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Tag: Poetry

Lot’s Wife

I’ve been meaning to blog this poem for a while.

I came across it in The Times newspaper in London, as they have a regular Monday poem slot, and it struck me (and continues to strike me) as a curious poem that has given me plenty to think about. I was also very struck by the commentary that was written by Frieda Hughes, which I would urge you to read here.

by Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) (Akhmatova, translated by D.M. Thomas, Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets)

And the just man trailed God’s messenger,
His huge, light shape devoured the black hill.

But uneasiness shadowed his wife and spoke to her:

“It’s not too late, you can look back still

At the red towers of Sodom, the place that bore you,
The square in which you sang, the spinning-shed,

At the empty windows of that upper storey
Where children blessed your happy marriage-bed.”

Her eyes that were still turning when a bolt
Of pain shot through them, were instantly blind;

Her body turned into transparent salt,

And her swift legs were rooted to the ground.

Who mourns one woman in a holocaust?
Surely her death has no significance?

Yet in my heart she never will be lost,

She who gave up her life to steal one glance.

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POSTED 01.05.08 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Lot’s Wife

Lot's Wife

I’ve been meaning to blog this poem for a while.

I came across it in The Times newspaper in London, as they have a regular Monday poem slot, and it struck me (and continues to strike me) as a curious poem that has given me plenty to think about. I was also very struck by the commentary that was written by Frieda Hughes, which I would urge you to read here.

by Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) (Akhmatova, translated by D.M. Thomas, Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets)

And the just man trailed God’s messenger,
His huge, light shape devoured the black hill.

But uneasiness shadowed his wife and spoke to her:

“It’s not too late, you can look back still

At the red towers of Sodom, the place that bore you,
The square in which you sang, the spinning-shed,

At the empty windows of that upper storey
Where children blessed your happy marriage-bed.”

Her eyes that were still turning when a bolt
Of pain shot through them, were instantly blind;

Her body turned into transparent salt,

And her swift legs were rooted to the ground.

Who mourns one woman in a holocaust?
Surely her death has no significance?

Yet in my heart she never will be lost,

She who gave up her life to steal one glance.

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POSTED 01.05.08 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Lot's Wife

Beyond The Wilderness – too busy to blog..!

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It’s been a little hectic at Beyond The Wilderness for the past two days. Today, myself, Sarah de Nordwall and Bart Wolffe ran a poetry workshop. It was a great day – everyone who was there learnt a great deal – not least the poets running the workshop!

The seminar consisted of an in depth discussion of how people through church history have shown their spirituality through poetry, plus a deep discussion of personal and spiritual journeys as they manifest in the authors’ creations – all rounded off with an exploration of iambic pentameters, sonnets and villanelles.

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…and yesterday we had a busy day with no less than three groups of school children from local schools lead by both Trine Jørgenson and Phil Medley. I was (quite rightly) not allowed to photograph the school children, as I didn’t have clearance to do so. But for your delectation below are the smiling faces of Phil and Trine.

Don’t forget – the show’s not over yet. We still have part 2 of the Lent Course to come, lead by Peter Hyson this time on Wednesday. You can still go and wander round the show and take the lenten journey through the works, which I would recommend as a great spiritual reflection to help you think about Lent.

And finally, of course we have the cabaret on Thursday night – our closing event. Tickets for the cabaret are £3 per person. As many of you will know from the previous cabaret, we have good quality acts, and the entry fee is a bargain. You won’t be disappointed. Although the gallery is closed on Sunday & Monday we look forward to seeing you over the next few days – open from Tuesday through to Thursday night.

Trine JørgensonPhil Medley

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POSTED 16.02.08 BY: paulabbott | Comments (1)

Advent

There was a time when there was no time,
When darkness reigned as king,
When a formless void was all that there was
in the nothingness of eternity,
When it was night.
But over the void and over the night Love watched.
There was a time when time began.
It began when Love spoke.
Time began for light and life, for splendor and grandeur.
Time began for seas and mountains, for flowers and birds.
Time began for the valleys to ring with the songs of life,
and for the wilderness to echo with the wailing of wind
and howling of animals.
And over the earth, Love watched.

There was a time when time began to be recorded.
A time when Love breathed and a new creature came to life.
A new creature so special that it was in the image and likeness of Love
Of Love who is God.
And so human was born and the dawn of a new day shone on the world.
And over human, Love watched.

But there came a time when the new day faded.
A time when human who was like God tried to be God.
A time when the creature challenged the creator.
A time when human preferred death to life and darkness to light.
And so the new day settled into twilight.
And over the darkness, Love watched.

There was a time of waiting in the darkness.
A time when human waited in the shadows,
And all creation groaned in sadness.
There was waiting for Love to speak again–for Love to breathe again.
And kings and nations and empires rose and faded in the shadows.
And Love waited and watched.

