John Betjeman |
Here among long-discarded cassocks,
Damp stools, and half-split open hassocks,
Here where the vicar never looks
I nibble through old service books.
Lean and alone I spend my days
Behind this Church of England baize.
I share my dark forgotten room
With two oil-lamps and half a broom.
The cleaner never bothers me,
So here I eat my frugal tea.
My bread is sawdust mixed with straw;
My jam is polish for the floor.
Christmas and Easter may be feasts
For congregations and for priests,
And so may Whitsun.
All the same,
They do not fill my meagre frame.
For me the only feast at all
Is Autumn's Harvest Festival,
When I can satisfy my want
With ears of corn around the font.
I climb the eagle's brazen head
To burrow through a loaf of bread.
I scramble up the pulpit stair
And gnaw the marrows hanging there.
It is enjoyable to taste
These items ere they go to waste,
But how annoying when one finds
That other mice with pagan minds
Come into church my food to share
Who have no proper business there.
Two field mice who have no desire
To be baptized, invade the choir.
A large and most unfriendly rat
Comes in to see what we are at.
He says he thinks there is no God
And yet he comes .
it's rather odd.
This year he stole a sheaf of wheat
(It screened our special preacher's seat),
And prosperous mice from fields away
Come in to hear our organ play,
And under cover of its notes
Ate through the altar's sheaf of oats.
A Low Church mouse, who thinks that I
Am too papistical, and High,
Yet somehow doesn't think it wrong
To munch through Harvest Evensong,
While I, who starve the whole year through,
Must share my food with rodents who
Except at this time of the year
Not once inside the church appear.
Within the human world I know
Such goings-on could not be so,
For human beings only do
What their religion tells them to.
They read the Bible every day
And always, night and morning, pray,
And just like me, the good church mouse,
Worship each week in God's own house,
But all the same it's strange to me
How very full the church can be
With people I don't see at all
Except at Harvest Festival.
Ralph Waldo Emerson |
I LIKE a church; I like a cowl;
I love a prophet of the soul;
And on my heart monastic aisles
Fall like sweet strains or pensive smiles;
Yet not for all his faith can see 5
Would I that cowl¨¨d churchman be.
Why should the vest on him allure
Which I could not on me endure?
Not from a vain or shallow thought
His awful Jove young Phidias brought; 10
Never from lips of cunning fell
The thrilling Delphic oracle:
Out from the heart of nature rolled
The burdens of the Bible old;
The litanies of nations came 15
Like the volcano's tongue of flame
Up from the burning core below ¡ª
The canticles of love and woe;
The hand that rounded Peter's dome
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome 20
Wrought in a sad sincerity;
Himself from God he could not free;
He builded better than he knew;¡ª
The conscious stone to beauty grew.
Know'st thou what wove yon woodbird's nest 25
Of leaves and feathers from her breast?
Or how the fish outbuilt her shell
Painting with morn each annual cell?
Or how the sacred pine tree adds
To her old leaves new myriads? 30
Such and so grew these holy piles
Whilst love and terror laid the tiles.
Earth proudly wears the Parthenon
As the best gem upon her zone;
And Morning opes with haste her lids 35
To gaze upon the Pyramids;
O'er England's abbeys bends the sky
As on its friends with kindred eye;
For out of Thought's interior sphere
These wonders rose to upper air; 40
And Nature gladly gave them place
Adopted them into her race
And granted them an equal date
With Andes and with Ararat.
These temples grew as grows the grass; 45
Art might obey but not surpass.
The passive Master lent his hand
To the vast soul that o'er him planned;
And the same power that reared the shrine
Bestrode the tribes that knelt within.
Ever the fiery Pentecost
Girds with one flame the countless host
Trances the heart through chanting choirs
And through the priest the mind inspires.
The word unto the prophet spoken 55
Was writ on tables yet unbroken;
The word by seers or sibyls told
In groves of oak or fanes of gold
Still floats upon the morning wind
Still whispers to the willing mind.
One accent of the Holy Ghost
The heedless world hath never lost.
I know what say the fathers wise ¡ª
The Book itself before me lies ¡ª
Old Chrysostom best Augustine 65
And he who blent both in his line
The younger Golden Lips or mines
Taylor the Shakespeare of divines.
