The Creator became the heart of creationwhen in Christ Jesus He took on our flesh. This is no small thing. He who is one hundred percent divine became also one hundred percent man: true God, true man. What but the love that existed in the Trinitarian God frometernity could cause Him who created all that exists and all that has being to take on the rescue of His creatures in this humbling fashion, enduring the darkness of our world and enduring our death in order to free us from evil and death eternally! So great is His love for us that He came down at Christmas to raise us up with Christ and give us Himself for all eternity.
So we rejoice! We rejoice at such a love, such a Creator, such a God who gave Himself for usand to us when He who is “Love came down at Christmas.”And we thank Him, and praise Him, and glorify and worship Him who through this life has promised to never leave us nor forsake us for He has made us His children in Christ Jesus! Hallelujah! For the Lord God eternal reigns! Hallelujah!
Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love Divine, Love was born at Christmas, Star and Angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead, Love Incarnate, Love Divine, Worship we our Jesus, But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token, Love be yours and love be mine, Love to God and all men, Love for plea and gift and sign.
Christina Rossetti (1885)
A note to my readers and blogger friends: I will be taking a blogging break for a while and look to reconnect in the New Year. Merry Christmas to all and to all, best wishes for a Happy New Year!
Her eyes are busy with light Though I worry her with my doubts There are candles in picture windows Flirty love ballads on stereos Ivy stabbed with holly Santas under mistletoe And I can’t get enough of the night.
Her eyes are busy with light Though I fear her faith is naïve Government thugs surveil, killing with drones Children trafficked in towns, families ripped Credit flows lucre between banks into pockets Drugs dull, cocktails insensitize till we all go aground And I burrow into the darkness of the night.
Her eyes are busy with light Her hopes against my fears She doesn’t see weakness in a babe in a manger She doesn’t see defeat in a man on a cross She doesn’t see what I see in a handful of dust When the devil comes calling to offer a favor And I run like the dickens to add to my scars.
O Winter, O Church Bells, O Dawn of revelation! Would I could see her Savior, hear hallelujahs Know what it feels like to know darkness conquered Have peace and contentment, courage in the fight To overthrow temptations and to laugh at my weakness With Christ as my Brother, crying ‘Abba! Father!” And wordless prayers by the Spirit means I’m not alone.
In such a heart as mine, O Father, enter in In such a world as mine, O Christ, enter in In such a darkness as this, O Spirit, enter in Your call I hear above the noise Your love for me over unbelief overflows Before I can seek You, God, You have sought me To save and to keep me eternally in You.
My eyes are busy with His Light My life is bursting with His Life My weakness melts in His Strength The darkness dispersed by His Word The pain we bear makes me aware That God suffered in His flesh To deliver us from death And, hallelujah, our eyes are busy with Light!
[Jesus said,] “If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
This is not a show Don’t let it fool you This baby escaped a tyrant’s slaughter Not a carpet of flowers
Jesus knew hummus before kosher At Egyptian tables to eat (Rimbaud yawns!) These wise visitors bore gifts for an exile Oh glorious! for the King of kings
We beg/steal/borrow tv Santa’s wigs Play jolly, play Marley’s ghost Turn engines of Christmas to erupt Merry, when Jesus was born for sorrow.
Count His bones on the tree, no beauty This mother will see, only a sword piercing From cross to myrrh-anointed shroud
An ocean, an ocean of darkness to bear A birthday for a Man whose death will be the death of Death Erupt in hallelujah! Turn nuns into acrobats!
This is not a show Don’t let it fool you This baby escaped a tyrant’s slaughter Not spring weather on a tapestry
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Shay/Fireblossom's "Word Garden Word List #5 (Gregory Corso)"
"What we do here is this: write a poem using at least 3 of the twenty words on the following list. Your poem need not have anything to do with Corso except for the three (or more) words. The list is a springboard."
