://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/blog/
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Thank you so much for posting this link. I have just read through it and the poems are amazing!
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    I have always delighted in this ditty from X.J. Kennedy. I trust it isn't too flip for Holy Week.
  • BarnabasBarnabas Shipmate
    Friday's Child - W H Auden, for Holy Week; any time Charles Causley (again) "Ballad of the Bread Man". Always find something new in those.
  • AnselminaAnselmina Shipmate
    For those unfamiliar with his work Malcolm Guite publishes his own poetry & commentary and reflections on others work on his blog https://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/blog/

    Really love some of his poems. Great for sermons, too.

    With reference to the Grandeur of God. Years ago I used to listen to an anthem on an old cassette tape of a cathedral choir singing to the words of this poem. Except I didn't know what they were singing: I kept hearing the words: The world is charged with a glandular God, a glandular God....' In a funny way I think Hopkins would have approved.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    Rublev wrote: »
    I didn't know that, so sorry for making the baby Jesus cry. 'I am the great sun' was written in 1957 so hopefully the copyright contract assassins will not come looking for me on the ship.

    :fearful:

    :wink:
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I'm sure the Hosts have strategies in place for dealing with visiting assassins :wink:
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    Mwahaha
  • The Fine City is graced with the presence of Malcolm Guite, so we have a whole week of rather wonderful sonnets being read and amplified by their author.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Malcolm Guite is a remarkably creative theologian. I've heard him lead a session on Praying with Poetry. And I have attended his Meditative Eucharist evening services which have beautiful liturgies. I'd like to attend one of his retreats sometime.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Madeleine L'Engle's very short poem on the Incarnation.

    Now's the irrational season
    When love blooms bright and wild
    If Mary had been full of reason
    There'd have been no room for the Child.
  • May I recommend the corpus of Edna St Millay's poems?

    She identified the losses well as I felt them: "Sorrow like a ceaseless rain
    Beats upon my heart.
    People twist and scream in pain, --
    Dawn will find them still again;
    This has neither wax nor wane,...." (Sorrow). First Fig from Figs and Thistles from the same pen made me believe I might live again. If my candle must "out, out" like Macbeth says I will effing light it brightly.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    edited April 16
    I'm a sucker for Donne.

    Sonnet XIV strikes me with this:
    Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
    Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
    Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

    At this time of year I'm also partial to:
    Now Thou art lifted up, draw me to Thee,
    And at Thy death giving such liberal dole,
    Moist with one drop of Thy blood my dry soul.
    from La Corona - Crucifying.

    And finally, if this is not read at my funeral I will haunt everyone present for eternity...I hope I have some chains. :wink: It ends:
    But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
    Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore ;
    And having done that, Thou hast done ;
    I fear no more.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    The Holy Sonnets of John Donne are perfect for Holy Week and I'm now going to read them.

    Do you like The Spiritual Canticle of St John of the Cross?

    Stanza XI

    Reveal your presence,
    and may the vision of your beauty be my death;
    for the sickness of love
    is not cured,
    save by your very presence and image.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    I have to thank shipmate Nunc Dimittis for introducing me to St John of the Cross 15 or more years ago... I do indeed love the stanza you shared -- the imagery strikes me very powerfully: and I find it stays in my mind.

    Thank you for bringing it to mind. I gave away my books before I moved over here last year...I think I need to replace my copy or find a webpage source.
  • LothlorienLothlorien All Saints Host
    Thank you for those, Climacus and Rublev. I was already fairly rung out by the fire at Notre Dame, like many others, then you post these words. I rarely cry, but all these short lines made me weep. Donne and Gerard Manley Hopkins both affect me.

    When I unpacked here five months ago I found I had three copies of Hopkins’ poetry. Perhaps I needed to replace a misplaced copy so bought another. Twice.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    The mystic poets have a lot of insight into matters of faith, don't they? I read Donne's 19 Holy Sonnets yesterday afternoon which was a nice thing to do in Holy Week. I thought Sonnet 14 'Batter my heart, three person'd God' was the best one but there is also Sonnet 13 'What if this present were the world's last night?' I think I will have to read these every year for Holy Week.
  • MiffyMiffy Shipmate
    My copy of Ted Loder’s ‘Guerillas of Grace’ is falling apart through heavy use. An especial favourite being his ‘Ground Me in Your Grace;’ simple, profound, challenging.

    I love the imagery and colour of Stewart Henderson’s poetry. The writing of the late lamented John O’Donahue and much of the output of the Iona Community have also played a significant part in my spiritual journey.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    I haved just been introduced to the work of Belfast poet Pádraig Ó Tuama ... powerful stuff
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    The choral group I sing with commissioned a setting of this lovely little poem in honor of our 90th anniversary. I hope soon to post a YouTube clip of us singing it.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Please let us know when you do.

