Category Archives: Poets and Poetry

Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception

saint_anne_et_marie_enfant

St. Anne and Mary as a young girl.

William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)

THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE IS
THE HAND THAT RULES THE WORLD.

BLESSINGS on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace.
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy’s the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mothers first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow—
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission,
Here upon our natal sod;
Keep—oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky—
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

That Which Is Not God

That Which is Not God would have me believe in illusions and lies,
It would have me believe that I live in a “Kill or Be Killed” world,
It wants me to think that I am unimportant and a burden to others,
It wants me to think that I am separate and different from everyone else.

It wants me to feel weak and alone,
It wants me to believe that I am nothing without it.

What can be said to something that pretends to be so powerful?
What can be said to something that pretends to be so scary?
What can be said to something that pretends to be invincible?
What can be said to That Which is Not God?

There is a moment that emerges, a moment in which Reality pivots.
This is the moment where nothing looks any different and everything has changed,
The tiniest speck of time and space that contains all of Creation.
No one sees it coming and then it appears.
This is the moment of True Discovery,
The moment that the “impossible” is seen for the lie that it is.

It is the Moment of Confrontation and Declaration:

Whoever is aiming a weapon at me is Not God
Drones and nuclear warheads are Not God
The Pentagon is Not God
The President of the United States is Not God
The CIA is Not God
The NSA is Not God
The TSA is Not God
The IRS is Not God
The IMF is Not God
The Federal Reserve Bank is Not God
Money is Not God
Corporations are Not God
No empire is God and never will be.

The Horrible Tribe

The Horrible Tribe of the Medina-Ussah

by Thomas R. Eddlem

My name is Husan and I was from Kabul.
And I recall that terrible day of hell,
When the killers painted their name on that shell.
The day Papa was killed during Russian rule.

A boy of just four, I could not read nor write.
But I learned that the bombers weren’t from Russia
She read: it’s the tribe of “Medina-Ussah.”
When I brought the shell to my Meme that night.

I studied all of Islam’s holy Qu’ran
At a madrassah under the Taliban
But try as I might, and try as I could
Of the killing, of deaths I never understood
Why the foreign tribe of Medina-Ussah would.

How could a tribe named after Islam’s second-most holy city
Murder and kill an innocent peddler without pity?
Why would they do this to my home land?
And take the name of Muhammad’s Holy Land?

Years later, the Medina-Ussah returned.
When I was at school, and Meme at table.
New bombs at home with the same hated label
Except for that label, everything had burned.

So I found a job and raised a family,
When I left home, that land of unholy war,
As an orphan in the land of Peshawar.
Though I learned English there, I still didn’t see.

Because I studied Islam’s holy Qu’ran
At a madrasa under the Taliban.
And try as I might, and try as I could
Of the killing, of deaths I never understood
Why the foreign tribe of Medina-Ussah would.

How could a tribe named after Islam’s second-most holy city
Murder and kill my innocent Meme without pity?
Why would they do this to my home land?
And take the name of Muhammad’s Holy Land?

My only son would have turned eight yesterday.
He died instantly, mercifully by the flash
With that evil tribe’s label in the blast crash.
It was an accident, so officials say.

The Medina-Ussah, as Meme would say,
Bombed the child’s school and painted their name on top.
The same words I showed Meme in our bombed shop.
And I read the charred words “Made in U.S.A.”

I have long studied Islam’s holy Qu’ran
And I read English, or my friends say I can.
So with all my might, I still don’t understand.
Why all the killing and the drone strikes unmanned?
Collateral damage, the evil tribe’s brand.

This tribe was not named after Islam’s second-most holy city
But they still murdered and killed without pity.
Why would they do this to my new land?
Why does “Made in U.S.A.” take such a stand?

***************
Tom Eddlem writes for The New American and he is a U.S. history teacher in a Catholic high school south of Boston.

The Consummate Fallen Angel

 

The Consummate Fallen Angel

by Robert Higgs

The devil is agile and quick on his feet
He fought at Gettysburg
From beginning to end
And never got a single scratch

At Verdun and the Somme back in ‘16
He displayed his great flair
For adding large numbers
Of young souls wickedly squandered

Dulce et decorum est, he shrieked,
As the Brits and the Yanks
Stoked the fires of hell at Hamburg
In Operation Gomorrah

A master linguist, he spoke fluently in
Vietnamese, French, and English
Amid fetid fields and burnt villages
Fouled by napalm and rotting flesh

He never tires and needs no maps
Finding his way through the world with ease
As if he has visited each place
Many times before, since the dawn of time

********

this poem is reposted with the permission of the author. It originally appeared on the blog The Beacon at the website of the Independent Institute. 

Chant

This chilling poem by Cistercian monk, writer and poet Thomas Merton offers a dramatic portrayal of SS Officer Rudolf Hoess.

This poem was published in 1961 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti for the inaugural edition of “Journal for the Protection of all Beings.”

The music that accompanies this piece was composed and performed by Henk van der Duim of Zero V.Chant to be used in Processions around a Site with Furnaces can be streamed using the media player above. A CD quality mp3 audio file is available for download here.