His words are music in my ear
I see his cowl¨¨d portrait dear; 70
And yet for all his faith could see
I would not this good bishop be.
The Bible |
“Do not enter into judgment with your servant;
For before you no one alive can be righteous.
“O Jehovah, do not in your indignation reprove me,
Nor in your rage correct me.
For your own arrows have sunk themselves deep into me,
And upon me your hand is come down.
There is no sound spot in my flesh because of your denunciation.
There is no peace in my bones on account of my sin.
For my own errors have passed over my head;
Like a heavy load they are too heavy for me.
My wounds have become stinky, they have festered,
Because of my foolishness.
I have become disconcerted, I have bowed low to an extreme degree;
All day long I have walked about sad.
“Look! With error I was brought forth with birth pains,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
“May you purify me from sin with hyssop, that I may be clean;
May you wash me, that I may become whiter even than snow.
“Conceal your face from my sins,
And wipe out even all my errors.
51:5, 7, 9.
“Happy is the one whose revolt is pardoned, whose sin is covered.
Happy is the man to whose account Jehovah does not put error,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
My sin I finally confessed to you, and my error I did not cover.
I said: ‘I shall make confession over my transgressions to Jehovah.
And you yourself pardoned the error of my sins.
More great poems below...
The Bible |
The Bible |
Mighty is your arm, O Lord
Your hand, exalted and strong
Your righteousness and your justice
Are the foundation of your throne
Your mercy and loving-kindness
Go before your face
And blessed are the those who know you,
Who walk in your favour and grace
For in your name, they do rejoice,
Their horn is lifted high,
For you are the glory of their strength
Their righteousness, and their light
Scripture Poem © Copyright Of M.
The Bible |
The one who sows sparingly
From that he shall reap,
But he who sows generously
Will be blessed with all he needs
Let each one give as he has chosen
With a heart of gratitude,
Not with grumbling or reluctance,
But with a cheerful attitude
And God is able to make all grace
Abound toward you
So you will be fully equipped
And be blessed in all you do.
Scripture Poem © Copyright Of M.
Robert Pinsky |
Dire one and desired one,
In an old allegory you would carry
A chained alphabet of tokens:
Ankh Badge Cross.
Engraved figure guarding a hallowed intaglio,
Jasper kinema of legendary Mind,
Naked omphalos pierced
By quills of rhyme or sense, torah-like: unborn
Vein of will, xenophile
Yearning out of Zero.
Untrusting I court you.
I seek your face, I read
That Crusoe's knife
Reeked of you, that to defile you
The soldier makes the rabbi spit on the torah.
"I'll drown my book" says Shakespeare.
Drowned walker, revenant.
After my mother fell on her head, she became
More than ever your sworn enemy.
Sometimes like a poet or critic of forty years later.
Or she spoke of the world as Thersites spoke of the heroes,
"I think they have swallowed one another.
Would laugh at that miracle.
You also in the laughter, warrior angel:
Your helmet the zodiac, rocket-plumed
Your spear the beggar's finger pointing to the mouth
Your heel planted on the serpent Formulation
Your face a vapor, the wreath of cigarette smoke crowning
Bogart as he winces through it.
You not in the words, not even
Between the words, but a torsion,
A cleavage, a stirring.
You stirring even in the arctic ice,
Even at the dark ocean floor, even
In the cellular flesh of a stone.
My poker friends
Question your presence
In a poem by me, passing the magazine
One to another.
Not the stone and not the words, you
Like a veil over Arthur's headstone,
The passage from Proverbs he chose
While he was too ill to teach
And still well enough to read, I was
Beside the master craftsman
Delighting him day after day, ever
At play in his presence--you
A soothing veil of distraction playing over
Dying Arthur playing in the hospital,
Thumbing the Bible, fuzzy from medication,
Ever courting your presence,
And you the prognosis,
You in the cough.
Gesturer, when is your spur, your cloud?
You in the airport rituals of greeting and parting.
Indicter, who is your claimant?
Bell at the gate.
Spiderweb iron bridge.