Unlooked for. You were unlooked for. Unhoped for. You were unhoped for. Where I was You were not. Where You were I was not. Sudden. Then. It was sudden. Not the shuddering of wings, not of swan. Angels watched. Unwatched for. What are you looking at? Put ‘em back, your hallelujahs. Because I’m a mess. A blubbering mess. Mess of sticky goo, sin. Call it what you will. It was painful, this birth. This death. At twenty. A resurrection in You. In You. In You. In You. I can’t get over You. I can’t get over You. You know me through and through. You know me through and through. You swaddled me not in a manger. You fed me at Your breast Your Holy Spirit milk. You hid me in Egypt. You found me at Jacob’s well. You suffer me a cross to bear You bore it as well. For me. For me. You birthed me. You loved me. It’s not a fluke of biology this Light as in Damascus. This Love, this Light, this manger this cross, this thorny crown this night, this life over which this darkness cannot roll. This Love is Light is mine.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. … The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:1-5, 9-13
Grace at dVerse asks us to write either in the form of Kwansaba or write a poem of blessing or praise in the style of David Whyte. Click on Mr. Linky and join us for the last meeting of 2021 at the dVerse bar.
Image credit: Photo by Andre Moura from pexels
“What is all this love for if we have to walk into the dark?” (M.R. James)
This is no country for old women Scavenging among the shops of younger Birds feathered-fit for triumphalist high-fives Impatient of scarecrow’s creaking shoes, masked Grimace reaching for a tin on a grocer’s shelf.
Pain exacts through sickness and age Its own price, even as we gingerly kneel To find the lisolia of those now lost to sight, Praying hands held aloft, clasping light In the aftergloom of laughter’s ghosts.
In the heartmoor of these days and nights Visions appear, and I press forward into the dark Of words that like crumbs from the children’s table Fall upon me, as manna, as showers, as stories Of love that even scarecrows can laugh to tell.
Linda at dVerse asks us to choose one or more words from a list of neologisms to write a poem. Click on Mr. Linky and join in! I've chosen "heartmoor," "aftergloom" and "lisolia," definitions of which are given in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:
Aftergloom: the pang of loneliness you feel the day after an intensely social event, as the glow of voices and laughter fades into a somber quiet.
Heartmoor: the primal longing for a home village to return to, a place that no longer exists, if it ever did.
Lisolia: the satisfaction of things worn down by time, broken in baseball mitts, the shiny snout of a lucky bronze pig, or footprints ground deep into floorboards by generations of kneeling monks.
Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione et obsecratione cum gratiarum actione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob. [“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.”] Philippians 4:4–6; Psalm 85 (84):1
The incipit for the Gregorian chant introit from which Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, gets its name.
The Journey of the Magi
The nativity creche sits under the tree Not of cypress or palm, but a fragrant fir; Out in the hall, the magi make their way each day A few feet closer, here in the dead of winter.
We catch our toddler chewing on a magus Whose eyes, pointed up to the ceiling, Now contain the consternation of ages Before being released to his camels.
The five-year-old wants to know why The magi can’t fast-travel to the manger Their journey so slow and prey to perils Between them and what they seek.
“We’re taking care of them, aren’t we?” The nine-year-old says, retrieving an errant Praying magus from the bathtub, bobbing Beside duckie and the inconsiderate toddler.
Each advent day they get closer to the Desire Of nations, the Messiah born to save His people And on Christmas, they’ll be nearer, in the doorway Rejoicing in expectation of welcoming their King.
The day before the Ditty Bops came to town, the ghost of Grover Lewis prowled the backstage canvas tent smoking with one hand and fuming with the other like a dumbshow player.
While the painters and the carpenters hammered and brushed, Grover stood on the amplifier overseeing the pandemonium like he was in someone’s grandfather’s pulpit preaching
from a fragrant text of his mother’s hallowed last words, and the sunset didn’t stop him talking, nor the dawn, nor the scudding shadows before the storm broke in an early morning shower.
The university town was in west Texas, the splendor of short grass barely dried when the educated girls came to lay territorial claim like locusts, and Grover cursed
like the sailors he never knew but the father he thought he knew when he emerged from childhood’s wreckage, a fever growing as evening fell and the once relaxed crowd
grew restless with the opening act’s mulligans when someone pulled down the curtain and the Ditty Bops were forced to appear before their time, the stage lit like a firecracker,
Grover watching like some stricken, besotted lover holding his mother’s tatted lace, singing along, “And all the voices shut you up -Someone put a brick in your coffee cup.-“
until the show shut down and the last sound he heard was his own, as the carnival packed up and the stars in the big west Texas sky, one by one, lit up with all the wideness of a father’s arms
and the transport of a mother’s smile, spelling: who? a geek; where? here; what? endless mystery; when? now; why? where’s your notebook, you’ve a new story to write, past the strophe and into the epode.
