Tag Archives: poetry

Give beauty back to God, beauty’s self and beauty’s giver

A striking line
in Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo,” “Give
beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty’s self and beauty’s
giver.”  English Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins
(1844-1889) was renowned for his use of Blessed John Duns Scotus’ theology
and his creative use of language and rhythm (notice Hopkins’ characteristic
stresses on certain words).

The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo

(Maiden’s song
from St. Winefred’s Well)

The Leaden Echo

How to kéep–is there ány any, is
there none such, nowhere known some, bow or 

brooch or braid or brace, láce,
latch or catch or key to keep

Back beauty, keep it, beauty, beauty, beauty, …
from vanishing away?

Ó is there no frowning of these wrinkles, rankéd wrinkles

Dówn? no waving off of these most mournful messengers, still 

sad and stealing messengers of grey?

No there ‘s none, there ‘s none, O no
there ‘s none,

Nor can you long be, what you now are, called fair,

Do what you
may do, what, do what you may,

And wisdom is early to despair:

Be beginning;
since, no, nothing can be done

To keep at bay

Age and age’s evils, hoar

Ruck and wrinkle, drooping, dying, death’s worst, winding sheets, tombs
and worms and

tumbling to decay;

So be beginning, be beginning to despair.

there ‘s none; no no no there ‘s none:

Be beginning to despair, to

Despair, despair, despair, despair.

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Snow and Ice

bird feeder February 1 2011.jpg“The Snow-Storm” comes to mind today. There’s a certain end-times (should we say a 19th century apocalypticism?) quality to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem that life and death are confronted, forward motion is reduced-if-not-halted the boundaries are indistinct. Looking out my window I see the barrenness of the landscape with only the evergreens providing color save for the woodpecker, the bluejay and the cardinals collecting their food at the feeder. The property lines aren’t present and movement is difficult either by foot, car, or train, and forget the airplane. The vivid white of the snow and ice is blinding. 

So, I think it’s time for a change in weather. Don’t you?

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New Heaven, New War

Robert Southwell SJ.jpgOne of my favorite 16th century recusant poets is Saint Robert Southwell, an English Jesuit who preached the gospel in very trying circumstances. Southwell chose the obedience to be a Catholic priest in a country that outright persecuted Catholics and their priests. Ordained a Jesuit priest in 1584, his personal, theological and ministerial imagination, his human and divine calling, was to respond positively to a letter of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus of February 20, 1585 looking for missionaries to England. Southwell knew that his positive response to his religious superior would very likely end in martyrdom. Saint Robert Southwell’s poetry is challenging for the 21st century ear but worth the work of coming to understand his art and message. One such poem is “New Heaven, New War” expressing the Mystery of the Incarnation of God in history, the birth of Jesus.

Come to your heaven, you heavenly quires!
Earth hath the heaven of your desires;
Remove your dwelling to your God,
A stall is now His best abode;
Sith men their homage do deny.
Come, angels, all their faults supply.
His chilling cold doth heat require,
Come, seraphim, in lieu of fire;
This little ark no cover hath,
Let cherubs’ wings his body swathe;
Come, Raphael, this babe must eat,
Provide our little Toby meat.

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After Eden

If only I could return,

to feel your hands
            calm and
            fashioning me in your image,

to hear your voice
            tranquil and easy
over me,

to see your eyes
            fervent and beautiful
            revealing yourself to me.

            this time,
            I will not be afraid.

Brother Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
Third Year Seminary Student (2010)
Saint Joseph’s Seminary-Dunwoodie, Yonkers, NY

What News This Bitter Night?

     What news, what news this bitter night,

     When all is
shuttered in the gloom?

No news except a baby born,

Who finds within an ox’s
stall his narrow room.

     What men are these who hurry past?

     What wonder do they
run to see?

Shepherds who heart the herald song,

Who haste in stable to adore
the mystery.

     What child is this who, sleeping, makes

     The manger throne his
resting place?

None but the King of heaven high,

Born into dying to redeem our
fallen race!

      What shall I bring to honor Him?

      What homage pay, what poor gift

Naught but your heard which, dead in sin,

Finds in this Child redeeming
love—and strength to live!

poem is by the late Dr. Henry Letterman, longtime professor of English at
Concordia Teachers College, River Forest, IL. Dr. Richard Hillert, of the same institution, put this poem to music for Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, IL. It was recorded by the Schola Cantorum of St. Peter’s in the Loop in 1992.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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