    James Weldon Johnson. :notworthy:
  • caroline444caroline444 Shipmate
    Ben Okri, An Africa Elegy. Have problems with the last line, but this poem moves me deeply.
    https://gratefulness.org/resource/an-african-elegy/
  • This moved me much: http://rmadisonj.blogspot.com/2006/04/lachrimae-amantis-geoffrey-hill.html

    I found it in Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry, an incredibly well-chosen collection to this perhaps-naive reader.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Everything by Geoffrey Hill is worth consideration, and that cycle in particular is great.

    The anthology also looks quite good. There’s only one or two changes I’d make, not that I know anything, but thanks for the recommendation!
  • At our (state) high school in the 1950's we had a keen young English teacher (later an Anglican priest) who introduced me to G M Hopkins whom I still love. A later university lecturer (not a Christian) introduced me to T S Eliot and Donne. Both are still part of my readings and reflections.
  • Timo Pax wrote: »
    This moved me much: http://rmadisonj.blogspot.com/2006/04/lachrimae-amantis-geoffrey-hill.html

    I found it in Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry, an incredibly well-chosen collection to this perhaps-naive reader.

    So pleased to see Geoffrey Hill mentioned. I found his Mercian Poems and The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Peguy in my 20s and have read him ever since, although I have't yet tackled his last work The Book of Baruch.

    He reminds me at times of a more cerebral, ironic even despairing George Herbert. His later poems are much happier than his early work, but I prefer the early poems.

    Here's a favourite of mine from the Poetry Foundation website, Tenebrae.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Shipmate
    edited September 12
    Coming from a different place, I wanted to just mention some poetry that is 'secular' rather than 'spiritual' and how it has challenged and comforted me in my own life.

    For some time I've been working through issues to do with the poetics of disability and questioning what I believe I am doing when I pray for healing in intercessory prayer. For some years now, I have lived with visual disability, with numerous sight issues and complete blindness in my right eye (rubeotic glacoma). I don't pray for healing of my own disability because I have found that acceptance of this limitation is more helpful for me. And I don't feel less than whole because of being partially sighted.

    Larry Eigner wrote over 3 000 poems on a manual Royal typewriter with the thumb and index finger of his right hand. Disabled by a forceps injury at birth, Eigner lived with cerebral palsy his whole life. His poems are unsentimental, oblique, tough-minded. Larry Eiger's great preoccupation was motion observed from a place of not moving, how to respond and interact without being able to get up and go to someone, reach out a hand or dance with a loved one.

    Larry Eiger's to make myself a world

  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    I find a lot of the old Office Hymns stick with me more as poetry than as song because I usually read the office privately. The richness of their imagery and their abundance of Biblical allusion gets the spiritual side of the brain ticking over quite briskly.

    George Herbert is another perennial favourite, and I have a soft spot for John Keble's Christian Year in its "Wordsworth-and-water" way. A couple of Wilfred Owen's poems - Abraham and S.I.W. have remained etched on my brain since I was 17.

    Other than that poetry is a reasonably hopeless cause with me.
  • Galilit wrote: »
    Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ and queer * ... he was forced on us at school when we were 17 and I've never forgotten him or his work ...

    *like the honour of "DFC and Bar"

    I loved his "The Windhover (to Christ our Lord)" for the sheer sound of it.
  • Bumping this up because I'm just getting back into my favourite Modernist visionary, David Jones and his Anathemata.
  • I am returning to Mary Oliver's poem Wild Geese. It is one of those poems I go back to again and again knowing I have not yet learnt the lessons it would teach.

    Not it is not particularly Christian nor is much of Mary Oliver's work but it speaks to my journey.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    Bumping this up because I'm just getting back into my favourite Modernist visionary, David Jones and his Anathemata.

    David Jones deserves to be constantly mentioned, as often as possible, and the Anathemata particularly so. My taste aligns very much with yours on this.
  • @ECraigR as I was posting, I thought that somebody here would have wrestled with The Anathemata and I'm happy to know another reader of Jones! I bought a copy of Anathemata before In Parenthesis, but couldn't understand the later epic until I had read Jones' poetic and demotic account of his service in the trenches of WWI.

    There's s brief biographical mention of how he survives the Somme and is dodging about during a lull in bombardment collecting firewood and looks into a small cattle byre hoping for dry wood. Inside he sees a Catholic priest saying Mass with ammunition boxes for an altar, silent men kneeling in the cramped darkness. For Jones, this glimpse of an act that would not end the war or win the war, that was unnecessary and 'useless' except in a symbolic sense, would be the impulse leading to his conversion and insight into what is 'set apart' as art and sacrament, what will continue on through war and the collapse of civilizations, the need for worship.
  • @Jengie Jon that poem is one of my favourites and meant a great deal to me working through difficult times in my 30s. With Kathleen Jamie, Oliver is also an amazing nature poet.

    The poem I thought about when I heard Mary Oliver had died was The Summer Day with its famous closing lines:

    Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    with your one wild and precious life?
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