Wednesday, September 19, 2007


by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Patience, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray,
But bid for, Patience is! Patience who asks
Wants war, wants wounds; weary his times, his tasks;
To do without, take tosses, and obey.
Rare patience roots in these, and, these away,
Nowhere. Natural heart's ivy, Patience masks
Our ruins of wrecked past purpose. There she basks
Purple eyes and seas of liquid leaves all day.

We hear our hearts grate on themselves: it kills
To bruise them dearer. Yet the rebellious wills
Of us we do bid God bend to him even so.
And where is he who more and more distils
Delicious kindness? -- He is patient. Patience fills
His crisp combs, and that comes those ways we know.

* * *

Have you ever prayed for patience? It's that scary thing everyone wants and no one wants to pray for. Because when you do, God always sends you just those things that try the little patience you've got. If patience isn't found in suffering, it's found "nowhere." I like the image of patience as ivy, growing over the ruins of what we wanted and making them more beautiful.

It kills us to ask for more suffering than we already have, but since we long God to bend our wills to him, we ask for it all the same. And God, of course, is patient; a good thing too, considering how much we try His patience.

Monday, September 17, 2007

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

by William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

* * *

On Saturday night, Imelda Franklin Bogue, a Christendom alumna, sang a song made from this poem. I thought of it at the time as applying to Christ, but I suppose it could apply to anyone one loved. When we have so little to give, and our heart desires to give only the best, what can we give but our dreams? In the end these may be more precious than the "cloths of heaven."

Friday, September 14, 2007

An Attempt at Unrhymed Verse

by Wendy Cope

People tell you all the time,
Poems do not have to rhyme.
It's often better if they don't
And I'm determined this one won't.

                                       Oh dear.

Never mind, I'll start again.
Busy, busy with my pen...cil.
I can do it if I try--
Easy, peasy, pudding and gherkins.

Writing verse is so much fun,
Cheering as the summer weather,
Makes you feel alert and bright,
'Specially when you get it more or
        less the way you want it.

* * *

Thanks to Meredith for introducing me to Wendy Cope. She cracks me up.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Busy times

This is to convey my apologies for my infrequent blogging. I've been horribly busy lately. This week, I have so much to do:

1. Attend 18 hours of class: six classes in all, three of which are in a dead language (2 Latin, 1 Greek).

2. Study for a Greek test on Wednesday.

3. Write about 4 pages for creative writing class, due Wednesday.

4. Interview a professor for the school paper.

5. Review Waking Rose for the school paper. I guess I'll post that here too.

6. Choir Monday, Friday, and Sunday.

7. Call home.

8. Begin researching for English Novel paper.

9. Read texts for Lit Crit paper.

10. Colloquium Latine -- Latin conversation over lunch, Monday and Friday.

11. I'm trying to write a novel. Maybe this one will be a "keeper." The past ones haven't been.

12. Normal amounts of daily reading for English courses, translation for Classics courses.

13. And of course, my social life. Luckily that gets less complicated every year. (Although I hope it's because my friends and I are maturing, and not just because I have less friends.)

So, if I don't blog much this week, you'll understand why. I'm usually not an exceptionally busy student, except for crunch times. I usually have taken a course load well within my capacities, and I don't often have much extracurricular business. Currently, though, I'm taking about one more class than I feel comfortable with, although I'm not sure which class is the extra one, and I'm trying to get more involved in things on campus now that I'm a senior. I think I can handle it -- just not easily. No more goofing around. No more wasting time. And no more hours spiralling down the bottomless drain of the internet! I'll try to blog once or twice a week, but I can't promise anything too long or complicated. Hopkins is still in the works ... but on hold at the moment. We'll see what I can manage. Anyway, I hope to see you all here throughout the semester, as we try to keep poetry as a moment of peace in our stressful lives.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Song of Wandering Aengus

by W.B. Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

* * *

I've always been intrigued by the old story of the fleeing faerie lady who drives a mortal man to search for her all his life. (Another example is Keats, "La Belle Dame Sans Merci.") And the last couplet has always sent shivers down my spine.