Cloak, video, aroma, rue, what is your
Elected silence, where was your seed?
What is Imagination
But your lost child born to give birth to you?
Or presence ever at play:
Let those scorn you who never
Starved in your dearth.
Dare to disparage
Your harp of shadows I taste
Wormwood and motor oil, I pour
Ashes on my head.
You are the wound.
Be the medicine.
The Bible |
“O Jehovah, you yourself have proved to be a real dwelling for us
During generation after generation.
Before the mountains themselves were born,
Or you proceeded to bring forth as with labor pains the earth and the productive land,
Even from time indefinite to time indefinite you are
For a thousand years are in your eyes but as yesterday when it is past,
And as a watch during the night.
“Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself,
And the heavens are the work of your hands.
They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing;
And just like a garment they will all of them wear out.
Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn.
But you are the same, and your own years will not be completed.
“Clouds and thick gloom are all around him; Righteousness and judgment are the established place of his throne.
Before him a very fire goes,
And it consumes his adversaries all around.
His lightnings lighted up the productive land;
The earth saw and came to be in severe pains.
The mountains themselves proceeded to melt just like wax on account of Jehovah,
On account of the Lord of the whole earth.
Robert William Service |
Oh if it were not for my wife
And family increase,
How gladly would I close my life
In monastery peace!
A sweet and scented isle I know
Where monks in muteness dwell,
And there in sereness I would go
And seek a cell.
On milk and oaten meal I'd live,
With carrot, kail and cheese;
The greens that tiny gardens give,
The bounty of the bees.
Then war might rage, I would not know,
Or knowing would not care:
No echo of a world of woe
Would irk me there.
And I would be forgotten too
As mankind I forgot;
Read Shakespeare and the Bible through,
And brood in quiet thought.
Content with birds and trees and flowers
In mellow age to find
'Mid monastery's holy hours
God's Peace of Mind.
Rg Gregory |
in my reading of the moment i have learned
the figure next to christ in da vinci’s last supper
(a painting i have actually seen in a milan church
fragilely restored) is a woman – an honour earned
by mary magdalene who (according to research)
turns out to be christ’s wife – hang on what a whopper
cry those who can’t contemplate centuries of teaching
down the drain – who suck up to the precious thought
of divine purity (eternity’s abstention from all
the dirty business of the body) pasteurising preaching
let christ stay a product of the time before the fall
(da vinci had a darkness different from what’s taught)
mona lisa (amon-isis) – enigmatic smile and code
for male and female balance – offensive to the powers
that ran the bible their way (hoodwinked future ages)
turned the bright sun black to mask the path they strode
wrapped their ascetic bloodstreams in the holy pages
before which (even today) the congregation cowers
da vinci was an artist scientist (probably a necromancer)
had his own black sun – dabbled in the anti-matter
that official truth hates (creates) – that nurtures riddles
through passageways that breed the ill-reputed answer
(soiled honour’s defence against sly caesar’s fiddles)
hissing its way lightwards through conspiracy chatter
christ had a woman at his right hand – locked together
(so da vinci had the painting say) like the letter m
the rumoured whore redeemed – the partner siamesed
into the one flesh – sharing the equal tragic tether
the whole edifice of the holy roman church teased
into collapse – virginal rose snapped at the stem
not that it seemed to make a difference – the vatican
still had its glory years ahead (its gory inquisitions)
da vinci stayed honoured in the breeches the word advanced
though its priests wore skirts – the brutality of man
multiplied its converts (scientifically enhanced)
not one power in the world changed its dirty dispositions
yesterday was aeons ago – tomorrow’s loath to come
no one really cares if magdalene was wife or whore
da vinci is someone to gawp at – all’s mutable (unreal)
what’s truth - we still know bugger-all (live by rule of thumb)
so educatedly dumb can’t trust what we think know feel
a thriller brought this on – half opened a not-there door
Stephen Dunn |
It was supposed to be Arts & Crafts for a week,
but when she came home
with the "Jesus Saves" button, we knew what art
was up, what ancient craft.
She liked her little friends.
She liked the songs
they sang when they weren't
twisting and folding paper into dolls.
What could be so bad?
