Monthly Archives: May 2014

One baby died, and one lives.

When I was browsing works by X.J. Kennedy I found this poem by him that was published in The New Yorker in 1958:

On a Child Who Lived One Minute
by X.J. Kennedy

Into a world where children shriek like suns
sundered from other suns on their arrival,
she stared, and saw the waiting shape of evil,
but could not take its meaning in at once,
so fresh her understanding and so fragile.

Her first breath drew a fragrance from the air
and put it back. However hard her agile
heart danced, however full the surgeon’s satchel
of healing stuff, a blackness tiptoed in her
and snuffed the only candle of her castle.

Oh, let us do away with elegiac
drivel! Who can restore a thing so brittle,
so new in any jingle? Still I marvel
that, making light of mountainloads of logic,
so much could stay a moment in so little.

And in the same week, I read this one on Poem-a-Day:

Another Poem on My Daughter’s Birthday
by Craig Morgan Teicher

There must be soft words
for an evening like this, when the breeze
caresses like gentle fingertips
all over. I don’t know
how not to write darkly and sad.
But it’s two years today since
my little girl was born, cut safely
from the noose.

We meant nothing but hope;
how near death is to that.

Only children, only some children,
get to run free from these snags. She
was born! She lived and she grows
like joy spreading from the syllables

of songs. She reminds me of now
and now and now.
I must learn
to have been so lucky.

Roses on My Path – salmon, not misty

salmon pointy petal cropI was sitting on the couch this morning, my head laid back with hot compresses on my eyes. I do this once or twice a day as part of a regimen to treat dry eyes. I had just mentioned to Mr. Glad that I was going over to church soon to deadhead the roses.

That made him think to tell me that the Sonny Criss CD he is expecting in the mail any day, which he ordered just to get one song from it, includes a rendition of “Misty Roses.”

“You know the Tim Hardin song, he asked, that goes, ‘You look to me like misty roses…’?”

“Is that because he needs glasses?” I wondered aloud. “No, I don’t remember it.” Then my music man played it for me off the Internet, while I listened from the couch in the other room.

Though the lines were vague and odd, I listened silently and attentively, until the singer crooned, “Flowers often cry
But too late to find
That their beauty has been lost
With their peace of mind….”

And then I laughed uncontrollably for a long time. Here are the words of the whole song. Probably many of you know this song, and if you love it, forgive me. I am willing to attribute something like feelings to plants, but the ideas in these lyrics, well, they just don’t sound like the roses I know.

Misty Roses

You look to me like misty roses
Too soft to touch
But too lovely to leave alone
If I could be like misty roses
I’d love you much
You’re too lovely to leave alone
Flowers often cry
But too late to find
That their beauty has been lost
With their peace of mind
You look to me like love forever
Too good to last
But too lovely not to try
If I believe in love forever
I’d forget the past
You’re too lovely
Not to try

It’s surprising to me how many artists have sung these words over the years. If anyone sang them to me I would think he must be drunk. I guess I have a perspective on roses and a love for the English language that prevent me from appreciating these sentiments expressed in this way. But I do appreciate a good laugh early in the morning.

Here is a rose I encountered on my neighborhood walks. Look at those pointy petals….To my mind it has nothing to do with the song above. But it is lovely.

salmon pointy petal cluster

You did unite Earth to Heaven.

ascension _voznesenievnov

When You did fulfill the dispensation for our sake,
And unite earth to Heaven:
You did ascend in glory, O Christ our God,
Not being parted from those who love You,
But remaining with them and crying:
I am with you and no one will be against you.
–Hymn for the Feast of Ascension

It’s something I can’t grasp, with my very earthly mind, how Christ the God-Man is now in Heaven. As we heard in the homily this morning, when Christ ascends, “He takes created flesh to a place Creation has never gone before.” I understand that Heaven is not a place on a map somewhere, but just what or where is it?

In any case, if the heavenly realm is open to the Son of Man, it’s open to us. We were exhorted not to forget that it’s what our life is really about, this journey to the Kingdom. Or put another way, the Kingdom is in us already, if only as a seed. “Divine energies are working in us,” as our priest explained.

And getting back to historical events, Jesus had told his disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. Ten days from now we will celebrate that event on The Feast of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit will help us on our heavenly journey!

The angels had something more to tell after Christ was received into a cloud, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, Who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven.”

I do understand this much: God is with us, and good things are up ahead. All the blessings of this feast to you all!

140th birthday of a star

g-k-chesterton at desk

Today is the birthday of our dear friend G.K. Chesterton. He was born in 1874, which makes it 140 years since God gave him to the world. I’ve begun reading Chesterton’s autobiography two times, and it seems the least interesting of all his writings I’ve tried, because it doesn’t come naturally to the author to talk about himself. Much of what I read in the first chapters was about other people, perhaps well-known in his day but not to me.

Chesterton liked people, as this clip from The Daily Herald in 1913 attests: “Quite a swamping majority of the men and women I have met in my life I have liked very much indeed. I have never met that Ordinary Man who seems to bore some people so much. All the men I have met have been the most extraordinary.”

It’s a good thing that the man’s own personality and character shine through his writings, so that we may know how extraordinary he was and is. He is for me a stellar example of the sort of writer with whom a reader can have a rich relationship. You might think from looking at my blog today that he is my literary Significant Other, being the author of my one current Bedside Book and my theme quote, and the subject of this post. He isn’t even my favorite author, but I happen to have put his birthday on my calendar.

A few years ago, for the July/August 2011 issue of Gilbert Magazine, the editors asked some Chesterton experts, “What is the most Chestertonian book you’ve ever read that was not by G.K. Chesterton?” A couple of them thought there was nothing else that could compare.

But James Woodruff named The Wind in the Willows, which happened to be published the same year as Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, because it is “a celebration of the primal things Chesterton loved — Home and Friendship and Adventure — all suffused with a sense of wonder and lived out by characters who write poetry and go forth to battle and wwind in the willows boatho eat and drink with right good will…”

Nathan Allen named The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis, “…because he deals with a lot of the issues that Chesterton cared about: education, the loss of a sense of a common culture, and so forth.” Other titles suggested were That Hideous Strength, also by Lewis; The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster; The Restoration of Property by Hilaire Belloc; The Restoration of Christian Culture by John Senior; and Pinocchio!

I wish I had a tidy way to take a few thoughts from and about this hero of mine and craft them into a fitting birthday tribute, but my skill and understanding don’t come near the level of my appreciation. [To demonstrate that fact: when I wrote that sentence I wasn’t yet aware that I had somehow moved his birthday forward 20 years. Ack! I think it’s fixed now.] Maybe after some more years — for his 150th? — I will do better than this mishmash. For today I will stop and let Chesterton’s own words from What is Right With the World convey the kind of attitude that has made him a favorite of mine and of ever-increasing numbers of readers:

“We are to regard existence as a raid or great adventure; it is to be judged, therefore, not by what calamities it encounters, but by chesterton hair flyingwhat flag it follows and what high town it assaults. The most dangerous thing in the world is to be alive; one is always in danger of one’s life. But anyone who shrinks from that is a traitor to the great scheme and experiment of being.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Mr. Chesterton!

(May 29, 1874-June 14, 1936)