Category: Poetry (Page 1 of 4)

The True Amazon

Our age, in all its folly, thinks

That she who chooses hearth and home life shrinks

From fullness of adventure, of life’s glory,

That hers is but a dull, short story.

But were the truth to once be seen,

Theyd hail her as a champion, a warrior queen.

.

Her kingdom may be small, but oh, its deep,

And so wild its keepers can take but little sleep.

Day by mad day, chaos’s flooding force

Into her realm presses its course;

With patient vigil and with shrewd stratagem

That tide she finds new ways to turn or stem.

Amid the pressing jungle, for the wild things

She raises a fair dwelling, and to it brings

All things needful. This castle she looks after

Armed with her mighty weapons, love and laughter.

.

Warriors of more renown, on fields of blood,

May fight for worthy ends, and maybe do some good,

And yet there’s sorrow in a trade

That must destroy so much that God has made.

But the queen of the hearth fights not as they;

Her tactics, toils, valor are not to slay

But to bring forth life, make it thrive and grow,

To lead the Wild Things the way they ought to go.

.

And though on this dim earth no man may know nor sing

Her labors, deeds, adventures, great heart unwavering,

In courts beyond, where every story will be known,

Shall angel-minstrels tell the tale of the queen of hearth and home.

Above the Storm

The rising, crashing waves of dark

Come rushing up around

The tiny island where we stand,

A scrap of battered ground.

Their brutal might tears round our feet,

A ravenous death-tide,

And everything that’s made of sand

Goes washing down the side.

Beset upon this barren rock,

A small and piteous sight,

Yet will we stand and never fear

The monstrous waves of night.

For all they thunder, thrash and rage,

And pound the stony beach,

The truest object of their hate

Is ever out of reach.

Above the waves, above the storm,

It ever shines the same,

And fills our eyes with certain light,

The blazing Easter flame.

 

The wind comes driving round our heads

And screaming in our ears

Of terror, pain, and emptiness—

All man’s heart hates and fears.

Its voiceless wails bid us give up

Our long and lonely stand

And go the same dark way as all

That’s only made of sand.

Though all but deafened by its blast,

Still if we heed, we hear

Another sound persistently

Pierce all the rush of fear.

‘Tis quieter, but stronger too,

And speaks of greater things,

Whose might and splendor yield naught

To all the tempest brings.

Above the wind, above the storm,

It rises clear and strong,

And fills our spirits’ inner ears,

The soaring Easter song.

 

O hearts that blow in brutal blasts

Or ride the roiling waves,

Come take your stand upon the rock

That still endures and saves!

Though fury of the floods and gale

May with no respite beat,

And though our tears fall bitterly,

Yet will our song be sweet.

Yes, and its sweetness will be sure,

For every storm must end,

And there is a shining sky above

Where all lights rise and blend.

And the Light of the shining sky above

Has taken on the night

And won a way for each and all

To shores with peace alight.

Above the shadows of the storm,

His glorious grace is poured,

His Presence changes everything—

The living Easter Lord!

An Approach to a Familiar Room

Originally published in Wonder magazine

 

The question as I near this door

Is, do I even dare

To enter past it any more,

When ghosts await me there?

Not such as rise from frozen fear

That heroes laugh to scorn,

Nay these, by wearing faces dear,

Draw blood with sorrow’s thorn.

 

My heart still thirsts in tired quest

For these beloved gone;

Shades born of longing promise rest

But leave me still alone.

Each day I see these visions of

Where it seems they should be,

Faces of those whom I still love,

And yearn again to see.

 

Ah ghosts of grief! how can it be

That joys so sweet and pure

Become, as living memory,

Most bitter to endure?

These shades of dear ones ne’er console,

Yet I can’t bid them fly,

For each one’s past bonds with his soul,

Love’s imprint does not die.

 

My God! this love is all from Thee,

Thy Spirit joined our hearts,

Let Him then all our comfort be

While distance still us parts!

Let Him who brought our bond to birth

Now keep it warm and strong,

Be our communion ‘cross the earth,

Be Thyself us among!

