Saturday, April 1, 2017

Easter

[from The Temple]

Rise, heart, thy lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delays,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him may'st rise:
That, as his death calcined*  thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and, much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art,
The cross taught all wood to resound his name
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews** taught all strings what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort, both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long;
Or, since all music is but three parts*** vied
And multiplied
Oh let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.


******

I got me flowers to straw**** thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

The Sunne***** arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th’ East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.









Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes***** to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we misse:
There is but one, and that one ever.******

--George Herbert, Welsh-Anglican Priest (1633)


*calcined:  Reduced to lime or other substance. (Oxford English Dictionary.) In this case reduced to our lowest commonest denominator, dust, of which we all are made.
**stretched sinew:  Christ on the cross.  Crucifixion stretches the sinews & ligaments horribly.  Herbert, a lute player, compares this to the strings of a stringed instrument.
*** three parts:  Most chords have only 3 different notes which are repeated, multiplied, at different octaves in different voices or instruments.
Note on Form: Herbert’s poems sometimes take a double-poem organization with two separate stanza forms. Because he played the lute and was familiar with popular songs of his day, he may have adapted this two-part structure. He may even have intended the poems to be sung.
****straw:  "strew", scatter without plan
*****Sunne/sunnes:  Old spelling for "Sun"
******The" Son" of God (Jesus) is the one and only Eternal "Sun".  (Cp. Malachi 4:2; the "Sun of Righteousness [Messiah] shall rise with healing in His wings.)



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Flowers at Home


If this is how nature looks while it's "groaning"  (Romans 8; and we live in a desert, so we do see nature groan at its worst!), how much better will heaven be?


BACKYARD: Prickly pear cacti, African daisies, sunflower (another not blooming).
green bean plant (base of sunflower), pumpkin plant (foreground), marigolds (foreground)





OLD ROSE (bred for desert life):  Closer to "wild rose."
Related to fruit tree family (plum, apple, cherry, etc.)








Wednesday, March 1, 2017

From St Patrick




God, my God, omnipotent King, I humbly adore thee.
Thou art King of kings, Lord of lords. Thou art the Judge of every age.
Thou art the Redeemer of souls.
Thou art the Liberator of those who believe.
 Thou art the Hope of those who toil.
Thou art the Comforter of those in sorrow.
Thou art the Way to those who wander.
Thou art Master to the nations.
Thou art the Creator of all creatures.
Thou art the Lover of all good.
Thou art the Prince of all virtues.
Thou art the joy of all Thy saints
Thou art life perpetual.
Thou art joy in truth.
Thou art the exultation in the eternal fatherland.
Thou art the Light of light.
Thou art the Fountain of holiness.
Thou art the glory of God the Father in the height.
Thou art Savior of the world.
Thou art the plenitude of the Holy Spirit.
― St. Patrick 

“For that sun, which we see rising every day, rises at His command… - Greg Tobin, The Wisdom of St. Patrick from St. Patrick’s Confession”

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Winter's Spring


The winter comes; I walk alone,
I want no bird to sing;
To those who keep their hearts their own
The winter is the spring.
No flowers to please--no bees to hum--
The coming spring's already come.

I never want the Christmas rose
To come before it's time;
The seasons, each as God bestows,
Are simple and sublime.
I love to see the snowstorm hing;
'Tis but the winter garb of spring.

I never want the grass to bloom:
The snowstorm's best in white.
I love to see the tempest come
And love it's piercing light.
The dazzled eyes that love to cling
O'er snow-white meadows sees the spring.

I love the snow, the crumbling snow
That hangs on everything.
It covers everything below
Like white dove's brooding wing,
A landscape to the aching sight,
A vast expanse of dazzing light.

It is the foliage of the woods
That winters bring--the dress,
White Easter of the year in bud,
That makes the winter Spring.
The frost and snow his poises bring,
Nature's white sporuts of the spring.

