Advent Carol

A broken crowd, approaching us,
like Magi trav’lling West,
brings sweet potatoes, smartphones, time;
their Only, but their best.
Though not so much as th’Elder Days
brought forth to grant my Love,
these things are theirs, and great abounds
the wealth brought out thereof.

Chorus
Prepare the gifts of life, and, bold,
set out in Winter’s cold!
Aged incense? No; not myrrh, nor gold,
but what you are, and hold.

Oh, long awaited harvest crop!
They look so sickly… worn…
ill-used by darker nights and treks…
quick, pour the oat and corn!
The front door – and the back! – they knock!
amassed crowds come at both!
I’ll fetch the maps. Fast! Gather wood,
that we may fill our oath!

Hail, welcome! Far your party’s trod,
through frozen river’s ice;
and under shadowed valley-walls,
to lay your heart’s true price?
No fear! This place is free to you;
for all are welcome, down
in this small entry, cramped with cloaks
for pilgrimage to Town.

Now, Joseph, kindle fire to warm,
and put the kettle on;
for these lost friends, who huddle in
our hostel, wait the Dawn.
Ah! So, by light of crackling heat,
I see the red, from blow
of winds upon one pilgrim’s brow;
but what is that, in tow?

Come now, dread nothing in this house;
I see your sack, your hoard!
Reveal the legacy you bring!
… oh dear, a golden cord.
Have you discerned this great bequest?
I know; when packed inside,
’twas nothing: rubbish, so you say,
yet now, how marv’llous dyed!

It is, in fact, a key-chain rope;
a door, inside your soul,
has sounded gentle knocks, of late?
A quiet, tapping roll?
Yes, I have heard it too, though in
quite diff’rent ways from you;
a call, remote and old, both chills
and thaws, for it is True.

I think I know the place you seek;
it is afar, in lands
that see the sun arise; but luck!
I, too, across the sands,
soon go, with husband, to his Home,
that is, our Bethlehem;
for census has been called; will you
join us, and bring this gem?

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The Death of All the Year

The death of all the year has come.
O, dowager, now glide
into your bed; your ken is past.
Now rest, in eventide.

Ah, friends, behold her final peace!
How placid is that rest.
She now has run her wanted course;
calm reigns within her breast.

Remember how her days began,
a babe brought forth in snow?
She, drawing that first breath,
in winter’s fresh white flow?

This life, begun with icy gasp
inhaled in deepest gloom,
waxed high ‘mongst verdant buds in flow’r,
nostalgic, for the bloom.

This maiden, then, rolled up her wool,
exchanged for linen, mild,
and danced among the roses, free,
a willing, life-crowned child.

Oh, I recall her highest hour,
in hectares flush with wheat:
she wed, ‘neath haze of humid sun;
that harvest-yield was sweet.

And when the Autumn leave had left,
her youthful beauty shorn,
she took her seat ‘midst all the spans
of years long past, thus borne.

Now, friends, that sums her course entire:
from dawn to this last night,
her waxen form remains: an age
for chroniclers to cite.

O maiden, mother, matron, all;
in these good words you dwell
secure. Much in the cold did wait,
that was, this year, done well.

But where-unto shall we go now,
for warmth of cheering ale,
‘gainst struggles in the cold and damp,
as orphans, in the hail?

Yet wait! my brothers… hear that sound!
Yes, hark to that small cry!
A little one is born to us!
Let’s to its side now fly!

Holy Cross Day

Like sapless maple-tree, or trodden root,
or twig that snaps and fractures under boot,
we miserable forest, blighted grove,
exposed to axes searching for a trove,
have no recourse to rain in such parched land:
this strange oasis where the with’ring hand
that builds a deadly concrete lot
encroaches, bit by bit, on every seed and knot.
Yet who is that upon the clearing, high?
A royal oak! Not seen in these parts, nigh
millennia now!  Hush! Wait! He seems to graft
his root and bark to barren ash! What craft!
And now… a crimson berry blooms?! What fruits
are these, that seem to warm our creaking roots?

Meditationes in Psalmum 148

Laudate Dominum de caelis;
laudate eum in excelsis.

Sing ALLELUIA from the halls
of golden heaven, God’s high realm;
and echo forth with trumpet-calls
that blinding glory at the helm!

Laudate eum, omnes angeli eius;
laudate eum, omnes virtutes eius.

Sing ALLELUIA, angel hosts,
with roaring voice; ambassadors
and heralds, whose great message boasts
of Heaven’s hearth and Earth’s bright shores.

Laudate eum, sol et luna;
laudate eum, omnes stellae lucentes.

Sing ALLELUIA, sun and moon:
of generosity, of light,
of splendor changing shadows’ gloom,
to spite the fear of darkened night.

Laudate eum, caeli caelorum
et aquae omnes, quae super caelos sunt.

Sing ALLELUIA falling rain,
whose gentle pouring makes us vim,
replenishing the sparkling main
of bounteous waters filled to brim.

