Tag Archives: ecology

Hildegard of Bingen: A Sonnet

Tending the tree of Life by Hildegard of Bingen

Tending the tree of Life by Hildegard of Bingen

The 17th of September is the feast day of Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, a remarkable and prophetic woman, who described herself as ‘a feather on the breath of God’, and whose many works in theology, music, visual art, poetry and drama are still inspiring people today. Indeed she is coming more and more into her own, as one of her key ideas ‘Viriditas’, or the greening and life-renewing work of the Holy Spirit, seems especially apposite for our time. See this page on her by a contemporary Benedictine. Appropriately for Hildegard’s day, I will be taking part in a service at Ely Cathedral this evening at 6:30pm called Dark Reflections: Poetry Environment and Lament

Do come along if you can.

The photo below is by Margot Krebs Neale

I wrote this sonnet at Launde Abbey in Leicestershire where I shall be giving an Advent retreat next year. It is published in my new volume of poetry The Singing Bowl, Canterbury Press,  available on Amazon in both the US and the UK

As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the play button or the title.

Hildegard of Bingen

A feather on the breath of God at play,

You saw the play of God in all creation.

You drew eternal light into each day,

And every living breath was inspiration.

You made a play with every virtue playing,

Made music for each sister-soul to sing,

Listened for what each herb and stone was saying,

And heard the Word of God in everything.

 

Mother from mother earth and Magistra, 

Your song revealed God’s hidden gift to us;

The verdant fire, his holy harbinger

The greening glory of viriditas.

‘Cherish this earth that keeps us all alive’

Either we hear you, or we don’t survive.

 

Photo by Margot Krebs Neale

Photo by Margot Krebs Neale

3 Comments

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Seven Whole Days: The Complete Set

Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light

Unending blue wherein we long to fly

Unending blue wherein we long to fly

Barley Sheaves grow golden in the field

Barley Sheaves grow golden in the field

The lucid moon and sun

The lucid moon and sun

 

 

 

 

 

Last week I posted my new sequence of prayer-roundels, giving thanks for the days of creation, one day at a time. It may be that some people would like to read or use them as a single sequence, either for private devotion or as part of a service focussed on God’s goodness in creation, so I am putting them all together as one sequence in this post for those who would like to use them in this way. These poems will be gathered together with others in ‘Parable and Paradox’ my next book of poetry, to be published by Canterbury Press in the summer of 2016. If you would like to use these poems or print them in a church bulletin/order of service feel free to do so, but if they are printed please add that they are used with the author’s permission and that they will be available in a book from Canterbury Press in 2016. You might also include the web address of this blog. Thank you. You can hear me red the poems by clicking on the roman Numeral or the ‘play’ button

Seven Whole Days

 

Seven whole days, not one in seven,

I will praise thee   George Herbert

 


I

Let there be light as I begin this day

To draw me from the darkness and the night,

To bless my flesh, to clear and show my way

Let there be light

 

Strong in the depth and shining from the height,

Evening  and morning’s interplay,

Blessing and enabling my sight.

 

Lighten my soul and teach me how to pray,

Lighten my mind and teach me wrong from right,

In all I do and think and see and say

Let there be light.

 

 


II

The firmament, the vast curve of the sky

The breath and weave of every element

Unending blue, wherein we long to fly,

The firmament.

 

Your Love has pitched the heavens like a tent

And delved the depth where hidden treasures lie,

From whose rich womb our life has its ascent.

 

Out of those depths I hear my spirit cry

As height and depth give praise with one assent

To that great form that orders low and high;

The firmament.

 

 


III

 

The earth will yield her still-unfolding seed,

And barley sheaves grow golden in the field,

The vineyard and the fruit trees, all we need

The earth will yield.

 

A soft wind sends the summer through the weald,

In valley folds the sheep and cattle feed.

The shoreline shines, Your wonders are revealed,

 

The waters are unbound, the ocean freed

To thunder praise, in whose depths are concealed

Your mysteries. Your praise in word and deed

The earth will yield.

 

 


IV

Lights in the night, the lucid moon and sun,

The lesser and the greater share your light

And lift my heart to you when day is done,

Lights in the night.

 

And lonely souls are gladdened by the sight,

For those who dwell in darkness hope is born.

The scattered stars still tingle with delight

 

Treading the dance, the seasons in their turn

Salute the lights of heaven in their flight.

In our dark hearts your praises shine and burn;

Lights in the night.

 


V

 

With open wings a seagull skims the spray,

Sounding the depth below, a great whale sings,

Your Spirit moves amongst them as they play

With open wings.

 

Now open me to all your Spirit brings,

Move in me too as I begin to pray,

That love may ripple out in shining rings.

 

Speak to my soul through all you made this day,

Through all that swims and flies and swoops and swings,

And let your Spirit lift the words I say

With open wings.