John Clare (1793 - 1864)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

From Old Narnia to New Narnia

[technically prose;  a reflection on the passage of time and of all things as this year draws to a close]

     "So," said Peter, "Night falls on Narnia.  [Narnia is destroyed; comes to an end.]  What, Lucy!  You're not crying?  With Aslan ahead and all of us here?"
     "Don't try to stop me, Peter, " said Lucy.  "I am sure Aslan would not.  I am sure it is not wrong to mourn for Narnia.  Think of all that lies dead and frozen behind that door."
     "Yes, and I did hope,"  said Jill, "that it might go on forever.  I knew our world couldn't.  I did think Narnia might."...

     "Peter, " said Lucy, "where is this, do you suppose?"
     "I don't know," said the High King.  "It reminds me of somewhere, but I can't give it a name.  Could it be somewhere we once stayed for a holiday when we were very, very small?"
     "It would have to have been a jolly good holiday," said Eustace.  "I bet there isn't a country like this anywhere in our world.  Look at the colours.  You couldn't get a blue like the blue on those mountains in our world."...
    "If you ask me, " said Edmund, "It's like somewhere in the Narnian world.  Look  at those mountains ahead... Surely they're rather like the mountains we used to see from Narnia, the ones up Westward beyond the Waterfall?"
     "Yes, so they are, "  said Peter.  "Only these are bigger."
      [They compare some of the other Narnian mountains to what they are seeing.]
     "And yet they're not like," said Lucy.  "They're different.  They have more colours on them and they look further away than I remembered and they're more...more...oh, I don't know..."
     "More like the real thing," said the Lord Digory softly...
     "Kings and Queens, " [Farsight the Eagle] cried, "we have all been blind.  We are only beginning to see where we are.  from up there I have seen it all---Ettinsmuir, Beaversdam, the Great River, and Cair Paravel still shining on the edge of the Eastern Sea.  Narnia is not dead.  This is Narnia."....
     "The Eagle is right, " said the Lord Digory.  "Listen Peter.  When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of.  But that was not the real Narnia.  That had a beginning and an end.  It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia, which has always been here and always will be here...  You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy.  All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia..."

     It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia, as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste...The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.  I can't describe it any better than that...
     It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling.... "I have come home at last!  This is my real country.  I belong here.  This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.  the reason why we loved the old Narnia is that is sometimes looked a little like this..."

     The light ahead was growing stronger.. And then she forgot everything else, because Aslan [the Great Lion] was coming, leaping down from cliff to cliff like a living cataract of power and beauty...Then Aslan turned to them [after talking to other creatures] and said:
     "You do not yet look so happy as I meant you to be."
     Lucy said, "We're so afraid of being sent away, Aslan.  And you have sent us back into our own world so often.
    "No fear of that," said
Aslan.  "Have you not guessed?"
   Their hearts leaped, and a wild hope rose within them.
    [Aslan explains that they died in their own world.   That they and the  Pevensie parents have come out of the "Shadow-Lands" and will stay in the New Narnia forever.]

     And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them...now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which on one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

--C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle.  (c) 1956

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Music Festival

Back performing at the Acker Music Festival in Northern Arizona, under the performing name "B.C.:  Before Copyrights."  Baroque music and ancient European folk carols.






Thursday, December 1, 2016

Journey of the Magi


A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey
:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The
very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sorefooted,

   refractory,
Lying down in the
melting snow.

There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling and running away,
  and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out,

   and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly

And the villages dirty

   and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to
travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was
all folly.




Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating
the darkness,
And
three trees* on the low sky,

And an old white horse galloped away
in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves
over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for

pieces of silver**,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information,

  and so we continued
And
arriving at evening,

not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was

(you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down

This: were we led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt.

I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different;

   this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us,

   like Death, our death***.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old

   dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.



---T.S. Eliot, 1927  (c) by owner

* A foreshadowing of the three crosses, Jesus's and the two thieves
**Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver; the soldiers gambling for his cloak
**Christ came to suffer death for our sins.  Death was haunting even the birth.