Laudent nomen Domini,
quia ipse mandavit, et creata sunt;

Sing ALLELUIA to the Name
which whispers through eternity,
who gives the nucleus its frame,
and radiant stars, paternity.

statuit ea in aeternum et in saeculum saeculi;
praeceptum posuit, et non praeteribit.

Sing ALLELUIA to the Liege
whose loving care does not decline;
whose Fiat death cannot besiege,
nor fading of the light malign.

Laudate Dominum de terra,
dracones et omnes abyssi,

Sing ALLELUIA even you
that slither in the gaping maw;
whom highest Beauty can’t renew
yet still were made to praise, in awe.

ignis, grando, nix, fumus,
spiritus procellarum, qui facit verbum eius,

Sing ALLELUIA, elements
of fire, of hail, of winds that race
and crash against our battlements,
that we may solely trust God’s grace.

montes et omnes colles,
ligna fructifera et omnes cedri,

Sing ALLELUIA, mountain-top,
and vineyard-planted hill; whose sights
are joy to patient eyes which stop
to hail your lofty, arbor’d heights.

bestiae et universa pecora,
serpentes et volucres pennatae.

Sing ALLELUIA fowl and beasts
who nurse your young and hunt for game;
munificent is God, whose feasts
suffice for man and faun the same.

Reges terrae et omnes populi,
principes et omnes iudices terrae,

Sing ALLELUIA, kings of all,
and low-born needy child as well,
you princes, judges, poor: recall
that He has come to reign and dwell.

iuvenes et virgines,
senes cum iunioribus

Sing ALLELUIA innocents,
who know not swords nor clash of shields,
nor death; and elders, who dispense
old wisdom from the well-tilled fields.

laudent nomen Domini,
quia exaltatum est nomen eius solius.

Sing ALLELUIA to the Lord,
whose love is blue Earth’s glorious guide;
whose slightest creature is a hoard,
the treasury of Heaven’s pride.

Magnificentia eius super caelum et terram,
et exaltavit cornu populi sui.

Sing ALLELUIA, ever, thus!
Adorn the Cosmos and Earth’s bounds,
for God gives fullest health to us
to tend and steward all His grounds.

Hymnus omnibus sanctis eius,
filiis Israel, populo, qui propinquus est ei.

Sing ALLELUIA little ones,
for all the ages, hymns and songs;
for you are each adopted sons.
The Lord unites your ancient throngs.

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto,
sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum.

Sing ALLELUIA to our God
who — one high Father, Son, and breath
of life, the Spirit — rules abroad
in every age: who knows not death.

Amen.

The Garden Angel

When our first head mistook Great Love
for false and idle rule,
and spurned our bright vocation then,
to trample on the jewel,

The multi-faceted, the joy
of all their duties there:
that Cultivated Peace,
which veiled the Garden’s air.

And as the Master of the World
did mercifully hide
his highest creature’s shame from Earth,
he took th’intended bride

And led us by the hand, with grief,
to see the barren field,
the rocky toil of all the world,
the harvest death did yield.

He set a certain angel there,
from of the Cherubim,
who, having seen this fall, did weep,
lament a sword so grim,

And wince at such a stern demand;
for this old blade was fire
that, if the bride would but approach,
would be a deadly pyre.

So as the soul and body, once
all full with deathless grace ,
removed itself from life by curse,
we said, before the Face:

“The angel bars our way back Home
with steel and flaming sting;
come, let us spite this fiery gate,
enkindled by the ‘King’,

And so we make our own abode,
and found our fiefs on pride,
to burn away the memory
of Eden’s peaceful tide.”

The single angel sighed for these,
though keeping to his post,
and watched the progress of that heart
which God had loved the most.

And all the glory of that plot
has passed from history;
man, thus removed, in faded days,
forgot the mystery.

From death to death they journeyed on,
the long travail of years
and tilled, as best, the barren soil
which shaped their vale of tears.

The ages of the world moved on,
and on went wars and spite,
and on went lifeless ages: on
and on with none to right…

Until a single, sunny day,
an average course of dawn,
when Life itself then had its say,
restoring what was pawned.

It went like this: a grieving band,
a good “man” lately dead;
when ill had conquered all; the clash
had come unto a head.

And in this lustrous morning mist,
which gleamed as precious stone,
a door was opened, rock rolled back;
and watching, there, not known

To these, a changeless person sat:
familiar to earth,
yet young and full of life; with hope,
his smile declared “new birth”.

He dwelt there, pondering the sun,
and, seeing that its rays
alighted on his rocky throne,
no longer felt its blaze,

For one whose mighty arm and hand
had won the victory,
went forth; and stout, this servant gave
death’s valedictory:

“Dear women: brides, and maids, and more,
his name is Adam, now;
or, Adam as he ought to be,
for truly, truly, how

Could He destroy you, whom He loved
these many centuries,
and not unlock these ancient tombs,
your penitentiaries?

I know you’ve groaned and yearned to smell
that Garden air again,
and long have all your faithful raged
and pushed against this grain,

Yet barren death and curse came near,
and I, appointed guard,
watched, lest in all your maddened rush,
it be forever barred.