See Shay/Fireblossom's "Word Garden Word List #3 (Grover Lewis)" for challenge and prompt words. In researching for this post, I read "Grover Lewis: An Appreciation" by his friend, Dave Hickey, written for the Los Angeles Times in 1995. It and Katy Vine's "Return to Splendor" really gave me a great appreciation of who Lewis was, the man, the journalist, the poet/writer.
I'm sharing this with dVerse's Open Link Night #305 December Live Edition, our host Björn. Click on Mr. Linky and join in!
It was coiled and glowing in a single ray of light, speaking of treasure maps
and I am there when she gives it to you, the thin gold filigree weaving delicate
through coral one after another, jostling into the tender skin of your palm
cupped like a boat that had sailed too far to be retrieved by a golden hook
that cut into the bark of heart and home but landed somewhere between reality
and the wound that never heals: “I’m leaving it with you,” I hear her say
to you. And you look at it like the sum of all mysteries and said to her, to me,
“Where will you go? Can’t you stay?” and I said, she said, “It’s no more use to me,
maybe for you,” and you tore the coral off your neck and your hands bled for a season
and a day, until you drew its poison out of your body and praised the Light that stayed.
Image credit: Amrita Sher-Gil, "The Little Girl in Blue" (detail; 1934).
Merril at dVerse asks us to "write about a historical artifact…You may write about any object—a family heirloom, a museum piece, a monument, or a palace. The choice is yours, but there must be some link to history and the past. You can write in any form or free verse."
King Ahaz was a jackass And a murderous one at that The faithless shepherd of Israel Who roasted children before his gods.
But before his Assyrian enemies he shook and cowered, and the prophet Isaiah came with a strong word from God: “If you don’t stand firm in faith, you will not stand at all.”1
The LORD had determined to protect His people from the Assyrian wolves; He told wicked Ahaz to ask for a sign And false-hearted Ahaz refused.
Yet the LORD was committed to His purpose of peace And gave Ahaz a sign foretelling a birth then and hence A maiden would give birth to a child, Emmanuel, “God with us”2: “If you don’t stand firm in faith, you will not stand at all.”
Now as we celebrate our Savior God’s birth We light a second purple candle to remember A virgin’s journey to Bethlehem to bear Jesus, Our Emmanuel.
Sta viator. Stop traveler. Amabilen conjugem calcas. Tread upon a loving wife.
“I’ve never read it myself.” “Tell me.”
On an island a mahogany bed shaped like a boat
The extraordinary in the ordinary: love in language
Flaubert writing Emma, who’s trapped in a familiar broken cauldron
The ordinary in the extraordinary: language in love
Only lies of happiness and unhappiness (I read it after all) meet expectations
I am the girl – the book is the wolf – believe me
Shay/Fireblossom's The Sunday Muse, weekly picture poetry prompt
Laura at dVerse: "write a Modernist/Post-Modernist Fragment poem"
Sammi's Weekend Writing Prompt, 79 words, "familiar"Punam's RDP Saturday: "the extraordinary in the ordinary"
Aristotle wrote that women are incomplete men. I was raised on this with my mother’s milk. What is a girl when your firstborn could have been a boy. In my mother’s eyes, shame. In my father’s, disappointment, shame. Flawless would be a boy. Flawed would be me.
Christmas with a baby at the center just turned up the drollery of fate. Each year’s gift whispered, “Be a man. Someone notable. Do that for us and we will love you.” How unkind to have only a girl child to celebrate the birth of a King!
What child is this? Daddy asks. Mummy echoes, What child is this?
I ask, Dear God, What Child is this?
“What Child is this, who, laid to rest, On Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, While shepherds watch are keeping?”1
Now Christmas comes to a woman whose hair is thinning, whose hands and feet are deformed with disease, whose gait is slow, whose back is bent. Not under the weight of shame. She sees the One in the manger born and wonders that Love came down into the muck of a world where children cry themselves to sleep and no one hears or cares. Jesus, You came a long way. And so did I with You.
