Category: Poetry (Page 1 of 2)

The Host of the Wounded King

All you who weary of living,

All you tear-blinded who stumble,

Finding the road unforgiving,

Feeling your strength slip and crumble,

Though blood from your hands be streaming,

And the cross your backs encumber,

Through this night one star is gleaming:

Strength Himself is of our number!

 

Though we be lonely and desolate,

And our faith’s rock-bed be shaken,

We have not lost our last, nor yet

Are we completely forsaken.

That Lord so battered and slandered

Rises like flame of the morn,

Raising His unconquered standard,

Winding His summoning horn!

 

Rise up to heed His call!

Hail it, for ‘tis addressed

To weary suff’rers all,

Worn, wounded and oppressed.

All earth He means to win;

All souls who dwell therein

Rise as to Him they fall;

His cross, His weapon blest.

That conquest we may share,

All we who crosses bear,

Strange triumph if we dare

To love Him best!

 

Let us not drag like slaves

Burdened and raddled,

But with our King who saves,

Fight even to our graves,

As knights embattled!

Shall we not now perceive?

Hasten, all who believe;

Though all our hearts may grieve

And bones be rattled,

Let us live well and die

Knowing for Whom and why—

He leads us, riding by,

On ass-charger saddled!

 

Hark what we have to win!

Pulling from swamps of sin

Our souls and others’ in

Strength of His power;

Gaining, through patient fight,

Ever a higher height,

Up toward the world of light,

Hour by hour!

All of our bloody tears

Sowing our battlefield,

By our feet hoed, will yield

Fruit past the years,

From faith-laid seed appears

Immortal flower!

 

When we hear glad and resounding

His final blast o’er the earth,

All these grim foes now surrounding

Will, like the womb-walls at birth,

Burst away, and we will gather

Into our King’s lightsome hall,

No more blood-streaming, but rather,

Streaming His joy in its all.

 

Shall we not then rouse our spirits

And stand our ground this one night,

Knowing that we need not fear its

Dark, who have drunk of His light?

Faith’s light kindles Love’s blazing heat,

We fight by its heavenly glow,

Bleeding, but ne’er in defeat—

Till morning His triumph will show!

A Silent Consolation

The silence is tremendous here;

My heart is sore and dry;

I’ve wrung out every bloody tear

And found it good to cry.

 

This emptiness that’s taken hold

Seems to be listening

For some word that cannot be told

Except in suffering.

 

I listen with my weary soul,

My spirit limp and still;

Like water welling in a hole,

Fair sights my worn mind fill.

 

The branches this spot encompass

And sprinkle streams of sun;

Leaves glowing green like bits of glass

Quiver while breezes run.

 

The grass gleams back; the insects whirl;

The flowers softly glow;

Blithe birds and little roguish squirrel

All scurrying by me go.

 

And spread out on majestic high,

Its blue and white aflame

With golden sun, the evening sky,

O’er all my world the same.

 

All these are breathing out to me

A signal growing strong,

One thought—joy, joy—pulsing lightly,

A sweet and throbbing song.

 

“Why joy?” I ask. “What is there here

That should my spirit start?

What does your beauty frail to clear

The burden in my heart?”

 

Swift they reply, “Man, we are more

Than only what you see.

Our beauty is not idle, for

It speaks reality.

 

“Such is your Father, such His hand!

Spilling His splendors forth,

Scatt’ring them so you’ll understand

How His love sets your worth!”

 

“Are you His splendors, then?” say I.

“Yet you are not like Him;

For you too change, and slip, and die—

Small joy in what grows dim.”

 

Swift they reply, “Rejoice we must,

And you too, more than all.

We each are bound to die in dust

Since Adam’s grievous fall;

 

“And so we groan in longing, yes,

But longing not in vain;

There runs a song of hopefulness

Through sun and cloud and rain;

 

“For in the second Adam’s rise

We all are made anew,

And though death swallow earth and skies

‘Tis but a passing through.

 

“O learn now what the seedling shows,

That all your suffering

Is but the sowing of what grows

Unto far greater spring.

 

“Rejoice with us, be sown with us,

And fear ye not to dream

That all griefs may joy-blossom thus,

However sight may seem.”

