Lectionary Poetry – 17th Sunday After Pentecost (Year A)

With the dawn of a new church year, we have launched a new feature on our website, a weekly post of poetry that resonates with the lectionary readings for that week (Revised Common Lectionary).


*** Revised Common Lectionary ***

Lectionary Reading:
Philippians 1:21-30



Francis Quarles

I am in a strait between two, having a desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ.

What meant our carefull parents so to wear,
And lavish out their ill expended houres,
To purchase for us large possessions here,
Which (though unpurchas’d) are too truly ours?
What meant they, ah what meant they to indure
Such loads of needlesse labour, to procure
And make that thing our own, which was our own too sure.

What mean these liv’ries and possessive keyes?
What mean these bargains, and these needlesse sales?
What need these jealous, these suspitious wayes
Of law-divis’d, and law-dissolv’d entails?
No need to sweat for gold, wherewith to buy
Estates of high-priz’d land; no need to tie
Earth to their heirs, were they but clogg’d with earth as I.

O were their souls but clogg’d with earth as I,
They would not purchase with so salt an itch;
They would not take of almes, what now they buy;
Nor call him happy, whom the world counts rich:
They would not take such pains, project and prog,
To charge their shoulders with so great a log:
Who hath the greater lands, hath but the greater clog.

I cannot do an act which earth disdains not;
I cannot think a thought which earth corrupts not;
I cannot speak a word which earth profanes not;
I cannot make a vow earth interrupts not:
If I but offer up an early grone,
Or spread my wings to Heav’ns long-long’d for throne,
She darkens my complaints, and drags my offering down.

E’en like the hawk, (whose keepers wary hands
Have made a prisner to her wethring stock)
Forgetting quite the pow’r of her fast bands,
Makes a rank bate from her forsaken block,
But her too faithfull leash doth soon restrain
Her broken flight, attempted oft in vain;
It gives her loyns a twitch, and tugs her back again.

So, when my soul directs her better eye
To Heav’ns bright Pallace (where my treasure lies)
I spread my willing wings, but cannot fly,
Earth hales me down, I cannot, cannot rise:
When I but strive to mount the least degree,
Earth gives a jerk, and foils me on my knee;
Lord, how my soul is rackt betwixt the world and thee!

Great God, I spread my feeble wings in vain;
In vain I offer my extended hands:
I cannot mount till thou unlink my chain;
I cannot come till thou release my bands:
Which if thou please to break, and then supply
My wings with spirit, th’ Eagle shall not sly
A pitch that’s half so fair, nor half so swift as I.

*** This poem is in the public domain,
  and may be read in a live-streamed worship service.



To Die is Gain
Tania Runyan


Even when she found herself
curled up on the deck of a ship



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