This, this One died lonely tree-hung to save a girl child from pitiless hands
Philippians 2:5-11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1What Child Is This?
What child is this, who, laid to rest, On Mary’s lap is sleeping, Whom angels greet with anthems sweet While shepherds watch are keeping?
(Refrain)This, this is Christ the King, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing; Haste, haste to bring Him laud, The babe, the son of Mary!
Why lies He in such mean estate Where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christian, fear: for sinners here The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce him through, The Cross be borne for me, for you; Hail, hail the Word Made Flesh, The babe, the son of Mary!
So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh; Come, peasant, king, to own Him! The King of Kings salvation brings; Let loving hearts enthrone Him!
Raise, raise the song on high! The virgin sings her lullaby. Joy! joy! for Christ is born, The babe, the son of Mary!
William Chatterton Dix, “What Child Is This?” (1865)
Donna's Go Dog Go Cafe’s Inaugural Haibun Wednesday
Eugi's Weekly Prompt: "notable"
Thank you, Bjorn, for your fearless leadership of dVerse and your unflagging encouragement to those of us who gather at the dVerse pub from this most appreciative admirer of your poetry. Here’s to you and the ancient librarian! Cheers!
I took a tree for a chapel I took a bird for a priest I ate a heart out of ginger root Its enflamed sighs my prayers
Out of my back a tree grew one day Sparrows fluttered in my blind branches Until feather-gorged down a smooth-skinned maw One soundlessly disappeared
Out of my ginger-rooted chest A giant water bug starving crawled To pierce into liquefaction A spring peeper, sun-warmed frog.
I dreamt there was no heaven I dreamt there was no rest
No sunsets that spoke of design No kindness that spoke the divine
I fancied stardust my homeland And entropy was my life
In the scheme of all that’s unholy This is what I wrote
When Daddy Hollywood died They harvested his organs His heart from Marilyn Monroe His brain from Jerry Lewis His lungs from John Wayne His eyes from Bette Davis His liver from Humphrey Bogart His bones from Rita Hayworth His soul from Citizen Kane
They put him in the same coffin with Lenin1 To ward off decomposition atheist-fashion A resurrection team of doctors and make-up people And an engineering crew to keep Daddy cool
The day the summer lilies bloomed we went to visit him: the empty head the caved chest the refrigerated pump the sightless sockets the rotting fingertips the foaming skin the mouth whispering “Rosebud”
In the souvenir shop they sold snow globes and Jayne Mansfield t-shirts next to the exit and the Dr. T. J. Eckleberg sign2
1“The job of maintaining Lenin’s corpse belongs to an institute known in post-Soviet times as the Center for Scientic Research and Teaching Methods in Biochemical Technologies in Moscow. A core group of five to six anatomists, biochemists and surgeons, known as the ‘Mausoleum group,’ have primary responsibility for maintaining Lenin’s remains.” Read more here and here.
2The billboard eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg in The Great Gatsby seem to symbolize many things, including the loss of moral vision:
But above the grey land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground… I followed [Tom] over a low white-washed railroad fence and we walked back a hundred yards along the road under Doctor Eckleburg’s persistent stare… “Terrible place, isn’t it,” said Tom, exchanging a frown with Doctor Eckleburg.
F. Scott Fitgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)
Shay/Fireblossom's "Word Garden Word List #2 (Plath)" asks us to write a poem using at least three words from a list of words taken from Sylvia Plath's writings: I chose to use "Daddy," "exit," and "lilies."
You, compassion-clad, mudlark scavengers of world-weary souls
You, yourselves poor, despised, nobodies scorned3
Beloved of God, glory-bound
catch the light in golden cups of faith catch it, taste it, see how good His Word catch it freely with a living hope
catch sun-filled manna, multiplied grace peace as it settles like a priceless crown upon your head in splendor untarnished
catch the light with your open heart newborn soul with ears to hear Song of songs from Your Father’s throne
catch it as a prayer upon your tongue sounding the depths of Love unknown but for the babe in a manger born
catch the light and let faith loose kindled incense upward bound sent like sparks to heaven’s court
catch joy unspeakable, unbounded love the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost come in power to dwell with you
1 Peter 1:9 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1The Beatitudes are characteristics and blessings listed in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-12
2Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
31 Corinthians 1:26-29 “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
section in bolditalics: Sammi's weekend writing prompt: 52 words, "Mudlarks" Eugi's weekly prompt: "Compassion" Have a blessed First Sunday of Advent everyone!