 

So is it thus that flowers fall,

That suns wear out and die,

That loss besieges sinners all

Beneath the dimming sky—

 

So that all things, consumed and spent,

May keep what seedlings hold,

And with the One Who death-bars rent

Spring up a hundredfold?

 

I see it not, it seems so far,

Yet this I shall not lose,

This glimpsing of the things that are—

This I embrace and choose.

 

The Spirit that gives silent things

A mission and a voice

In silence stills my questionings

And calls me to rejoice.

 

To my Mother

You raise all sorts of flowers, bright splendor from the dirt;

Their beauty thanks, rewards you, in speech of fragrant words.

But when it comes to washing that hundredth smelly shirt,

Scrubbing that thousandth plate off, or picking bunny turds,

Or raking through the thicket of toys and who knows what,

Or once again erasing that pencilled backwards 5,

Or cutting food for hours, yourself oft getting cut,

Vacuum, detergent, wet wipes, grocery bags, miles to drive—

These may not seem as lovely, their fruits meager and mean;

Scarce color or sweet fragrance floats up your work to hail;

Scant thanks on earth for toils of the domestic queen,

No praises for her battle when chaos-weeds assail.

Yet eyes of higher justice, that watch the hidden things,

Observe her life of giving and see there nothing small;

For her is kept a splendor beyond the themes man sings,

Where something fair shall blossom from humble labors all.

And know you that your efforts are altered even now,

By wise and mighty wonder, to sweet resplendent bloom,

Glowing bright hues exquisite, all gathered—who knows how?—

Around the King of Heaven, His high throne to perfume.

The Mercy of Fatima

Twenty long centuries back through Earth’s story,

Broken man heard gracious words from her Son,

“I came to lead up the fallen to glory,

Seeking the lost, lest sin bring them undone.”

So she, one century past, came descending

Out from the splendor and peace near His throne,

Down ‘mid the ugliness and hate unending

That men were reaping, as first they had sown.

 

She came, our Mother! all mercy and brightness,

Strong seaside beacon, all blazing with grace,

Seeing in tattered souls the divine likeness

Hurtling through lonely chasms of space.

Through humble messengers she gave her warning:

“Turn now from sins, lest they tear you apart!

Answer my Son with your love, not with scorning;

Come and learn virtue from your Mother’s heart.”

 

Her chosen seers, they saw her heart bleeding;

With Heaven’s sight she saw all, maybe wept,

For she beheld many loved children speeding

Through empty lives, faith and pledges unkept;

Swarms of the suffering, deep rivers running

Thick with the flow of their blood and their tears;

Cold, careless souls all the agony shunning;

Stony eyes seeing naught but what appears.

 

Yet in her breast her Son’s own heart beat truly,

His will, His love, were hers, burning to bless;

Dear Mother, gathering her children newly,

Clement Queen, pouring forth Heaven’s largesse!

By words and wisdom, by her Spouse the Spirit,

By lights on high and the sun’s changing face,

She made that field, for all who drew near it,

Even in thought, a great wellspring of grace.

 

Come, tortured hearts! fly in hope to your Mother,

Come, doubting souls, hail your most gracious Queen;

No foul grime-clouds can once hope to smother

The Heaven-star now at Fatima seen!

Once with the sun’s mighty flame she dried sweetly

Thousands who gathered in tempest and rain;

Now souls, with pain or crime sodden completely,

In her Son’s flaming love she warms again!

 

Through this past century, blackest and bleakest

Of any age that has known foolish man,

How many heard, when their spirits grew weakest,

Her gentle call, “Rise, come home–you still can!”

How many came to that high-favored field,

Seeking their share in the grace that she brought,

And found their mustard-seed faith, sown there, yield

Harvest of joy beyond all hope or thought!

A Word on the Sacred Heart

As through the midnight shades I go,
Amid the dark I see a glow,
So bright, so warm, a wide window–
O Lord, is it Thy Heart?

I feel its warmth from where I stand,
Its sweetness ‘mid the barren land,
Reach from it, Lord, and take my hand–
Bring me into Thy Heart.

There shall I find all I could miss,
My every true love’s fullest bliss,
If Thou, dear Lord, but grant me this–
To keep me in Thy Heart.

