My third posting of poetry I like by other people.
Maybe a nod to Philip Larkin in this one?
It doesn’t come easy.
In spite of it all,
I can’t help pushing open
the doors of country churches;
shoving a coin or two
in the box on the wall,
paying twice over
for the leaflet I take.
It doesn’t come easy.
Wandering among gravestones
departure is almost
impossible. I delay
it over and over
to hear once more the song of the blackbird.
It doesn’t come easy.
As I race back
into the modern
I think of cathedral towns
and country rectories
and gentle rectors’ wives
arranging the flowers.
Another poem that I liked- by Winifred Young. One of two I am
posting today (see previous post)
Some miracles are slow:
white lilac each returning Spring
(whiter than all detergent claims);
healing of tissue- failing that,
the spirit’s adaptation, achievement of serenity;
faith’s slow gestation- many months or years,
a lifetime even;
(and who can know how long a labyrinth of thought
the Spirit threaded
that St Paul should see a sudden light?)
awareness of Your presence
– though always there.
How many miracles in soul or body
go without recognition?
the nerve that grows, the strengthened will,
Some miracles don’t happen, but
there are alternatives.
today I am sharing a poem which I found on a postcard
at an Anglican Retreat Centre. I have never forgotten its
sensitivity- and I have never yet seen the kingfisher, nor
the answer to some of my prayers. Yet, I still hope.
DISCLOSURE by Ann Lewin
Prayer is like waiting for the
Kingfisher. All you can do is
Be where he is likely to appear, and
Often, nothing much happens;
There is space, silence and
No visible sign, only the
Knowledge that he’s been there
And may come again
Seeing or not seeing cease to matter,
You have been prepared
But when you’ve almost stopped
Expecting it, a flash of brightness
Having to focus
on an unattractive man
who is a preacher
tends to detract from his words.
Some sit at the front,
or put things on the first row,
to reserve places.
Those who are retired are worst:
they have ample time to fill;
they don’t pay much heed
to what is actually said;
they love self-exhibition.
As for most young men,
they scrutinise the women.
It wasn’t like this before.
Still inspired by The Pillow Book (10th century Japan)
(Wikimedia Commons; Third Princess)
At Hase Temple,
there was a vulgar scrabble
to see the Buddha
and to present petitions.
A conch shell would blast
and a bell reverberate.
Your own devotions
could easily be side-tracked
by other pilgrims’ requests.
The devout will pray
practically the whole day;
some even at night,
but a few young men
just go to meet girls.
Paul was in the agora (market-place)
and saw the altar to The Unknown God.
Unimpressed by ineffability,
he was moved to make a proclamation.
Being keen on words and declaration,
he spelled out the Creator’s qualities.
A skilled orator, he had qualities
respected by debaters in that place.
Converts were won by his declaration.
Diogenes submitted to Paul’s God
and was made Bishop by proclamation:
an agent for Ineffability.
Could God retain ineffability
and yet reveal immanent qualities?
His Son, some say, was the Proclamation-
the One prepared to come down to this place,
to manifest the true nature of God
the Father – a fleshly declaration.
Not speculation, but declaration
Paul introduced the Personhood of God
and defined the Almighty’s qualities.
Stoics, Epicureans in that place
felt the power of his proclamation.
The gods had made their own proclamation
on that very site and a declaration
of guilt had been conferred in that same place,
for crimes besmirch ineffability:
Halirrhothius judged for qualities
inconsistent with the ways of a god.
On that steep Hill of Mars, who was the god
of War, Paul made a love proclamation.
He swept away the fickle qualities
of their deities. His declaration
was that Divine Ineffability
condescended to one time and one place.
Paul’s proclamation; God’s declaration:
of qualities, so we transcend our place.
The baby’s first steps
were reputedly seven.
A lotus blossomed,
marking the length of each stride.
On the last, he spoke:
There will be no more comings!
All over the world
(The Big Foot Era
was inaugurated by
Empress Wu Zetian.)
Messiahs, kings and despots
thereafter trampled the Earth.
(Wikimedia Commons. Image: Tido, 1993. Lumbini Stupa)
Another series which might be a good source
of inspiration. Here’s a start, with one of my
(Temple Bell by Sin; JAOD site)
to the arrogant.
The breeze blows soft dust away –
so shall tyrants die.
Taira renounced his royal rank;
became a subject.
Six generations later,
although financed by the state,
no one was at court
who had descended from him
and the teak tree’s blooms
declare that all shall wither.
went to Kumano by boat,
a Suzuki fish
leapt aboard his vessel.
The Gongen’s favour
was shown to him in this way.
He’d observed Prohibitions,
including not eating meat,
but he cooked and ate the fish!
Good fortune blessed him.
He became Dajodaijin,
swiftly, as dragons
are known to rise above thick clouds.
saw half the swords were broken
on the battlefield.
After thirty days he’d forged
curved, slaughter-proof blades.
The gohei protect
our tatara from evil.
Older steel will stretch.
By the flames’ colour, we know
when the curve must be straightened.
Burns just mark me out;
hammering gives me tremor.
I can’t stop half-way.
Cold alloy cannot be worked.
I cannot grip my chopsticks.
Thick clay is applied
to the blades, before quenching.
with a gradual cooling:
that is how we gain our souls.
The visual effect
of differential hardening –
a bright, speckled band –
can be seen from long angles:
nioi can never be faked.
Sharpening gives shape:
it can take up to two months.
Some old tachi blades
can be converted, but lose
signatures in the process.
or ‘Moving Zen’ as it’s called,
used by Iadoka
show two hands better than one:
tensile strength and grace revealed.
You protect your lord.
Seppuka preserves honour,
of deity and mankind.