 

Chant to be used in Processions around a Site with Furnaces

 

How we made them sleep and purified them

How we perfectly cleaned up the people and worked a big heater

I was the commander I made improvements and installed a guaranteed system taking account of human weakness I purified and I remained decent

How I commanded I made cleaning appointments and then I made the travellers sleep and after that I made soap

I was born into a Catholic family but as these people were not going to need a priest I did not become a priest I installed a perfectly good machine it gave satisfaction to many

When trains arrived the soiled passengers received appointments for fun in the bathroom they did not guess

It was a very big bathroom for two thousand people it awaited arrival and they arrived safely

There would be an orchestra of merry widows not all the time much art

If they arrived at all they would be given a greeting card to send home taken care of with good jobs wishing you would come to our joke

Another improvement I made was I built the chambers for two thousand invitations at a time the naked votaries were disinfected with Zyklon B

Children of tender age were always invited by reason of their youth they were unable to work they were marked out for play

They were washed like the others and more than the others

Very frequently women would hide their children in the piles of clothing but of course when we came to find them we would send the children into the chamber to be bathed

How I often commanded and made improvements and sealed the door on top there were flowers the men came with crystals

I guaranteed always the crystal parlour

I guaranteed the chamber and it was sealed you could see through portholes

They waited for the shower it was not hot water that came through vents though efficient winds gave full satisfaction portholes showed this

The satisfied all ran together to the doors awaiting arrival it was guaranteed they made ends meet

How I could tell by their cries that love came to a full stop I found the ones I had made clean after about a half hour Jewish male inmates then worked up nice they had rubber boots in return for adequate food I could not guess their appetite

Those at the door were taken apart out of a fully stopped love for rubber male inmates strategic hair and teeth being used later for defence

Then the males removed all clean love rings and made away with happy gold

A big new firm promoted steel forks operating on a cylinder they got the contract and with faultless workmanship delivered very fast goods

How I commanded and made soap 12 pounds fat 10 quarts water 8 ounces to a pound of caustic soda but it was hard to find any fat

“For transporting the customers we suggest using light carts on wheels a drawing is submitted”

“We acknowledge four steady furnaces and an emergency guarantee”

“I am a big new commander operating on a cylinder I elevate the purified materials boil for 2 to 3 hours and then cool”

For putting them into a test fragrance I suggested an express elevator operated by the latest cylinder it was guaranteed

Their love was fully stopped by our perfected ovens but the love rings were salvaged

Thanks to the satisfaction of male inmates operating the heaters without need of compensation our guests were warmed

All the while I had obeyed perfectly

So I was hanged in a commanding position with a full view of the site plant and grounds

You smile at my career but you would do as I did if you knew yourself and dared

In my days we worked hard we saw what we did our self sacrifice was conscientious and complete our work was faultless and detailed

Do not think yourself better because you burn up friends and enemies with long-range missiles without ever seeing what you have done

Baghdad

Baghdad

Paths of Glory

 

Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20211

Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/20211

As the U.S. government prepares to wage all out war (“intense and sustained,” as John Kerry has put it) in Iraq again, let’s hope and pray that Catholic young men, and all young men, will decline the invitation to get involved in this diabolical enterprise. Here’s an article that may prompt reflection and introspection.

The Faceless Men

Torture then, torture now

“On a Theme from Julian’s Chapter XX”

by Denise Levertov

 

Six hours outstretched in the sun, yes,
hot wood, the nails, blood trickling
into the eyes, yes —
but the thieves on their neighbor crosses
survived till after the soldiers
had come to fracture their legs, or longer.
Why single out the agony? What’s
a mere six hours?
Torture then, torture now,
the same, the pain’s the same,
immemorial branding iron,
electric prod.
Hasn’t a child
dazed in the hospital ward they reserve
for the most abused, known worse?
The air we’re breathing,
these very clouds, ephemeral billows
languid upon the sky’s
moody ocean, we share
with women and men who’ve held out
days and weeks on the rack —
and in the ancient dust of the world
what particles
of the long tormented,
what ashes.

But Julian’s lucid spirit leapt
to the difference:
perceived why no awe could measure
that brief day’s endless length,
why among all the tortured
One only is “King of Grief.”
The oneing, she saw, the oneing
with the Godhead opened him utterly
to the pain of all minds, all bodies
— sands of the sea, of the desert —
from first beginning
to last day. The great wonder is
that the human cells of His flesh and bone
didn’t explode
when utmost imagination rose
in that flood of knowledge. Unique
in agony, Infinite strength, Incarnate,
empowered Him to endure
inside of history,
through those hours when he took to Himself
the sum total of anguish and drank
even the lees of that cup:

within the mesh of the web, Himself
woven within it, yet seeing it,
seeing it whole. Every sorrow and desolation
He saw, and sorrowed in kinship.

 


Taken from Breathing the Water by Denise Levertov (New York: New Directions Press, 1987)

“When I Survey” by Isaac Watts

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

[His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.]

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

He comes with work to do

Peace

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I'll not play hypocrite
To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?

O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,
He comes to brood and sit.

– See more here.

Born at Stratford, Essex, England, on July 28, 1844, Gerard Manley Hopkins is regarded as one the Victorian era’s greatest poets. In 1864, Hopkins first read John Henry Newman’s Apologia pro via sua, which discussed the author’s reasons for converting to Catholicism. Two years later, he converted and soon decided to become a priest himself. He spent nine years in training at various Jesuit houses throughout England. He was ordained in 1877. In 1884, he became a professor of Greek at the Royal University College in Dublin. He died five years later from typhoid fever. His poems were never published during his lifetime.