 

 


VI

 

You made us new and beautiful today

Your Spirit softened us like morning dew,

Your Image shining from us through the clay,

You made us new.

 

You woke us and we knew ourselves in you

We walked together at the close of day

You trusted us and called us to be true.

 

When we forsook your love, and turned away

You came and sought us, where we hid from you

And on the cross, in darkness, on this day

You made us new.

 


VII

Blessing and rest, delight in everything

Sustained by your strong love and richly blest

This is the the gift you give, the day you bring

Blessing and rest.

 

This is indeed ‘the gladness of the best’,

From first lines in the east where linnets sing,

To where the last light lingers in the west,

 

You lift the cares to which I used to cling,

As you yourself descend to be my guest

And show me how to find in everything

Blessing and rest.

 

 

a seagull skims the spray

a seagull skims the spray

you made us new and beautiful today

you made us new and beautiful today

Where Linnets Sing

Where Linnets Sing

Blessing and Rest, Delight in everything

Blessing and Rest, Delight in everything

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Filed under christianity, ecology, imagination, Poems

A Sonnet for Ash Wednesday

Brought from the burning of Palm Sunday’s Cross

I resume the thread of Sounding the Seasons, the sonnet sequence I have been posting here, and which is also available as a book from Canterbury Press, with this sonnet for Ash Wednesday. As I set about the traditional task of burning the remnants of last Palm Sunday’s palm crosses in order to make the ash which would bless and sign our repentance on Ash Wednesday, I was suddenly struck by the way both the fire and the ash were signs not only of our personal mortality and our need for repentance and renewal but also signs of the wider destruction our sinfulness inflicts upon God’s world and on our fellow creatures, on the whole web of life into which God has woven us and for which He also cares. So some of those themes are visited in this sonnet. As we go through Lent I will post sonnets reflecting on each of the three temptations of Christ in  the wilderness, as well as for Mothering Sunday and the Feast of the  Annunciation which also falls in Lent. And this Lent I have two special additions. the first is a link to the new Snippet Book for Lent by Steve Bell, to which I have made some contributions. Check out his snippet series HERE, and the second is my own new book The Word in the Wilderness which contains these and other poems set out so that you can reflect on a poem a day throughout Lent. If you’d like to pursue the Lenten journey further the book is available on Amazon both here and in the USA and is also available on Kindle. But if you’d like to buy it from a proper bookshop Sarum College Bookshop here in the UK always have it in stock.

 

As before I am grateful to Margot Krebs Neale for the remarkable commentary on these poems which she is making through her photographs. As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the Play Button

Ash Wednesday

Receive this cross of ash upon your brow,
Brought from the burning of Palm Sunday’s cross.
The forests of the world are burning now
And you make late repentance for the loss.
But all the trees of God would clap their hands
The very stones themselves would shout and sing
If you could covenant to love these lands
And recognise in Christ their Lord and king.

He sees the slow destruction of those trees,
He weeps to see the ancient places burn,
And still you make what purchases you please,
And still to dust and ashes you return.
But Hope could rise from ashes even now
Beginning with this sign upon your brow.

Beginning with this sign upon your brow

4 Comments

Filed under christianity, literature, Poems

Hildegard of Bingen: A Sonnet

Tending the tree of Life by Hildegard of Bingen

Tending the tree of Life by Hildegard of Bingen

The 17th of September is the feast day of Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, a remarkable and prophetic woman, who described herself as ‘a feather on the breath of God’, and whose many works in theology, music, visual art, poetry and drama are still inspiring people today. Indeed she is coming more and more into her own, as one of her key ideas ‘Viriditas’, or the greening and life-renewing work of the Holy Spirit, seems especially apposite for our time. See this page on her by a contemporary Benedictine.

The photo below is by Margot Krebs Neale

I wrote this sonnet at Launde Abbey in Leicestershire where I shall be giving an Advent retreat next year. It is published in my new volume of poetry The Singing Bowl, Canterbury Press,  available on Amazon in both the US and the UK

As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the play button or the title.

Hildegard of Bingen

A feather on the breath of God at play,

You saw the play of God in all creation.

You drew eternal light into each day,

And every living breath was inspiration.

You made a play with every virtue playing,

Made music for each sister-soul to sing,

Listened for what each herb and stone was saying,

And heard the Word of God in everything.

 

Mother from mother earth and Magistra, 

Your song revealed God’s hidden gift to us;

The verdant fire, his holy harbinger

The greening glory of viriditas.

‘Cherish this earth that keeps us all alive’

Either we hear you, or we don’t survive.