Finally, there came a time when Love spoke again.
A Word from eternity–a Word
Spoken to a girl who belonged to a people not known by the world
Spoken to a girl who belonged to a family not known by her people
To a girl named Mary.
And all creation waited in hushed silence for the girl’s answer.
And Mary spoke her yes.
And Love watched over Mary.
And so there came a time when Love breathed again
When Love breathed new life into Mary’s yes.
And a new day dawned for the World
A day when light returned to darkness, when life returned to dispel death
And so a day came when Love became man–a mother bore a child.
And Love watched over Love–a Father watched His Son.

And, lastly, there came a time when you and I became a part of time.
Now is the time that you and I wait.
Now we wait to celebrate what the world waited for.
And as we wait to celebrate what was at one time, we become a part of that time
A time when a new dawn and a new dream and a new creation began for human.
And as a part of time, Love waits and Love watches over us.

Fr. Joseph Breighner

The Catholic Review, 11-28-80

POSTED 02.12.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on Advent

No Priestly Life


I have a confession to make.

I have found myself becoming rather alarmed at the number of people who have recently become ordinands, and priests in moot. So many decent people, so many leaving us to go to college. Where will it all end?

This morning as part of the “poetry boot-camp” I am putting myself through at the moment, I thought I might take up this theme for a rondeau redoublé, entitled: “No Priestly Life”

“No priestly life for me”, that’s what I said.
I’m asked if I will think from time to time.

I’d rather be an atheist or dead
than give my life to serve communion wine.

They feel they’re called, or saw some Godly sign.
The problem is, they’ve got it in their head

from any other job, I should resign

“No priestly life for me”, that’s what I said.

A Sunday morning should be spent in bed,
listening to nearby church bells chime.

But others think I should be there instead.

I’m asked if I will think from time to time.

I’m healthy – some would say I’m in my prime.
I’ve got what people call some good street cred.

I think the very thought is asinine

I’d rather be an atheist or dead.

So every time I’m asked, I feel a dread.
Refusal on my part is not a crime
I’d rather stay as laity instead
than give my life to serve communion wine.

“NO priestly life!”

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POSTED 09.10.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments (9)

Powerlessness and the fascinations of fundamentalism

Wise beyond all words,
Light beyond all light,
Joy beyond all joy
Ache beyond all aching.

G-d inspires the smallest and the largest moment of life in a single instant that lasts an eternity’s blushing kiss.

Beyond you there is only more of you. Within you there is still the fullness of you. We whirl and dance, held in your thrall. You are everything to us and yet so beyond our knowing. You are no-thing to us and in your no-thing-ness you remind us of the hopes and fears, the limits and frustrations of the human place in creation.

Blinded and yet seeing, we are yours forever. And you are ours. Your life is our life. Our knowledge is your knowledge, your time is our life, and our lives are your gift.

POSTED 21.08.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments (2)

You Treat Sex Like a Scratch Card

I once taught poetry to a delightful girl, who was also working as a lap dancer. One day, I decided to read her my poem ‘You Treat Sex like a Scratch Card’, which was written for another friend of mine. However, on hearing the middle section she squealed with laughter, rolled on the floor and cried out ‘How did you know about the organic milk?’. Just another little example of the prophetic power of poetry, I assured her; bemused.

She doesn’t work as a lap dancer any more and I suppose I’d like to think that discovering how talented she was in the poetry department helped in that process. At any rate, I was performing the poem again on Sunday, within sight of St Pauls Cathedral, as part of a campaign against the trafficking of women into this country for sex. www.thetruthisntsexy.com and www.chaste.org.uk are challenging the demand for these ‘services’ and asking the governement to provide more safe houses for women who escape from the trade.

In the meantime, back to the organic milk and the odd coincidence that the poem was being performed by the ‘white plaza’ of St Pauls Cathedral, in brilliant sunshine, just like the vision in the poem.

You Treat Sex like a Scratch Card

You treat sex like a scratch card.
Do you think you’ll get lucky one day
And if enough cherries appear in a row
You’ll know that this time you’re OK?

You don’t pay much for your scratch cards.
You think that that’s all that they cost
But I’ve seen you walk the white plaza in sunshine
And that is a vision you’ve lost.

You treat sex like scratch cards.
They don’t even give you a thrill.
The more you lose, the more you buy
I don’t want to think of the bill.

And now you buy organic milk
And then have sex with strangers.
Do you think in the world of milk
You overestimate the dangers?

Yes, the hormone/farming issue;
I’m wholly convinced it’s real
But in the economy of grace
Is there nothing you can feel?

So now you’ve been out again and f****’d
And you feel you’re falling freely
Into self-destruct.
And you don’t think of suicide
Because you’re not that type
And Russian Roulette of the sexual kind
Is just a load of hype.

So here’s to the world of plastic balls
Of lottery prizes and draws.
But I place my bet on the day that we met
And the vision was mine and yours.

