Sunday Poetry

I should program this ahead, so that it happens: this week has been difficult. As this blog is primarily the lectionary, and I feel brittle, broken and at times lost this poem resonates today.

The Windows.

Lord, how can man preach thy eternall word?
He is a brittle crazie glasse:
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.

But when thou dost anneal in glasse thy storie,
Making thy life to shine within
The holy Preachers; then the light and glorie
More rev’rend grows, & more doth win:
Which else shows watrish, bleak, & thin.

Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one
When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and aw: but speech alone
Doth vanish like a flaring thing,
And in the eare, not conscience ring.

George Herbert, 1633

Moving to a modern poet, who knew more Maori than he would admit: admitted to the Catholic Church and married to a woman from the local Maori from his home town: Written as he was dying in a Catholic settlement on the Wanganui river.

Hatana is Satan: Tena Koe is good afternoon.

And this melding of Maori and English has been bowlderized and made official: the more so no one can understand what the government is planning.

Jerusalem Sonnets 11

One writes telling me I am her guiding light
And my poems her bible — on this cold morning

After moss I smoke one cigarette
And hear a magpie chatter in the paddock,

The image of Hatana — he bashes at the windows
In idiot spite, shouting — ‘Pakeha! You can be

‘The country’s leading poet’ — at the church I murmured, ‘Tena koe,’
To the oldest woman and she replied, ‘Tena koe’—

Yet the red book is shut from which I should learn Maori
And these daft English words meander on,

How dark a light! Hatana, you have gripped me
Again by the balls; you sift and riddle my mind

On the rack of the middle world, and from my grave at length
A muddy spring of poems will gush out.

James K Baxter, 1971