Moonless Darkness Stands Between
by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889)
Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.
Today is the shortest day of the year – the winter solstice. Religious holidays Hanukkah and Christmas are purported to be based on documented historical events and just coincidence that they fall so close to the pagan celebration of the return of the light. Funny then that’s it is just another coincidence that light plays such an important part of these Jewish and Christian celebrations. Regardless of our beliefs – we all need a candle this time of year and a little faith that spring is coming.
I have spent this fall editing a chap book of poetry, mostly sonnets, written over the past 4.5 years. It is largely finished and now I have to make several decisions about what to do with it. Those decisions are more complicated because of the personal nature of the poetry – centering prayers for a non-believer in the form of sonnets which I have titled, The Canticle of Divine Doubt. I have shared several of the poems contained in the chapbook on earlier posts; Simple Praise and In The Hand of Heaven.
In Latin, Nomen es omen means roughly a name is one’s destiny. In Aramaic Thomas means twin, so it’s possible my doubt comes to me from a name sake, doubting Thomas, a relatively minor character in the new testament and I have always felt a metaphor for the doubt of the apostles and less a real person. A play on words of this Latin phrase is Ars omnia vincent – art conquers all. The canticle is my attempt to put to words what cannot be explained and in that incompleteness that poetry allows, find invitations and a commitment to kindness and justice as life’s guiding principles.
The phrase art conquers all suggests that the highest art is the art of living beautifully – or feng shui. The art of living beautifully an expression of our gratitude for our good lives. The art of being in the moment a directive to use our talents towards kindness and love. Many artists have felt their genius, their personal illuminations and inspiration are directed by a hidden hand, which some call their muse and others call spiritual enlightenment from their God. Today, on the darkest of days, may art penetrate the darkness and be a candle for our souls.
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
To Christ our Lord
I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.