Sarah de Nordwall
www.bardschool.co.uk

You can sign up on http://www.chaste.org.uk/takeaction/ for info on how to try and get the government to take action, as they have in Sweden, and make the purchasing of pay as you go sex illegal.

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POSTED 22.05.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on You Treat Sex Like a Scratch Card

Another Poem from Peter Thomas on the theme of Easter


Busking at Easter

My Good Friday was a bad one.
I carried my guitar’s cross
Along a Northern Line’s Via Dolorosa
To a Central Line’s Golgotha: Chancery Lane
Where I was strung up on my guitar
For public humiliation.

They threw things at me:
Coins, glances; cursed me with their ennui.
And their opinions – my purple robe – divided amongst them.

Signs saying Beware Thieves –
Keep valuables out of sight
Were nailed to the wall either side of me,
To the left and to the right

A mother beheld her son,
As I murdered Amazing Grace
And when I sung Piano Man,
A tear ran away from her face.

And I wailed House of the Rising Sun
And some lads aimed insults at me
But a Yanky tourist said Gee, say Martha,
This guy oughta be on TV

Then when the time came and I’d bled all my sweat
For thirty silver coins and a dime
I laid me down on my way home
But I’ll be back in two days time.

© Peter Thomas 2007

POSTED 24.04.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments (1)

What I found in the Garden Tomb

One April I travelled to Israel with the Sisters of Zion on a trip to visit a whole host of peace initiatives, that involved both Arabs and Jews or people from 3 different religions. The first Arab/Jewish nursery in a private home shared by 2 families, one Palestinian, the other Israeli. A crossroads at which a mosque, a synagogue and a church stood within feet of each other, and they all worked together peacefully on a single project.


We also visited groups that were strictly living on their own terms and on their own turf. The ultra orthodox neighbourhood of Mayer Sharim, where “daughters of Jerusalem” do not “disgrace” themselves by wearing trousers. We saw the remains of the first strictly socialist Kibbutz which banned marriage and whose motto over the door read somewhat chillingly “Freedom through Work” – the same motto that was placed over the entrance to the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau (see picture on the right). We visited the graves of the members of that first Kibbutz, who had died of starvation or suicide. It wasn’t exactly your average holiday.

Later, we sat on low stools around a brass tray table in a ‘Casbar’, drinking very strong coffee, to hear from the man who holds the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where many Christian denominations from Coptic to Orthodox both pray and argue incessantly over who owns what and who can go where and when. It was an extraordinary microcosm of history, human stupidity, diplomacy and devotion.

By the end of the 10 day trip, I was exhausted and planning the osteopathy appointment I’d need on my return to recover from the stress of having to make sense of it all. Our very last appointment was the Garden Tomb. The sun at least was shining. I felt rather depressed though, about the whole maelstrom and wasn’t remotely in the mood for having Holy Thoughts at a site that was highly unlikely to have really been the place of Jesus’ tomb. I stood outside and looked at it, wondering if I would bother to go in.

Some people came out and it was left empty. I decided I may as well take a look and say some kind of a prayer or something. I never expected the power and simplicity of what I found.

The Garden Tomb

The tomb was empty of all but light

And the sunshine blessed the opening in the roof of the tomb
Like a messenger from a brighter world.

And in the absence of everyone else
Both the living and the dead

Whose endless needs and questions had been oppressing me darkly
With the weight of their centuries of irresolvable agonies

They were suddenly present.

They were there

They has blossomed instantaneously into being
Unquestionably

As simple as sunflowers

The Five Words

For the feeding of the seven times seventy thousand
And power was in them
And I knew it then

Love is stronger than death

Let’s hear it again!

Love Is Stronger Than Death

Amen
Amen
Amen.

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POSTED 12.04.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments Off on What I found in the Garden Tomb

The Scarecrow Poem by Peter Thomas

Peter Thomas who comes to our services when he can sent me this moving poem – as a reflection on the crucifixion. It is extremely good…

The Scarecrow

A scarecrow stands upon a hill
His arms out-stretched so wide they fill
Some birds with fear; others perch
Upon his shoulders made of birch.
His spikey brow, his turnip nose
His arms of straw, his splintered toes

Some birds mock; others jeer
Some bird’s beaks as sharp as a spear

His loin-cloth waist, his robe all rotten
Made from cloth torn top to bottom

Fennel, barley, rape and rue
Forgive the birds they know not what they do
And give us this day our daily bread
Less birds eat seed that’s sown instead

Larceny’s the crow’s confession
He was pierced for the crow’s transgression

And forsaken by the farmer’s wife
Who stable-made his rustic life
Of flesh of paper, blood of sap
she placed a feather in his cap

And thus in a field be done thy will
The scarecrow’s arms are stretched-out still
Before the raven, crow and gull
Upon a hill they call
The skull

Copyright Peter Thomas

POSTED 06.04.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments (6)