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.
Edmund Spenser |
MOST glorious Lord of Lyfe! that on this day
Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin;
And having harrowd hell didst bring away
Captivity thence captive us to win:
This joyous day deare Lord with joy begin; 5
And grant that we for whom thou diddest dye
Being with Thy deare blood clene washt from sin
May live for ever in felicity!
And that Thy love we weighing worthily
May likewise love Thee for the same againe; 10
And for Thy sake that all lyke deare didst buy
With love may one another entertayne!
So let us love deare Love lyke as we ought
¡ªLove is the lesson which the Lord us taught.
John Clare |
The winter comes; I walk alone,
I want no bird to sing;
To those who keep their hearts their own
The winter is the spring.
No flowers to please—no bees to hum—
The coming spring's already come.
I never want the Christmas rose
To come before its time;
The seasons, each as God bestows,
Are simple and sublime.
I love to see the snowstorm hing;
'Tis but the winter garb of spring.
I never want the grass to bloom:
The snowstorm's best in white.
I love to see the tempest come
And love its piercing light.
The dazzled eyes that love to cling
O'er snow-white meadows sees the spring.
I love the snow, the crumpling snow
That hangs on everything,
It covers everything below
Like white dove's brooding wing,
A landscape to the aching sight,
A vast expanse of dazzling light.
It is the foliage of the woods
That winters bring—the dress,
White Easter of the year in bud,
That makes the winter Spring.
The frost and snow his posies bring,
Nature's white spurts of the spring.
More great poems below...
John Betjeman |
The last year's leaves are on the beech:
The twigs are black; the cold is dry;
To deeps byond the deepest reach
The Easter bells enlarge the sky.
O ordered metal clatter-clang!
Is yours the song the angels sang?
You fill my heart with joy and grief -
Belief! Belief! And unbelief.
And, though you tell me I shall die,
You say not how or when or why.
Indifferent the finches sing,
Unheeding roll the lorries past:
What misery will this year bring
Now spring is in the air at last?
For, sure as blackthorn bursts to snow,
Cancer in some of us will grow,
The tasteful crematorium door
Shuts out for some the furnace roar;
But church-bells open on the blast
Our loneliness, so long and vast.
Robert Browning |
Morning, evening, noon and night,
``Praise God!; sang Theocrite.
Then to his poor trade he turned,
Whereby the daily meal was earned.
Hard he laboured, long and well;
O'er his work the boy's curls fell.
But ever, at each period,
He stopped and sang, ``Praise God!''
Then back again his curls he threw,
And cheerful turned to work anew.
Said Blaise, the listening monk, ``Well done;
``I doubt not thou art heard, my son:
``As well as if thy voice to-day
``Were praising God, the Pope's great way.
``This Easter Day, the Pope at Rome
``Praises God from Peter's dome.
Said Theocrite, ``Would God that I
``Might praise him, that great way, and die!''
Night passed, day shone,
And Theocrite was gone.
With God a day endures alway,
A thousand years are but a day.
God said in heaven, ``Nor day nor night
``Now brings the voice of my delight.
Then Gabriel, like a rainbow's birth,
Spread his wings and sank to earth;
Entered, in flesh, the empty cell,
Lived there, and played the craftsman well;
And morning, evening, noon and night,
Praised God in place of Theocrite.
And from a boy, to youth he grew:
The man put off the stripling's hue:
The man matured and fell away
Into the season of decay:
And ever o'er the trade he bent,
And ever lived on earth content.
(He did God's will; to him, all one
If on the earth or in the sun.
God said, ``A praise is in mine ear;
``There is no doubt in it, no fear:
``So sing old worlds, and so
``New worlds that from my footstool go.
``Clearer loves sound other ways:
``I miss my little human praise.
Then forth sprang Gabriel's wings, off fell
The flesh disguise, remained the cell.
'Twas Easter Day: he flew to Rome,
And paused above Saint Peter's dome.
In the tiring-room close by
The great outer gallery,
With his holy vestments dight,
Stood the new Pope, Theocrite:
And all his past career
Came back upon him clear,
Since when, a boy, he plied his trade,
Till on his life the sickness weighed;
And in his cell, when death drew near,
An angel in a dream brought cheer:
And rising from the sickness drear
He grew a priest, and now stood here.
To the East with praise he turned,
And on his sight the angel burned.
``I bore thee from thy craftsman's cell
``And set thee here; I did not well.
``Vainly I left my angel-sphere,
``Vain was thy dream of many a year.
``Thy voice's praise seemed weak; it dropped---
``Creation's chorus stopped!
``Go back and praise again
``The early way, while I remain.
``With that weak voice of our disdain,
``Take up creation's pausing strain.
``Back to the cell and poor employ:
``Resume the craftsman and the boy!''
Theocrite grew old at home;
A new Pope dwelt in Peter's dome.
One vanished as the other died:
They sought God side by side.