Jesus had been a good man, and putting faith
in good men was what
we had to do to stay this side of cynicism,
that other sadness.
OK, we said, One week.
But when she came home
singing "Jesus loves me,
the Bible tells me so," it was time to talk.
Could we say Jesus
doesn't love you? Could I tell her the Bible
is a great book certain people use
to make you feel bad? We sent her back
without a word.
It had been so long since we believed, so long
since we needed Jesus
as our nemesis and friend, that we thought he was
that our children would think of him like Lincoln
or Thomas Jefferson.
Soon it became clear to us: you can't teach disbelief
to a child,
only wonderful stories, and we hadn't a story
nearly as good.
On parents' night there were the Arts & Crafts
all spread out
Then we took our seats
in the church
and the children sang a song about the Ark,
and one in which they had to jump up and down
I can't remember ever feeling so uncertain
about what's comic, what's serious.
Evolution is magical but devoid of heroes.
You can't say to your child
"Evolution loves you.
" The story stinks
of extinction and nothing
exciting happens for centuries.
I didn't have
a wonderful story for my child
and she was beaming.
All the way home in the car
she sang the songs,
occasionally standing up for Jesus.
There was nothing to do
but drive, ride it out, sing along
Wystan Hugh (W H) Auden |
Among pelagian travelers,
Lost on their lewd conceited way
To Massachusetts, Michigan,
Miami or L.
An airborne instrument I sit,
Predestined nightly to fulfill
By whose election justified,
I bring my gospel of the Muse
To fundamentalists, to nuns,
to Gentiles and to Jews,
And daily, seven days a week,
Before a local sense has jelled,
From talking-site to talking-site
Though warm my welcome everywhere,
I shift so frequently, so fast,
I cannot now say where I was
The evening before last,
Unless some singular event
Should intervene to save the place,
A truly asinine remark,
A soul-bewitching face,
Or blessed encounter, full of joy,
Unscheduled on the Giesen Plan,
With, here, an addict of Tolkien,
There, a Charles Williams fan.
Since Merit but a dunghill is,
I mount the rostrum unafraid:
Indeed, 'twere damnable to ask
If I am overpaid.
Spirit is willing to repeat
Without a qualm the same old talk,
But Flesh is homesick for our snug
Apartment in New York.
A sulky fifty-six, he finds
A change of mealtime utter hell,
Grown far too crotchety to like
A luxury hotel.
The Bible is a goodly book
I always can peruse with zest,
But really cannot say the same
For Hilton's Be My Guest.
Nor bear with equanimity
The radio in students' cars,
Muzak at breakfast, or--dear God!--
Girl-organists in bars.
Then, worst of all, the anxious thought,
Each time my plane begins to sink
And the No Smoking sign comes on:
What will there be to drink?
Is this a milieu where I must
How grahamgreeneish! How infra dig!
Snatch from the bottle in my bag
An analeptic swig?
Another morning comes: I see,
Dwindling below me on the plane,
The roofs of one more audience
I shall not see again.
God bless the lot of them, although
I don't remember which was which:
God bless the U.
, so large,
So friendly, and so rich.
The Bible |
“As a father shows mercy to his sons,
Jehovah has shown mercy to those fearing him.
For he himself well knows the formation of us,
Remembering that we are dust.
“If errors were what you watch, O Jah,
O Jehovah, who could stand?
For there is the true forgiveness with you,
In order that you may be feared.
I have hoped, O Jehovah, my soul has hoped,
And for his word I have waited.
The Bible |
If you will receive God's words
And treasure all His commands
Being attentive to godly wisdom,
He'll be your shield from harm
If you raise your voice for understanding
And cry out for godly insight
Longing for godly direction,
Each and every day of your life,
And if you seek for God's wisdom
As for treasure that is hidden
Then you will know the fear of the Lord
And have His knowledge within.
Scripture Poem © Copyright Of M.
The Bible |
I have strength for all things
Through Christ who empowers me,
I'm ready for anything that comes my way
Even what I may not foresee
For it is Christ who infuses me
Strengthening me in His might
And I am sufficient in His sufficiency
With the power of Christ inside.
Scripture Poem © Copyright Of M.