 

Keep me for them, and them for me,

And make our love, in small,

Thy mighty sun, bright Trinity,

Untouched and over all;

Lord, pain will ne’er us overwhelm

With ghosts of memory,

If in Thy single Heart we dwell

In sweet reality.

 

Now will I enter through this door,

Be mem’ry e’er so keen,

And should I weep there any more,
God’s light will intervene,

Illumining a landscape dim

To eyes of fleshly ken,

Where all God’s own are joined in Him

Who needs no where nor when.

Summer Night

Earth’s activity is stilled;
houses shut their curtained eyes;
men and beasts and birds in silence hide.
Day’s fire faded, all is soft and cool,
and the world’s colored in dark grays,
deep-water-blues, dim purples, and a bright silver,
earth submerged in a deep, serene sea.

No noise, save insects’ rasping harmony,
And then the wind flows in a light stream,
Bearing fragrance of blossom and leaf,
Turning grass to waves,
Setting leaves to ageless, quivering dance.
They whisper, whisper all the night,
repeating secrets, each to each,
in hidden tongues of mother earth.

Fireflies’ silent calls of light
fill shadows all around,
a storm of golden flash and glitter,
earth’s dark alive with wild, heavenly sparks.
And on high, in the heavens,
in the shadowed, solemn blue,
through gauze of clouds the glowing hosts
of brilliant stars in purest white
as lights of some empyrean realm
still veiled from mortal sight.

Enthroned among them in its radiance,
the moon floats o’er dim night,
to bring it some pale, cool portion
of the sun’s white glory,
a mirror of a day elsewhere.
This dream-light gleams o’er all the earth,
soft silver-white shimmer on field, tree, and wall,
all at rest in quiet and in gentle half-light.

Earth lies asleep, in a dream of heaven,
of a night that will not be dark,
but lovely as morning’s light.

Penitence

Away amidst the desert wastes,
Underneath a furnace sun,
Great stones stand, reaching upward from the plains,
While strong winds, streaming free across bare land,
Make sharp, hard currents of the sand
And scourge the towering rocks continually,
Smoothing, shaping, sculpting,
Their impassioned rush fashioning something new,
Monuments of firm, enduring glory
From Nature’s hard and patient hand.

Walking the burnt, bare wilderness of self-denial
Beneath the Spirit’s ineffable fire,
Our spirits worn and chiseled by the swirling, sandy winds
Of trials that with love we bear,
Yet may joy’s deep torrent through us flow,
For our great Sculptor guides the wind,
And plies it, not to wear us all away,
But that our sculpted souls might take the shape—
From earthly roughness hewn to glorious shape—
Of that which they were always meant to be.

All Souls’ Day

November wind flies swift and strong and cool
Across the crystalline blue lake of sky,
And strews without a clear design or rule
The leaves that so magnificently die.

As splendidly as for a bridal trail,
They tumble, orange, pale gold, spicy red,
And in a gentle tribute lightly sail
Around these stones that mark the sleeping dead.

Some, like small towers, witnessing the losses
Of those who could spare half a fortune’s worth;
Some, sweetly carved with angels or with crosses;
Some, lowly, worn, and sunk into the earth;

But over all, a solemn silence lies,
Thick, heavy, peaceful, like a holy veil,
Unbroken by vain fears and stormy sighs
That thunder round the earth’s embattled pale.

Here, no one worries any more if life
Ne’er granted them success or wealth or fame,
Thinks on the outcome of their weary strife,
Minds mortal talk—to them, ‘tis all the same.

One thing alone is of importance here:
Did these souls, sprung from out the Father’s hand,
Direct their flight up through earth’s little sphere
Home toward His light, the destiny He planned?

If so, they have no more to grieve or dread;
Their earthly quest fulfilled, they now are free,
Or will be soon, for even to the dead
He grants the grace to reach full purity.

And whether plunged in His ecstatic sea
Or passing first through purifying rain,
They’ve gained the priceless pearl, eternity
In His embrace—for which all loss is gain.

