This is the new poetry referred to in First Thursday October and it would have fit nicely in the chapter Fragments of a Natural Narrative. I rather thought with the publication of On Giving My Word I would be cured to writing poetry. Alas it keeps coming. The first is out of my childhood memories and the latter is from my interest in English Romanticism which I think is undervalued as a source for understanding Christianity.
Fireflies and Skippers
As children, my brother and I
were given rock collections and chemistry sets
before we were given Bibles.
With them we quietly competed with each other,
and together we marveled at summer’s fireflies in the empty lot,
at skippers who walked on the pellucid water of a Vermont brook,
and pondered if one might turn milkweed sap into rubber
and spin cottonwood down into silk.
When we did receive our Bibles, we read them
as part of the same continuing story that we had begun,
with little sense of discontinuity between the sources
and have kept them in our own way well into our old age
continuing to serve that little church that gave them.
When the poet Wordsworth
declared that nature was the anchor of his soul,
he was quickly charged with blasphemy,
not so much against an Almighty God,
but, as against the purity of the idea.
That charge overlooked the fact that nature has an unseen door,
which opens on a landscape that is not open to eyesight,
but which imagination can explore with insight.
Through that door, threads of story out pour,
giving rise to the realm of ideas,
as though it, Almighty God entered in
and became man.
When the poet Coleridge
saw sea snakes in the moonlight,
he saw what he could not see in the sunlight,
and frost that came at midnight wrote him a poem,
on the window of his Devon country home.
His sins appear to having been a denier,
of the greatest good for the greatest number
and of eating opium off in the land of Kublai Khan.
which overlooks that good is not a number,
and that nature is not simply a calculation,
but a continuing story.
When the poet Seamus Haeney
saw light in a raindrop
on a December day in county Wicklow,
despite the mutters in his head
of let down and erosion,
he said, “each drop recalls the diamond absolute.”
His sins appear to have been politic,
as in the time of Troubles, he was neither
an informer nor an internee, merely a writer.
which overlooks no one walks out of troubles
which does not have a story that
gives others room to walk as well.