American poet E. E. Cummings never wanted his name printed without capitals, but somehow he became anthologized that way. And no, he never legally changed his name to lower case either. It’s true most of his poems were written without caps, reflective of his simple, pared-down writing style.
He reveled in his New Hampshire surroundings and saw in its landscape resonances with his inner life. In fact, he spent more time painting than writing poetry.
As we give thanks to God for all His good gifts, shelter and food, family and friends, and the common pleasures of life, one Cummings poem stands out, whose first line is “i thank You God for most this amazing.” Here it is with an accompanying audio recording of his reading below.
i thank You God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any—lifted from the no of all nothing—human merely being doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
This poem was originally published in Xaipe(New York: Oxford University Press, 1950). Xaipe is a nonphonetic transliteration of the Greek χαῖρε (chaire), meaning “rejoice.”
Maisie gazes up at the light-catcher’s abode. She had tracked him down to this narrow street months ago, carefully observing his habits.
She still wonders why he’s here, when the comfortable far-palaces of Glinoraram are his for the asking, this youngest son of the king.
She was sent to bring him back, by force if necessary. Instead she finds herself discreetly helping him as Abaddon’s1 darkness grows heavier.
The dwellers on this dismal street need every light-scrap the light-catcher can find to give.
Emerging from his eyrie, his keen eyes meet hers knowingly. Did he know she loved him?
1The Hebrew term Abaddon (Hebrew: אֲבַדּוֹן Avaddon, meaning “destruction”, “doom”), and its Greek equivalent Apollyon (Koinē Greek: Ἀπολλύων, Apollúōn meaning “Destroyer”) appear in the Bible as both a place of destruction and an archangel of the abyss. In the Hebrew Bible, abaddon is used with reference to a bottomless pit, often appearing alongside the place Sheol (שְׁאוֹל Šəʾōl), meaning the realm of the dead.
In the Book of Revelation of the New Testament, an angel called Abaddon is described as the king of an army of locusts; his name is first transcribed in Koine Greek (Revelation 9:11—”whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon,”) as Ἀβαδδών, and then translated Ἀπολλύων, Apollyon. The Vulgate and the Douay–Rheims Bible have additional notes not present in the Greek text, “in Latin Exterminans”, exterminans being the Latin word for “destroyer”.
I want to give thanks today for all those who inspire us daily to live in faith, hope, and love.
Thank you for those who inspire us, as do Lewis and Madden, from very different generations, cultures, classes, life experiences, gender, color, and yet, one faith.
Two communicators in two different mediums.
C. S. Lewis (“Jack”) through his words on a broad canvas of scholarship, Christian apologetics, and science fiction and fantasy works. Tamara Natalie Madden through the portraits she lovingly brushed on a painter’s canvas, where people emerged from their ordinary guises to reveal the immortal souls they bore.
Jack died on this day in November 1963 at the age of 64 in Oxford. Tamara died on November 4, 2017 at the age of 42 in Atlanta, succumbing to cancer after suffering from illness much of her life.
Jack lost his mother at the age of nine and, having married late in life, his wife Joy after only four years of marriage. Tamara received a kidney transplant by “the grace of God”1 that enabled her to live another seventeen years painting and writing, counting “survival from illness, and my willingness to listen to God and pursue my art”2 her greatest achievement.
Both artists remind us not to take ourselves too seriously, or others too lightly. Tamara clothed her subjects in the colorful African and Indian fabrics of royalty. Jack read every one of the hundreds of letters he received from the Christian and non-Christian readers of his books, and replied to each one by his own hand with unfailing kindness and courtesy.
What a blazing legacy they have left us, to live brightly, however briefly, whatever our challenges, heightening our vision to see we are all royalty, bearing the image of God. We are all immortal and destined for immortal ends.