Then, too, they rest awaiting even more,
Full, endless life not only for the soul,
For ‘tis their Lord’s design unaltered for
Man’s flesh and spirit that they form one whole.

The day will dawn; the veil o’er all their tombs
Will by a hand on high be rent asunder;
His own will rise as from some poor bedrooms,
Ring out their grateful praise while angels wonder.

One day I too will lie beneath this field,
Desires and fears of mortal life long gone;
What then I’ll find and be remains concealed,
And yet it’s pleasant to reflect upon,

That in my tangled life, the only care
That won’t be borne leaf-like on winds of time
Is following the souls gone safely there,
True home, true life, dear country, hope sublime.

So now I kneel upon their sacred ground,
My mortal mind half grasping all of this,
And lift my suffrage for those laid all round,
To speed their passage to their Father’s bliss.

O great Redeemer, by Whose gift we hold
A hope so full of immortality,
Grant them, and us, when flesh’s fire grows cold,
Your unveiled Face for evermore to see!

Of Rain and Ropes

The soil of earth is parched and cracked,

The dust of earth runs dry;

The sandstorms on the barren sands,

Unblocked, beat hard and sigh.

 

The souls of earth are parched and thin,

Blown fast with pains and fears,

And still run dry in barren lives

Not whole enough for tears.

 

For while we shun the beat of rain,

Our soil shall be dry,

Devoid of sweetness, life, and grace,

A desert made of our own place,

The poison in a sickened face

Not well enough to cry.

 

My heart, like dirt, is drenched from clouds

Of present falling pain,

That saturate my helpless soul

With tears like winter rain;

 

But though it drink this shower cold

Until its soil floats free,

And melts away beneath the flood,

Dissolves as in the sea,

 

I had rather die of precious loss—

Blest ill to perish of!—

Than die like those in deserts bare,

Not well enough to weep or care,

Who gave to life a mere blank stare

And never learned to love.

 

What sky shone bright for ever?

What field stayed e’er in bloom?

What house so noble, high and strong

That Time proved not its doom?

 

E’en should the house or field stand

As long as should the world,

That too must crumble, slip and fall,

Down Time’s swift river whirled.

 

So no love that we joy on earth

Can be had free of tears,

But ever anguish is the cost,

For all things must sometime be lost

That come with passing years.

 

But by the Love that burns through wounds

In hands and feet and side,

Why should our souls then die of thirst

Because we never cried?

 

On earth the souls that never weep

I envy nothing of;

These souls cannot keep all they know,

For everything must come and go;

Their looks of stone can only show

They never learned to love.

 

But I will cherish every grace

That finds me through the years,

And when it passes on again,

I’ll honor it with tears.

 

For we shed e’en our hottest tears

Not as those who lack hope,

But we climb through this toilsome life

As a man climbs up a rope.

 

Though it be steep, and hard to cling,

And too easy to fall,

Above the rope must yet be bound,

Which speaks to us of solid ground,

And in our hope that this be found,

We climb the cliffside’s wall.

 

What’s at the top, no man can see,

Nor heart nor mind conceive,

Wherefore some climbers have denied

A top at all, and dropped and died

All rather than believe.

 

But though my clinging hands may bleed,

I still climb up with hope,

For when I nearly fail, a balm

Comes down and heals each bloody palm

From up above the rope.

 

And when I hear the shrieking winds

That blast my rope about,

Beyond their wails I hear a Voice

That overspeaks my doubt:

 

“Though it be steep, and hard to cling,

And too easy to fall,

I made the way for all your kind

Your joy by tears in faith to find,

Leave then your unbelief behind—

With Me you find your all.”

 

And then I look up wondering,

My heart leaps—could it be?—

All that I’ve lost throughout the climb,

Could it be waiting all the time,

Up at the top for me?

 

“Them you will find, but seek Me first,

And closely heed My call,

The heart that’s given first to Me

Can love the rest most perfectly,

Now take My Hand, though you can’t see—

In Me you find your all.”

 

So in the storm of bloody tears,

His words our hearts defend,

For in that Voice we recognize

The presence of a Friend.

