Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

A Poem by Scott Cairns

Friday, August 6th, 2021

A poem for the Feast of the Transfiguration

As We See

“The transfiguration of our Lord, that is the radiance
in which he was bathed at the pinnacle of Mount Tabor
did not manifest a change in him, but a change
in those who saw him.”
-Isaac the Least

Suppose the Holy One Whose Face We Seek
is not so much invisible as we
are ill-equipped to apprehend His grave
proximity. Suppose our fixed attention
serves mostly to make evident the gap
dividing what is seen and what is here.

The Book there on the stand proves arduous
to open, entombed as it is in layers
of accretion, layers of gloss applied
to varied purposes, hardly any of them
laudable, so many, guarded ploys
to keep the terms quite still, predictable.

Which is why I’m drawn to — why I love — the way
the rabbis teach. I love the way they read —
opening The Book with reverence for what
they’ve found before, joy for what lies waiting.
I love the Word’s ability to rise again
from chronic homiletic burial.

Say the One is not so hidden as we
are kept by our own conjuncture blinking,
puzzled, leaning in without result. Let’s say
the meek, the poor, the merciful all
suspect his hand despite the evidence.
as for those rarest folk, the pure in heart?
Intent on what they touch, they see Him now.

-Scott Cairns

Hear the poem read by the author here.

Science, Poetry, and the Imagination Online

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

Join me Wednesdays in March for the Inaugural L’Engle Seminars featuring poets, scientists, and mathematicians from both sides of the Atlantic. Details and registration here.

A World Transfigured

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

A fragment of an unpublished poem on the Solemnity of the Transfiguration:

Wholly Mystery, whom I dare approach,
and in nearing nearly apprehend
not you so much as the gulf between,
suffer these, my poor petitions,
my tepid desires, as a mother
abides her child’s tedious requests
for one more story, a cup of water
to stave the coming of sleep.

Though what I ask is far less dear
than your presence, doubting
as I do what fullness lies beyond
the unmapped oceans of my ignorance,
hear in my halting words the longing
I long to feel more fully, empty
my heart of all that is not you,
open my eyes to a world transfigured.

Image Credit: 15th Century Ikon of the Transfiguration by Theophanes the Greek

Indelibly Marked

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

In which I review three poets writing in the Catholic vein.

Photo Credit: Luis Sánchez Saturno, The New Mexican

Science, Poetry, and the Imagination

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

In light of necessary COVID restrictions, the Glen Workshop, an annual gathering of writers, visual artists, musicians, and anyone interested in what happens at the intersection of art, faith, and mystery, will be held online this year (July 27-31) rather than on the campus of St. John’s College in Santa Fe. I’m delighted to be among the presenters this year, a faculty that includes some jaw-dropping names, who will also be presenting on IMAGE journal’s free Summer Stage series which begins next week .

I’m leading a seminar on science, poetry, and the imagination. In addition to reading and discussing some great poems and short prose pieces, we will be joined online by several distinguished guests from North America and the United Kingdom. Registration includes online access to the seminar, faculty presentations, and open microphone sessions. Registration fees have been reduced and scholarships are available. (The scholarship application deadline is June 1.) I’d love to have you join the conversation.

Here Comes Everybody

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

“And here comes everybody-
The closet renegades
The weary, hungry soldiers
From the children’s lost crusade
Here comes the restitution
We’d all but given up
This evening we’re content believing
That love will be enough”

  • Joe Henry, “Love is Enough”

I can’t say whether James Joyce had, as some people claim, the Catholic Church in mind when he spun the phrase, “Here Comes Everybody,’’ in Finnegan’s Wake. You’d have to ask Joe Henry what he meant when he used it in a song on his luminous CD, Civilians. I know this – it gets to the heart of last weekend’s conference at Notre Dame: “Trying to Say ‘God’: Re-enchanting the Catholic Literary Imagination.” Latino bishops and queer poets, Jesuit astronomers and everyday mystics, recovering alcoholics and college deans, all gathered in auditoriums, classrooms, and hallways, their conversations pulsing with creativity and generosity. Oh, yes – and love, too – the kind that changes lives. What better time and place to out yourself as a wretched Papist in a world that insists you keep such things to yourself.

Thanks upon thanks to Jessica Mesman Griffith, Jonathan Ryan, and Ken Garcia for planning and pulling off a first-time, unqualified success of a conference.

Some personal highlights:

Talking to Brother Guy Conosolmago, Director of the Vatican Observatory, about “big-idea” science fiction and the unaccountable explanatory power of mathematics in a mysterious universe.

(more…)

A Poem for Advent

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Sapientia

 

 

Listen to the poem here.

 

 

 

For my Mother at Advent

I shall teach my children as you taught me:
through patient example, gentle conduct,
and shared symbols, gravid with mystery
and grace. I recall how in Advents of
my youth, you taught us to make small mangers,
simply fashioned of paper and cardboard,
and to lay within them, each night at prayer,
a single piece of straw for every act
of kindness we had given Christ that day,
“So that,” you said, “He might have one soft place
in this harsh world on which to lay his head.”

Such memories illuminate my way
even now, although the time when others
attended to my happiness is gone.
Yet only now I understand the gift
you gave us in such homely traditions,
for when I come to rest at night, having
kissed the foreheads of my sleeping children,
I lay down not only on this, my bed,
but on a great cushion of softest straw
which, through acts of kindness more numerous
than I can recall, you have made for me.