Category Archives: Girton

A Sonnet for Ascension Day

 Here is a sonnet for Ascension Day, May 29th this year, the glorious finale of the Easter Season.

In the mystery of the Ascension we reflect on the way in which, one sense Christ ‘leaves’ us and is taken away into Heaven, but in another sense he is given to us and to the world in a new and more universal way. He is no longer located only in one physical space to the exclusion of all others. He is in the Heaven which is at the heart of all things now and is universally accessible to all who call upon Him. And since His humanity is taken into Heaven, our humanity belongs there too, and is in a sense already there with him.”For you have died”, says St. Paul, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God”. In the Ascension Christ’s glory is at once revealed and concealed, and so is ours.  The sonnet form seemed to me one way to begin to tease these things out.

This sonnet is drawn from my collection Sounding the Seasons, published by Canterbury Press here in England. The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA and physical copies are shortly to be available in Canada via Steve Bell. The book is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of this, and my other sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great.
As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears in your browser or by clicking on the title of the poem.

I’m grateful to Oliver Neale for the image above, the image below was taken as we launched rockets to celebrate Ascension day at Girton College:

We have lift off!

Ascension

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .

6 Comments

Filed under christianity, Girton, imagination, Poems, Theology and Arts

Temptations! The new Opera based on my sonnets

temptationsThis First Sunday in Lent is the day the church reflects on the three Temptations of Christ in the Wilderness. These three Temptations, to material goods, to irresponsible power and to Spiritual pride are Universal and Christ faces them all for and with us, so that our disobedience can be redeemed and made perfect in his obedience. I will be reposting each of my sonnets on these three temptations on the coming days, but in this post I want to share with you an amazing Chamber Opera, based on those same three temptations which was written by Rhiannon Randle one of the music Students here at Cambridge, in my own college and performed, with a cast of brilliant young Cambridge musicians and singers, at the end of January. Rhiannon has, in my opinion, gone right to the heart of what I was trying to do in the sonnets and then re-worked and re-imagined it through the medium of her own art, with the result that when I saw the opera the whole thing became fresh, new, and challenging for me again. I hope it has the same effect on you. Below, with her permission I am posting a link to the complete libretto, a sound cloud link to a recording of the opera, and a youtube link to the St. John’s college performance, which was professionally filmed. Do enjoy it.

The Full Libretto is here: Temptations – final libretto

Here is the sound cloud recording: Temptations

And here is the film:

 

 

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Filed under Girton, imagination, Music

A Sonnet for Ascension Day

 Here is a sonnet for Ascension Day, May 9th this year, the glorious finale of the Easter Season.

In the mystery of the Ascension we reflect on the way in which, one sense Christ ‘leaves’ us and is taken away into Heaven, but in another sense he is given to us and to the world in a new and more universal way. He is no longer located only in one physical space to the exclusion of all others. He is in the Heaven which is at the heart of all things now and is universally accessible to all who call upon Him. And since His humanity is taken into Heaven, our humanity belongs there too, and is in a sense already there with him.”For you have died”, says St. Paul, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God”. In the Ascension Christ’s glory is at once revealed and concealed, and so is ours.  The sonnet form seemed to me one way to begin to tease these things out.

This sonnet is drawn from my collection Sounding the Seasons, published by Canterbury Press here in England. The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA and physical copies are shortly to be available in Canada via Steve Bell. The book is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of this, and my other sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great.
As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears in your browser or by clicking on the title of the poem.

I’m grateful to Oliver Neale for the image above, the image below was taken as we launched rockets to celebrate Ascension day at Girton College:

We have lift off!

Ascension

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .

6 Comments

Filed under christianity, Girton, imagination, Poems, Theology and Arts

A Sonnet for Ascension Day

The experience of writing Sonnets for Advent and for The Stations of the Cross has encouraged me to go a little further and to write a more extended sequence that will touch on the major moments and turning points of the church year, and so on the central mysteries of our faith.

So here is a sonnet for Ascension Day, which falls this year n the 17th of May. The mystery of this feast is the paradox whereby in one sense Christ ‘leaves’ us and is taken away into Heaven ,but in another sense he is given to us and to the world in a new and more universal way. His humanity is taken into heaven so our humanity belongs there too, and is in a sense already there with him.”For you have died”, says St. Paul, “and your life is hidden with Christ in God”. In the ascension Christ’s glory is at once revealed and concealed, and so is ours.  The sonnet form seemed to me one way to begin to tease these things out.
As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears in your browser or by clicking on the title of the poem.

I’m grateful to Oliver Neale for the image above, the image below was taken as we launched rockets to celebrate Ascension day at Girton College:

We have lift off!

Ascension

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .

13 Comments

Filed under christianity, Girton, imagination, Poems, Theology and Arts

Ascension Day Sonnet

20110601-101513.jpg
We have lift off!! Launching liturgical rockets on Ascension Day at Girton!
The experience of writing Sonnets for Advent and for The Stations of the Cross has encouraged me to go a little further and to write a more extended sequence that will touch on the major moments and turning points of the church year, and so on the central mysteries of our faith.

So here is a sonnet for Ascension Day. The mystery of this feast is the paradox whereby in one sense Christ ‘leaves’ us and is taken away into Heaven ,but in another sense he is given to us and to the world in a new and more universal way. His humanity is taken into heaven so our humanity belongs there too, and is in a sense already there with him.”For you have died, says St. Paul, and your life is hidden with christ in God. In the ascension Christ’s glory is at once revealed and concealed, and so is ours. Anyway the sonnet form seemed to me one way to begin to tease these things out.
As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears in your browser or by clicking on the title of the poem.

Ascension

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .

10 Comments

Filed under christianity, Girton, imagination, Poems, Theology and Arts

A sonnet for my guitar

lightly lifting my gibson, turning air to music

As I (literally) sang its praises in my last post, I thought I’d follow up, in this one with a sonnet about my guitar. I wrote this for our Girton Poetry Group when we had set one another the task of writing about ‘Hollows’ and I began to reflect on the way it is the lightness, space, and emptiness in a musical instrument that gives it its singing voice. Gibson guitars are made in Montana and I had read and enjoyed an article about luthier Ren Ferguson and the team who make guitars there, so some of that awareness entered into the poem too, together with the sense of an acoustic guitar as like a living breathing companion, feminine in its form, a feeling that a good guitar, like a good muse is always teaching you something new about your self and your craft. So here’s the poem. As always, you can here me read it either by clicking on the ‘play’ button (if it appears in your browser), or by clicking on the hi-lighted title of the poem.

Hollows

I lift you lightly, you were made for me;
No box of rain made for the grateful dead,
But breath instead and beauty for the living.
A certain shaping of the mountain air
Censes its secret wood-scent in your hollows.
The high, dry, hallows of Montana
First saw you braced and fretted, resonant
And ready to be sounded into song,
The smallest tremor trembles through your form
And turns the air to music. My full heart
Is poured into your forming emptiness
And given back as passion for another,
Your hollows hold a weight that sets me free
I lift you lightly, you were made for me.

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Filed under Girton, imagination, Music, Poems

Brave Black Squirrel: A Girtonian Ode!

There has been great excitement of late at the Discovery of the Girton Black Squirrel, many sightings, a facebook group, and even a motion from the parish council to adopt the black squirrel as a logo! If Girton had existed in Lord Byron’s day I’m sure he would have been a frequent visitor, and perhaps instead of the bear he kept at Trinity he might have adopted the Girton black Squirrel instead. So, borrowing the Ottava Rima stanza form that Byron used for Don Juan, and indeed the first four words of his epic, I have penned a little ode to the Girton Pioneer (with apologies to Lord B!)

The Girton Pioneer

I want a hero! Byron had Don Juan
As vehicle for all his fantasies
Each pleasure led him on to find a new-one
Inventive always in his ecstasies.
Byron’s  the  hero here,  at least the true one,
Pleasing his friends, teasing his enemies!
But now we’re all post-modern and ironic
And no-one ever dares to be Byronic.

Where shall I find a hero for our age,
A figure to inspire my eight-fold rhyme?
Where is the debater? Where the sage?
Oh who will mend this deep-disjointed time?
Our putrid politicians strut the stage,
Admiring one another, mired in slime,
They only mend their pre-election fences
And charge the said repairs to their expenses.

And what about the heroes of my youth,
The rockers who once moved me heart and soul?
Dylan delivered darts of daring truth,
The Rolling Stones were total Rock’n’roll!
They all wear slippers now, long in the tooth,
(Those years of sex and drugs have taken toll),
Now ageing rockers huddle round an Aga
And leave us in the grip of Lady Gaga.

I find no human hero for my themes
They all fall short, they shrivel, faint and fail.
But lo! A mystic voice spoke in my dreams:
“In Girton’s grounds you’ll find your holy grail
There dwells a creature all the world esteems,
A tribal totem, with a bushy tail!
Bright and dark, and wild and free and feral
An epic hero: Girton’s Brave black Squirrel!

Here is the hero for our modern times
Here is the one to set the world to rights
Here is a subject worthy of your rhymes
No silly superheroes in their tights
Could rid the world so well of all its crimes!
Put Girty, Girton’s squirrel up in lights.
I see the headline now, you’ll see it then:
“The First Black Squirrel enters Number Ten!”

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Filed under Current affairs, Girton, imagination, literature