Alec Derwent (A D) Hope |
Make no mistake; there will be no forgiveness;
No voice can harm you and no hand will save;
Fenced by the magic of deliberate darkness
You walk on the sharp edges of the wave;
Trouble with soul again the putrefaction
Where Lazarus three days rotten lies content.
Your human tears will be the seed of faction
Murder the sequel to your sacrament.
The City of God is built like other cities:
Judas negotiates the loans you float;
You will meet Caiaphas upon committees;
You will be glad of Pilate's casting vote.
Your truest lovers still the foolish virgins,
Your heart will sicken at the marriage feasts
Knowing they watch you from the darkened gardens
Being polite to your official guests.
Lewis Carroll |
"Are you deaf, Father William!" the young man said,
"Did you hear what I told you just now?
"Excuse me for shouting! Don't waggle your head
"Like a blundering, sleepy old cow!
"A little maid dwelling in Wallington Town,
"Is my friend, so I beg to remark:
"Do you think she'd be pleased if a book were sent down
"Entitled 'The Hunt of the Snark?'"
"Pack it up in brown paper!" the old man cried,
"And seal it with olive-and-dove.
"I command you to do it!" he added with pride,
"Nor forget, my good fellow to send her beside
"Easter Greetings, and give her my love.
Rudyard Kipling |
The Babe was laid in the Manger
Between the gentle kine --
All safe from cold and danger --
"But it was not so with mine,
(With mine! With mine!)
"Is it well with the child, is it well?"
The waiting mother prayed.
"For I know not how he fell,
And I know not where he is laid.
A Star stood forth in Heaven;
The Watchers ran to see
The Sign of the Promise given --
"But there comes no sign to me.
(To me! To me!)
"My child died in the dark.
Is it well with the child, is it well?
There was none to tend him or mark,
And I know not how he fell.
The Cross was raised on high;
The Mother grieved beside --
"But the Mother saw Him die
And took Him when He died.
(He died! He died!)
"Seemly and undefiled
His burial-place was made --
Is it well, is it well with the child?
For I know not where he is laid.
On the dawning of Easter Day
Comes Mary Magdalene;
But the Stone was rolled away,
And the Body was not within --
"Ah, who will answer my word?
The broken mother prayed.
"They have taken away my Lord,
And I know not where He is laid.
"The Star stands forth in Heaven.
The watchers watch in vain
For Sign of the Promise given
Of peace on Earth again --
"But I know for Whom he fell" --
The steadfast mother smiled,
"Is it well with the child -- is it well?
It is well -- it is well with the child!"
George Herbert |
Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
My tender age in sorrow did begin:
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sin,
That I became
Let me combine
And feel this day thy victory:
For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.
Katharine Tynan |
Bring flowers to strew His way,
Yea, sing, make holiday;
Bid young lambs leap,
And earth laugh after sleep.
For now He cometh forth
Winter flies to the north,
Folds wings and cries
Amid the bergs and ice.
Yea, Death, great Death is dead,
And Life reigns in his stead;
Cometh the Athlete
New from dead Death's defeat.
Cometh the Wrestler,
But Death he makes no stir,
Utterly spent and done,
And all his kingdom gone.
A E Housman |
'Tis spring; come out to ramble
The hilly brakes around,
For under thorn and bramble
About the hollow ground
The primroses are found.
And there's the windflower chilly
With all the winds at play,
And there's the Lenten lily
That has not long to stay
And dies on Easter day.
And since till girls go maying
You find the primrose still,
And find the windflower playing
With every wind at will,
But not the daffodil,
Bring baskets now, and sally
Upon the spring's array,
And bear from hill and valley
The daffodil away
That dies on Easter day.
Mary Elizabeth Coleridge |
GOOD FRIDAY in my heart! Fear and affright!
My thoughts are the Disciples when they fled,
My words the words that priest and soldier said,
My deed the spear to desecrate the dead.
And day, Thy death therein, is changed to night.
Then Easter in my heart sends up the sun.
My thoughts are Mary, when she turned to see.
My words are Peter, answering, ‘Lov’st thou Me?’
My deeds are all Thine own drawn close to Thee,
And night and day, since Thou dost rise, are one.
Emily Dickinson |
If He dissolve -- then --
there is nothing -- more --
Eclipse -- at Midnight --
It was dark -- before --
Sunset -- at Easter --
Blindness -- on the Dawn --
Faint Star of Bethlehem --
Would but some God -- inform Him --
Or it be too late!
Say -- that the pulse just lisps --
The Chariots wait --
Say -- that a little life -- for His --
Is leaking -- red --
His little Spaniel -- tell Him!
Will He heed?
Stevie Smith |
I walked abroad in Easter Park,
I heard the wild dog's distant bark,
I knew my Lord was risen again, -
Wild dog, wild dog, you bark in vain.
George Herbert |
I Got me flowers to straw Thy way,
I got me boughs off many a tree;
But Thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st Thy sweets along with Thee.
The sunne arising in the East,
Though he give light, and th’ East perfume,
If they should offer to contest
With Thy arising, they presume.
Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we misse:
There is but one, and that one ever.