Poets’ Corner

The Ebbing

She was beginning to mislay our names And also where she came from, who she was— Her childhood inside house and orchard walls, The fruit as warm as sunshine on her palm: The words that should have held the world fell back. Yet in her gestures, there was mystery And something luminous that tried to…

A Year in Reading

It has been a good year for reading. Back in Michigan, Sarah and I read a handful of truly memorable novels together in our little cottage on the edge of the wood. Since leaving home to study theology and the arts here at St. Andrews, I have had an excuse to pick up lots of…

Grey Stone

From youth this cool, grey stone enchanted me, Its beauty one with its simplicity: The Archer of Aphaia poised to strike, Or mighty Neptune with his triple spike, The pointed arches of the Notre-Dame, Ascending heavenward with perfect calm: Their colors were but subtlety and shade, Nor garish nor flamboyant, rather made of naught but…

Sunlight

On asking the philosophers,  What is the sun?, we get in answer, An angel perched; a heap of furze Some god has set ablaze; a burning   Iron that melts from sword to plow To spearhead with the seasons’ turning. And some wise soul guffaws at them   Or, condescending, calls it “poetry” To disbelieve…

Sartre’s Funeral

 Paris, 19 April 1980 Immense, the crowds that line the cortege route Pay homage now to him that set them free, Emancipated from Church piety. Delivered from the bonds of creed, they doubt,  Just as he taught them, urging them to flout God’s pleasure-killing laws of chastity. Hands stretch to touch the hearse; eyes strain…

Death Experienced

By Rainer Maria Rilke Translated by Susan McLean We know nothing about this going hence, which shares nothing with us. We’ve no foundation for showing hate or love and reverence toward death, whose mask of tragic lamentation strangely disfigures him. The world is still full of roles we play. As long as we worry about…

All Souls, in Morning Fog

At dawn a clammy silence wraps the ridge. Before he makes his tea, the hermit hikes Through grounded cloud to the summit, the very edge Of the world. Before him, nothing. The hidden creek’s Wind-noise speaks to him from the rising whiteness. A hawk skirls and hangs where the sky clears. Morning leans through the…

The Moderator

in a time of intemperate speech Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Proverbs 17:27 The speakers meet, shake hands, ready to debate The issues of the day before tense groups Of partisans the moderator calms With calls for quiet, respect, and courtesy. Each…

Mordecai

By accident or fate I said the words That saved the king from poison unto death. Despite his trust I maintained shibboleths. The son of Jair, I’m not afraid of birds. The judge caught me at prayer before the feasts And longed to see me eaten by shabhaz. He ruled all servants and gentlemen must…

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