Break, break the splitting cataracts

Break, break the splitting cataracts
Send skin-sharp torrents to set free
Remold with Spirit-sinew mottled clay
Jarring-fiery Sinai-thunderous
The deep unseen core.

Hide me there upon the Rock
See me a revelry of particulate force
Lifting light, water, earth, and air
Across a timeless mist of song.

You, O God, who overflows my praise
Falling upon sun-spun life baptized
Fathomless One who fathoms me
To dance in the compass of Thy heart
Break, break the splitting cataracts!

Fay Collins, “Full Spate,” Lodore Falls, oil on board

Sarah at dVerse asks us for an ekphrastic poem, "to choose a picture, and let it inspire your words," with the picture being one by artist Fay Collins. Click on Mr. Linky and join in!

81 thoughts on “Break, break the splitting cataracts

  1. Glenn A. Buttkus

    At first I saw this as a powerful pean to Nature, to the force of rushing water, and then seamlessly you connect with the Almighty who designed it; very clever.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. fireblossom32

    I usually do not read “Christian” writers, but I love everything I’ve ever read here. This poem is wonderful. Gerald Manley Hopkins would be proud had he written it himself. Just marvelous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m overwhelmed by the comparison to Hopkins, so very generous of you, Shay, as he’s one of my favorites! Thank you. The truth is, I’m not conscious of writing Christian poetry per se, as my intention is not to preach. But if poetry is to be authentic, then let it be about expressing what’s felt and real to the poet. That’s art, and if it be to the glory of God, praise God!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. fireblossom32

        I meant, of course, GERARD Manley Hopkins. It was late and I’d been raking that day and was tired! 😉 And your poem absolutely merits the comparison, it’s amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the nod to Tennyson, with the infusion of Biblical imagery: as powerful as the waterfall itself. Another place I have been many times, it is tremendously moving to stand beneath that cataract.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate so much your thoughtful comments, Ingrid, thank you so much. And I like envisioning you there, so that I can say to myself “Ingrid’s been there, in that very spot.” Brings the painting a little more to life and makes you a little more wonderfully “known.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for remembering! Contrary to what the doctor said, it has carried on improving. First thing in the morning the only difference between the two eyes is that the cataract dims the light in the right eye. As long as I don’t have another episode of the thing I’ll be fine 🙂


  4. I love the way you used nature to get to God… I grew up hearing the bible much more than I do these days… it reminded me of Psalm 23… especially that valley of the shadow of the death, my father used to read that during Christmas, which was about the only thing I remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Psalm 23 breathes in me when I’m wordless! Despite the fall’s corruption, God’s character shines through nature: perhaps this is why so much of literature that yearns after transcendence when immanence yields emptiness is infused with nature’s magnificience. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Björn.


  5. Oh, Dora. This is such a heartfelt psalm. you opened with such gentle and cascade like how a waterfall does. these lines: You, O God, who overflows my praise
    Falling upon sun-spun life baptized: so powerful and the play on fathomless and fathom is genius. Blessings to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Someone else did too, but the pun wasn’t intentional. If it works, I’ll go with it! 🙂 Originally, I saw the opening as the Spirit’s sanctifying work in the heart of the believer, remolding us into Christ-likeness. But to do that He must also open our eyes to our need, give us a clearer vision of the glory of Christ. So the double-meaning works!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Reflecting the amazing painting(which I had not seen enlarged–my goodness, it’s lovely!) this reads for me as a poem of nature’s beauty, power and glory, and of the love of the Divine, whatever it may mean to each of us, made manifest. Not a believer in Christianity myself, but I respect the heart that can find faith, and as Shay says, your poetry is bigger than that and always rewarding to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Joy, you’re so aptly named, my friend. 😀 What a gift of joy to find the Divine in nature in this day of materialism run rampant! If my poem strikes that chord with you, then we are sharing in that same exuberance and I thank you for your so-generous comments which are beyond kindness itself. 🕊🧡🧡🧡

      Liked by 1 person

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