But now the one who left these clothes
has  rushed headlong, thus blessed,
and gone to flow’ring Galilee
that death may be redressed.

Don’t wonder much that this has come;
for Old went out to fade
by way of Garden, Fire, and Rock;
the New has come to aid

by rock and fire and garden path,
the opposite of old,
yet mirroring the one he saved,
his face embossed in gold.

Back then I held the sword; now stone,
he bid, that I have moved;
of old I mourned the Man and Bride;
today, their love is proved.

Old Adam left for dust and death,
the New has brought you life;
The Old went out, and slashed himself;
New Adam broke the knife.

Old Lust had scorned the teeming grass,
and furnaced idol shrines;
New Love has pushed away the ore,
redrew the icon’s lines.

From life to death to life again
is not an empty round;
the First went in, the Last went out,
on firm and surest ground.

Go tell your sullen men, your bone
of bones and flesh of flesh:
not only is the union healed;
the King now reigns afresh.”

An angel stood to block the way,
that Garden be not tomb;
the same now heralds break of day,
that grave be Garden’s womb.

St. Clare

Do you, as human, seek the greatest wealth?
Imperishable means to Life, our gift?
Then hear, you bountiful, who know not health,
The deaf’ning whispers of a friend called Thrift.
And this is from the nat’ural heart, as well
as from divinity, for Christ,
with Seneca, rebuked the pride of Hell,
and showed how low are riches to be priced.
I even dare to call her Blessed Want;
for we’re upheld by all her humble souls:
who, lacking most the means of pride, can flaunt
the “accidents” of life; their empty bowls.
Again I call her blessed, who is Poor;
beholden not to fortune, she is More.

Evangelistarum

Consider words, with all their fragile might;
their holy beauty stirs the memory;
like “Evangelistarum”: emery
for cutting gems that vex the golden light.
Think, soul, how this pure, flowing sound has graced
the page: a crystal-clear and airy word,
that hovers in the firmament; unheard,
for its antiquity, not forged in haste.
But though unused, its lustre lives for ‘ere,
like Gandalf’s “Istari”, the noble seers
of wisdom; they whose understanding ears,
whose ragged clothes, disguised how they were fair.
And more, “Vangelis”, singing of the moon
and sky and distant oceans lapping shores;
or simply “stars”, to which we often soar,
among their billion friends, where hopes are strewn.
This image had no conflict that’s resolved;
it’s happy just to be a thought, evolved.

Double Sonnet “For Seneca”

Do you, O Man, still measure your own walk
by pace of strangers, busy with all things?
And lowering your voice, you loudly knock
on doors of tyrants, cheaply claimed as kings?
Do you yet gorge from golden platters laid
before you, clanging, when your hunger dims?
And, frightened from assertion, thus put paid
to tales of good and right; of anthems, hymns?
Have you forgot our life? Calm acts of Good,
the hero’s will? Have these in mind at all?
That, yes, despite being lost in darkest wood
our journey follows some old, quiet Call?
I offer remedy, you Overwhelmed, who, lacking
peaceful words, are noisome — so hear me:
Bear, now, your very self away and think:
“If I would lack the busy-ness of strife,
without the friend to text, or kitchen sink
to gather ’round and talk, would I have life?”
O Men, your wearied hearts are cast down low;
despising me, you revel in each high.
I am a friend of man; perceived a foe,
forlorn, but hope’s Great Ally. Who am I?
Pursuer of all men, with love, unto the end,
though, knowing not, you fret to meet my face:
the only help whose countenance will send
its seeker to its opposite’s embrace.
I am the deepest knell, the piercing doom that summons
fools to wisdom — my name is Silence.

To Sweat

Belovéd sweat, the best of all the dews,
which, pouring from the crown to drench the face,
transports the weak man from his sullen place,
and acts as pure refreshment for his muse.
For just as floods from heaven seek (and find)
the waiting earth, the thirsty grass to drench,
so you full-soak the heart at lifting-bench,
and grow the crop of man’s voracious mind.
As soldiers say, your flow announces well
that weakness now is taking leave of me;
as rivers, burst from mountains, make the sea,
so you, improvement of the man, do tell.
At break of dawn, what joy it is to pour
this dew by toil, and bathe upon its shore.

Civis Cæli sum

O God, whose countenance has graced the Coin,
yet, bankrupt, our dull worship lies a-bed;
Thy Name our voices pledge, but lives purloin;
our loyalty and honor both have fled.
O Judge o’er sapphire Sky and em’rald Earth,
thy children, steeped in controversy’s lust,
abort the hope that comes of such high birth;
our diadems of virtue stain with rust.
How shall we overcome the pharisee
who swears by you in court, yet lives as dumb
to grace; whose vice is at its apogee?
How can we rise, thus deafened by this thrum?
Hear, Citizen of Heav’n: whose heart is best
will rule the Self; and so shall Man be blessed.