Sunday Poem.

Whitsunday is Pentecost: one should not be afraid of the old language. This is about as good as it gets on this topics. The anthologists exerpt Eliot and Auden, of all people. The modern poets are too modern for the topic: Baxter does not reach for the issue as Herbert does.

‘SONG TO THE HOLY SPIRIT’
Lord, Holy Spirit,
You blow like the wind in a thousand paddocks,
Inside and outside the fences,
You blow where you wish to blow.
Lord, Holy Spirit,
You are the sun who shines on the little plant,
You warm him gently, you give him life,
You raise him up to become a tree with many leaves.
Lord, Holy Spirit,
You are the mother eagle with her young,
Holding them in peace under your feathers.
On the highest mountain you have built your nest,
Above the valley, above the storms of the world,
Where no hunter ever comes.
Lord, Holy Spirit,
You are the bright cloud in whom we hide,
In whom we know already that the battle has been won.
You bring us to our Brother Jesus
To rest our heads upon his shoulder.
Lord, Holy Spirit,
You are the kind fire who does not cease to burn,
Consuming us with flames of love and peace,
Driving us out like sparks to set the world on fire.
Lord, Holy Spirit,
In the love of friends you are building a new house,
Heaven is with us when you are with us.
You are singing your songs in the hearts of the poor
Guide us, wound us, heal us. Bring us to the Father.

James K. Baxter, ‘Song to the Holy Spirit’,

Herbet was better trained. In theology, in rhetoric, and in poetry. But he lived in a time when going directly to the point and not seeing the Spirit of God in a series of metaphors was not only accepted, it was expected. He understood the Pentecostal Fire: I consider Baxter did to, but he struggled with the progressive piety of the time, where God was less acceptable than a joint or unpolished shoes.

Whitsunday.
Listen sweet Dove unto my song,
And spread thy golden wings in me;
Hatching my tender heart so long,
Till it get wing, and flie away with thee.
Where is that fire which once descended
On thy Apostles? thou didst then
Keep open house, richly attended,
Feasting all comers by twelve chosen men.
Such glorious gifts thou didst bestow,
That th’ earth did like a heav’n appeare;
The starres were coming down to know
If they might mend their wages, and serve here.
The sunne, which once did shine alone,
Hung down his head, and wisht for night,
When he beheld twelve sunnes for one
Going about the world, and giving light.
But since those pipes of gold, which brought
That cordiall water to our ground,
Were cut and martyr’d by the fault
Of those, who did themselves through their side wound,
Thou shutt’st the doore, and keep’st within;
Scarce a good joy creeps through the chink:
And if the braves of conqu’ring sinne
Did not excite thee, we should wholly sink.
Lord, though we change, thou art the same;
The same sweet God of love and light:
Restore this day, for thy great name,
Unto his ancient and miraculous right.

The Temple, George Herbert, 1633