The Easter Candles

 

Lights out! and all is dark throughout the nave;

Dim faces float like Hades’ ghosts all round,

Gazing out eagerly as from a grave

Toward a faint flicker and a subtle sound.

A voice resounding strong the stillness breaks,

And in our midst leaps up a starlike light;

The heavy night unto its splendor wakes,

Awakes from somberness to God’s delight.

For as the flame advances through our ranks,

Its glow is born afresh in all our hands;

The night turns beautiful as gladsome thanks

Rise from this Vigil, as our faith commands.

Then lights above once more break over all,

And lively bells the hour of triumph call.

 

So lay the weary world in thick of night,

In sin’s long shadow of mortality,

Straining its eyes toward the stupendous fight

Where Light died to flame up eternally.

A world of shades, that only dark’s reign knew,

Awoke and blinked and hailed its rising Sun,

And in His friends’ poor timid hearts there grew

A glow of joy, a fire of love, each one

Receiving these as candle flames from Him,

And passing them to whoso they could find;

So though the earth be wrapped in shadows grim,

Bright joy-flame marks the Risen Savior’s kind,

Who look on toward a day to end all night,

When dark shall flee before the conqu’ring Light.

 

Take then this deathless light He’s kindled here;

Receive it, all you souls who live in gloom;

Let it in all your thoughts and ways appear,

Inflame your heart, and all your world illume.

No longer can we live as men before;

Despair does not become believing hearts;

Our hymn of wond’ring gratitude must soar,

Aglow with love and finest craft of arts.

So though we still dwell on a darkened Earth,

In fairest light and trusting hope we’ll live,

Our souls the candles lit at our rebirth

With that blest fire that Jesus came to give–

Until the stand against the dark is past,

And Day to end all night breaks forth at last!

Wounds

Ugly, ragged things,

Red footprints of this sin-ridden Earth,

Red and gaping eyes all weeping forth

Streams of sufferings.

 

Open doors to dirt,

Foul invasion of rent flesh and heart,

Corruption growing in every part,

Each unguarded hurt.

 

Signs of Adam’s fall,

Dragging down his children farther still,

Paining, tempting, threatening to kill,

Bitter plague to all.

 

Then laid senselessly

Upon flesh that could not know such stain,

Letting sacred blood-streams out to drain

Over Calvary.

 

Horrors lifted high,

Smears of evil making Him downtrod

Who is all glory—gore ripped from God,

Blackening the sky!

 

Tearing a divide

Far below that bloody, barren height,

In the curtain grim that barred the light,

Blindingly divine, from human blight—

Split now, like His side.

 

Floodgates to the earth,

Gashes letting streams of healing in,

Founts of anguish through which, for our sin,

Seas of peace and comfort now have been

Won—His sorrow’s worth!

 

Darkened soon, and dry,

Then, in darkness, brilliantly inflamed

With a fire like dawn, with something claimed

That leaves death itself to be ashamed—

Eloi Adonai!

 

Blazing signs, now free

From the bitter shame and ugliness,

Burning sunlike through our hopelessness,

Challenging our feeble hearts to guess

What’s past Calvary.

 

Here, on us, our pain,

Ugly, shameful, most bitter to bear,

Our hope too, and when we follow there,

Likening us to His splendor fair,

Who was hurt and slain.

Coming Home

in the same pattern as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “My Lost Youth”

 

Here, where in sacred silence reigns

The last King on hidden throne,

And colored glass the sunlight stains,

I hope that he may hear the pains

Of an exile all alone.

For a voice from within my heart

Is endlessly calling thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

Long, long ago I set out from the town

And the house of my first years,

Where my memories soaked through the ground

And the roots of my heart twined down and around,

And I glanced behind with tears.

And that voice like a piercing blade

Was tearing my spirit thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

As I walked a land that I knew not,

I would feel my exile keen,

And my pain of love grew deep and hot

As my thoughts rejoined each hallowed spot

Of the home where I had been.

And that voice like a wasteland wind

Was echoing bleakly thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

But the current of time poured a healing stream

On my aching, yearning heart,

And steady change like unthinking dream

Made all my world refashioned seem

And life made another start.