Sunday by the Sea

I went to church down by the seacoast far;

After the bell rang, prayerful spirits fled:

The notes that sprang out from the steel guitar,

They bounced around like balls inside my head,

And all rolled off down some meandering way

Where neither ear nor tongue nor mind could follow;

Weary and vexed, my thoughts floated astray,

My hungry heart all overstuffed yet hollow.

No sense in all this jangling earthly show

Of Who it is behind that curtain dwells,

Whose might and glory round the planet go,

More so than solar fire or ocean swells.

Though folk come here with hearts pure as they can,

Yet this music draws man’s worship to man.

 

Two hours later, I made for the line

Where foaming breakers rush to meet the sand,

The burbling, tinkling shallows, clear and fine,

With softest breath of melting bubbles spanned.

And out beyond them, rumbling from the deep,

Great waves like organs swell their booming strain,

The mighty rhythm of their crash and leap—

How ancient and ageless the sea’s refrain.

Each sound keeps steady measure in its place,

And in sweet, solemn harmony they blend,

Forever singing canticles of grace,

Of unprobed wonder, glory without end.

On contemplation’s tide my heart floats free,

On the immortal music of the sea.

 

Oh, that the melodies we play and sing

In His house—He Whose Hand brought forth the waves—

Gave off a little of that hallowed ring

That man’s soul, hungering to worship, craves!

Patterns of steady grace would join the sounds,

That all our hearts and tongues might pray in song,

Harmonies like the waves that roll their rounds,

Made, by their very order, sweet and strong.

Their task, to lift the mortal mind and heart

On contemplation’s tide to the Divine,

Him Who in might and beauty reigns apart,

Yet deigns to dwell here veiled in bread and wine.

So may we learn in our own artistry

A lesson from the music of the sea.

The Aviator’s Reply

See original poem by Daniel Whitehead Hicky

No intimacy with the deeps of stars
Or meteors can mortal beings know.
Though engines lift this dusty flesh of ours
Through air, to heaven’s shores they cannot go.

I know my Lord prepares my home on high,
Fair beyond even skies of purest light,
Meanwhile, though I may be glad to fly,
I’ll be content on firm ground to alight.

Enchanted Glass

All we upon this earth are flooded round

By blinding sunbeams of Reality,

And yet our vision’s by our weakness bound,

So none takes in their blaze entirely.

 

But each receives some part, and we must work

To share the light among us as we may,

Burn off deceit and all confusion’s murk,

Pour forth the Truth, a white-gold noontime ray.

 

So we reflect it with small plates of glass,

And we call words these mirrors that we wield,

Given to us that we might freely pass

The beams in wisdom through thought’s motley field.

 

Then, with these words, a strange enchanting art

May turn them to reflect another way,

Beaming realities into the heart

By casting keener lights in subtle play,

 

An indirect beam, aimed at spirit’s sight,

A message in the language of the soul,

And we call verse this deep ecstatic light,

This piercing vision of the unseen whole.

 

In thoughtfulness and beauty it reveals

The knowledge that eludes our mundane speech,

Things every human heart by instinct feels,

But, while we think in prose, stay out of reach.

 

We plainly see the way a ship’s designed,

Of wood or iron, moved by fuel or sails,

But in poetic light, we further find

That it plows over dim and flooded vales

 

Like some magician’s chariot through the sky,

Yet wobbles there, fragile uncertain guest

Skirting a world’s surface, humble and shy,

In water-realms a little human nest;

 

Yet bravely it traverses the abyss

As if to leave the very world behind—

Contemplative reflections such as this

In everything a poem’s light can find.

 

Then let us use it to make bright and plain

The glory that all things hold deep in store,

And give the lie to those who would maintain

Our world is chemicals and nothing more.

 

To catch the rarest lights, let us arrange

Our words exquisitely, as if in dance,

Nor garble them into disorder strange

In shallow hope to startle some stray glance.

 

And if we use it with all care and grace,

Its power may burn through our spirits’ eyes

A light from high beyond the depths of space,

And leave us thankful, and a bit more wise.

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