Tag Archives: Blake

The Ninth Poem in my Corona on the Psalms: Remembering the Poor

We come now to the 9th psalm, which begins to develop one of the great themes of The Psalter: God’s care and concern for the poor. Indeed this begins a sequence of four psalms from 9 through to 12, which make God’s promise to defend the poor and needy explicit. For example:

Psalm 9:18 For the poor shall not alway be forgotten: the patient abiding of the meek shall not perish for ever.,

Psalm 10: 13 Arise, O Lord God, and lift up thine hand: forget not the poor.

Psalm 11:5 His eyes consider the poor: and his eye-lids try the children of men.

Psalm 12: 5-6: Now for the comfortless trouble’s sake of the needy: and because of the deep sighing of the poor, I will up, saith the Lord: and will help every one from him that swelleth against him, and will set him at rest.

As we pray through these psalms, this clear word from God that he will remember the poor and bring their oppressors to account, must surely strike us, perhaps unsettle and provoke us, but certainly calls for a response, a response which I have explored in the poems for this little run of psalms, of which this is the first.

The other verse from this psalm which entered deeply into my poetic response was verse 14: That I may shew all thy praises within the ports of the daughter of Sion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.

It made me think of how Blake, in responding to just this kind of Biblical poetry, imagined instead ‘The Daughters of Albion’ those in our own England called to sing God’s praises, but also calling God to defend the poor, so my illustration is the frontispiece of Blake’s prophetic book. So here is my response to Psalm 9, as always you can hear me read it by clicking on the title of the ‘play’ button. you can find the other poems in this series by entering ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right.

IX Confitebor tibi

As in the startling wisdom of a child,

So also in remembering the poor

Our scales are readjusted, reconciled

 

To the true calibrations that endure

When God in all his justice holds those scales,

Redresses our imbalance and his sure

 

And steadfast covenant at last prevails.

And even now I will rejoice in him,

Now, when it sometimes seems that goodness fails

 

My song will still delight in his good name.

So come and join the song, daughters of Albion,

Come and rejoice with all whom he calls home

 

Rejoice through every age and stage and aeon

As, patiently abiding with the meek,

We sing with all the daughters of true Sion.

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Filed under christianity, imagination, Poems

A Poetry Celebration for Kathleen Raine Oct. 12th at Girton

Kathleen Raine

Kathleen Raine

I am honoured to have been chosen to read at this year’s Poetry Celebration for Kathleen Raine, organized by The Temenos Acadamy,  as Kathleen was once a fellow of Girton, the Celebration this year is being held in her old college. The evening starts on 12th October at 6pm. readings from 6:45, and the evening finishes at 8pm. Tickets are available on the door or from temenosacadamy@myfastmail.com  Poets invited to read include Sebastian Barker, Hilary Davies, Jane Draycott, James Harpur, Grevel Lindop, and Clive Wilmer. Each poet will read from their own work and one poem of their choice by Kathleen Raine. I am going to read ‘Air’ from her suite of poems about the four elements so I will also be reading some of my own poems that play with or reflect on the traditional four elements, including this one about a walk in Grantchester Meadows, which will be published in my nest book The Singing Bowl:

As usual you can hear it by clicking on the title or on the ‘play’ sign

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Out in the Elements

I crunch the gravel on my ravelled walks

And clabber with my boots in the wet clay

For I myself am clay that breathes and talks

Articulated earth, I move and pray

Alive at once to walk and be the way.

The root beneath, the branch above the tree

These hedges bright with blossom, white with May,

Everything concentrates, awaits in me

the coming of the One who sets creation free

Earth opens now to sudden drumming rains,

The raised and falling waters of the sea

Whose tidal pull and play is in my veins

Spilling and spreading, filling, flowing free

Whose ebb and flow is still at work in me

And in the wombing pulse of play and work

When heart beats pushed in waves of empathy

Till waters broke and bore me from the dark

And found this foundered shore and took me from the ark

As rain recedes I pause to fill my pipe

And kindle fire that flickers into light

And lights the leaf all curled and cured and ripe

Within a burr-starred bowl. How fierce and bright

It glows against the cold. And I delight

In taste and fragrance, watching whisps of grey

And graceful smoke in their brief flight,

As sun breaks from the clouds and lights my way

I feel the fire that makes the light that makes the day

Now air is all astir in breaks and blasts,

The last grey rags of cloud are blown aside

The hedgerows hush and rustle in the gusts

As clean winds whistle round me. Far and wide

Bent grasses and frail flowers lean aside

I breathe the world in with this brimming breeze

That tugs at me and eddies at my side

Quickens and flickers through the tangled trees

And breathes me back to life and brings me to my knees

Akin to every creature I will learn

From each and all the meaning of my birth

I love the dust to which I will return

The subtle substance of my mother earth,

From water born by fire fathered forth,

An index and epitome of nature,

I sum and summon all the world is worth,

And breathing now His elemental air

I find the One within, without, and everywhere.

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Filed under imagination, literature