And that endless murmuring voice

Called now but mildly thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

In time, the life I’d newly found

Showed its beauties bright to me,

And my memories soaked into the ground,

And the roots of my heart twined down and around,

And I dwelt there happily.

And that voice sounding warm and sweet,

If I left, kept calling thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

But the current of time is never still,

Never knew a foe nor friend;

So it steals away both good and ill,

And empties where it once did fill,

So my new life had to end.

And that voice, like a mourning bell,

Was bitterly chiming thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

Once again the yawning gap of space

Spread between me and my home,

And as I left each well-known place

And turned in tears from each dear face,

I felt earth a spreading tomb.

And I heard that soft, sad voice

Like a grieved friend calling thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

Many moons would wax and wane before

I was free to heed that call.

But when I trod the old ground o’er

And saw my little land once more,

I found change come over all.

And that voice sounding pained and lost

Was persistently calling thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

O where can I go on the whole wide earth

Where that summons I may heed?

This cry that’s been with me from birth,

It grows near maddening for dearth

Of a sating for its need!

Blessed God, what shall I do?

For that voice is still calling me thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

O Thou far the mightiest, richest King,

Who hear all the crying poor,

Wilt Thy power infinite not bring

The lost one in his suffering

To a rest for spirits sore?

For so many hearts like mine

Are hearing the anguished call,

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

Now from a thin ray that falls like rain,

From a flame in crimson glass,

From a tiny image, dark and plain,

Of a figure stretched in mortal pain,

Like all men’s grief wrought in brass,

Now I seem to hear those words

From above me whispered thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

And the sculptures white that ring this hall

As around the square in Rome,

Now seem to look down, glad and tall,

As victors over sorrows all,

From their hard-won, well-loved home.

And they call their cheers to me,

Silent voices ringing thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

From these hallows into meadows green

Go I through a streaming breeze,

And the clouds all flame with glory keen,

Golden fire spread o’er the human scene,

Glowing through raindrops and trees.

And that voice like a horn of hope

Through it all is calling thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

When the end of this wandering draws near,

Blessed King, o send Thy voice;

All my days for Thee I’ll labor here,

That the homeward summons I may hear

That makes weary hearts rejoice,

When that voice sounding glad at last

Shall call me for one more time:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies;

Enter your peace.”

Synkatabasis

Staining streaks across my face,

Grief-blurred eyes to Thee I raise,

Lifting up my sickened moan

Toward Thy likeness carved in stone.

Looking up, I think I see,

In the dim light, suddenly–

Hardly dare I speak for fear–

On Thy cheek is that a tear?

 

Sick and sad, my soul leaves blood

Staining everywhere I’ve stood;

Silent crying for the thorn

Tearing at this heart forlorn.

Lonely, cut from human aid,

Gaze I up, worn out, afraid,

Lo! the Hand raised over me

Sheds blood more profusély.

 

Know’st Thou, then, a grief like mine?

What deep anguish has been Thine?

Dost Thou know the voidish night,

Hours of bitter, silent fight?

Hast Thou known the stabbing woe

Of betrayed poor hearts below?

Thou hast felt it, I can see,

For Thou now weepest with me.

Beati

When you’re round beset with losses

And your heart and flesh stripped bare,

When you look for the old comforts

But find only empty air,

When you’re driven to the limits

Of what feelings can endure,

Let your spirit hear your Savior

Saying, “Blessed are you poor.”

 

When you hear the world’s cruel laughter

For the love by which you live,

When you find no one who’s willing

To accept the heart you give,

When you’re crushed beneath betrayal,

Growing weary, feeling weak,

Let your spirit hear your Savior

Saying “Blessed are you meek.”

 

When the sight of your corruption

Tempts you to shrink back in fear,

When life strikes your tend’rest center,

Sparing not your sacred dear,

When some rare unspoken anguish

Leaves your soul deep gashes torn,

Let your spirit hear your Savior

Saying, “Blest are you who mourn.”

 

When you feel your life outflowing

Like the blood from piercéd side,

Let your spirit hear your Savior

Saying, “Blest you crucified!

Blest are all who suffer with Me,

For I promise you shall rise.

In My plan, the one who triumphs

Must be first the one who dies.”

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