 

Photo by Margot Krebs Neale

Photo by Margot Krebs Neale

1 Comment

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A Sonnet for Ash Wednesday

Brought from the burning of Palm Sunday’s Cross

I resume the thread of Sounding the Seasons, the sonnet sequence I have been posting here, and which is also available as a book from Canterbury Press, with this sonnet for Ash Wednesday. As I set about the traditional task of burning the remnants of last Palm Sunday’s palm crosses in order to make the ash which would bless and sign our repentance on Ash Wednesday, I was suddenly struck by the way both the fire and the ash were signs not only of our personal mortality and our need for repentance and renewal but also signs of the wider destruction our sinfulness inflicts upon God’s world and on our fellow creatures, on the whole web of life into which God has woven us and for which He also cares. So some of those themes are visited in this sonnet. As we go through Lent I will post sonnets reflecting on each of the three temptations of Christ in  the wilderness, as well as for Mothering Sunday and the Feast of the  Annunciation which also falls in Lent. And this Lent I have two special additions. the first is a link to the new Snippet Book for Lent by Steve Bell, to which I have made some contributions. Check out his snippet series HERE, and the second is an amazing new Opera by Rhiannon Randle called Temptations, which is based on my sonnets on the Temptations of Christ in the wilderness and which I will post about, with full links to audio and video, later this week.

You can buy Sounding the Seasons in the UK by ordering it from your local bookshop, or via Amazon, and I am very happy to say that both book s are now available in North America from Steve Bell who has a good supply in stock. His page for my books is HERE

As before I am grateful to Margot Krebs Neale for the remarkable commentary on these poems which she is making through her photographs. As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the Play Button

Ash Wednesday

Receive this cross of ash upon your brow,
Brought from the burning of Palm Sunday’s cross.
The forests of the world are burning now
And you make late repentance for the loss.
But all the trees of God would clap their hands
The very stones themselves would shout and sing
If you could covenant to love these lands
And recognise in Christ their Lord and king.

He sees the slow destruction of those trees,
He weeps to see the ancient places burn,
And still you make what purchases you please,
And still to dust and ashes you return.
But Hope could rise from ashes even now
Beginning with this sign upon your brow.

Beginning with this sign upon your brow

14 Comments

Filed under christianity, literature, Poems

Hildegard of Bingen: A Sonnet

Tending the tree of Life by Hildegard of Bingen

Tending the tree of Life by Hildegard of Bingen

The 17th of September is the feast day of Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, a remarkable and prophetic woman, who described herself as ‘a feather on the breath of God’, and whose many works in theology, music, visual art, poetry and drama are still inspiring people today. Indeed she is coming more and more into her own, as one of her key ideas ‘Viriditas’, or the greening and life-renewing work of the Holy Spirit, seems especially apposite for our time. See this page on her by a contemporary Benedictine.

The photo below is by Margot Krebs Neale

I wrote this sonnet at Launde Abbey in Leicestershire where I shall be giving an Advent retreat next year. It will be published in my next volume of poetry The Singing Bowl, Canterbury Press, which will be launched at St. Edward’s Church Cambridge at 7:30pm on November 6th

As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the play button or the title.

Hildegard of Bingen

A feather on the breath of God at play,

You saw the play of God in all creation.

You drew eternal light into each day,

And every living breath was inspiration.

You made a play with every virtue playing,

Made music for each sister-soul to sing,

Listened for what each herb and stone was saying,

And heard the Word of God in everything.

 

Mother from mother earth and Magistra, 

Your song revealed God’s hidden gift to us;

The verdant fire, his holy harbinger

The greening glory of viriditas.

‘Cherish this earth that keeps us all alive’

Either we hear you, or we don’t survive.

 

Photo by Margot Krebs Neale

Photo by Margot Krebs Neale

11 Comments

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A Spring in my step? looking forward!

I fell and broke my leg at the end of January and for the last two months I have been wearing a cast, either flat on my back with the leg up, or latterly, using crutches and a wheel chair. And the one thing I have missed more than anything else is walking! I used to walk every day with my dog, in the mornings by the ‘paradise’ woodlands, and in the afternoon by the river along the famous and beautiful Granchester meadows. It was always on walks that thoughts and poems and insights would come, and I would glimpse the patches of God-light on my path. Well today I finally got rid of my cast and began, slowly and painfully to flex my foot, and gingerly to trust it with a little weight. It’ll be a while yet before I can lose the crutches and really walk, but that day is in sight. So to keep me going and cheer my spirits I thought I’d post again this poem about a spring walk I took in this very season last year. It’s about walking on a wild wet windy early spring day, but as you will see, it’s also about the four elements within and around us and also, perhaps a little meditation on those hints in Paul that in Christ’s redemption and renewal of humanity will also be the redmption, in and through us, of all nature, that the creation waits with eager longing for glory, hidden in us, in us to be revealed. Anyway I hope you enjoy it.

Once again I am indebted to Margot Krebs Neale for the beautiful images which accompany these poems. As usual you can hear it by clicking on the title or on the ‘play’ sign

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.

I find the One within, without, and everywhere

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Filed under imagination, Poems