Poetry

Lectionary Poetry – Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost (Year C)

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 ***

Lectionary Reading:
Psalm 46

 

 
 

CLASSIC POEM:

Hexameters
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

William, my teacher, my friend! dear William and dear Dorothea!
Smooth out the folds of my letter, and place it on desk or on table;
Place it on table or desk; and your right hands loosely half-closing,
Gently sustain them in air, and extending the digit didactic,
Rest it a moment on each of the forks of the five-forkéd left hand,
Twice on the breadth of the thumb, and once on the tip of each finger;
Read with a nod of the head in a humouring recitativo;
And, as I live, you will see my hexameters hopping before you.
This is a galloping measure; a hop, and a trot, and a gallop!

All my hexameters fly, like stags pursued by the staghounds,
Breathless and panting, and ready to drop, yet flying still onwards,
I would full fain pull in my hard-mouthed runaway hunter;
But our English Spondeans are clumsy yet impotent curb-reins;
And so to make him go slowly, no way left have I but to lame him.

William, my head and my heart! dear Poet that feelest and thinkest!
Dorothy, eager of soul, my most affectionate sister!
Many a mile, O! many a wearisome mile are ye distant,
Long, long, comfortless roads, with no one eye that doth know us.
O! it is all too far to send to you mockeries idle :
Yea, and I feel it not right! But O! my friends, my belovéd!
Feverish and wakeful I lie,–I am weary of feeling and thinking.
Every thought is worn down,–I am weary, yet cannot be vacant.
Five long hours have I tossed, rheumatic heats, dry and flushing,
Gnawing behind in my head, and wandering and throbbing about me,
Busy and tiresome, my friends, as the beat of the boding night-spider.

[I forget the beginning of the line:] . . . my eyes are a burthen,
Now unwillingly closed, now open and aching with darkness.
O! what a life is the eye! what a strange and inscrutable essence!
Him that is utterly blind, nor glimpses the fire that warms him;
Him that never beheld the swelling breast of his mother;
Him that smiled in his gladness as a babe that smiles in its slumber;
Even for him it exists, it moves and stirs in its prison;
Lives with a separate life, and `Is it a Spirit ?’ he murmurs :
`Sure, it has thoughts of its own, and to see is only a language.’

[There was a great deal more, which I have forgotten as I never wrote it down. No doubt, much better might be written; but these will still give you some idea of them. The last line which I wrote I remember, and write it for the truth of the sentiment, scarcely less true in company than in pain and solitude:]

William, my head and my heart! dear William and dear Dorothea!
You have all in each other; but I am lonely, and want you!

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

 
 

CONTEMPORARY POEM:

Psalm 46
Robert Alter

SNIPPET:
For the lead player, for the Korahites, on the alamoth a song.
God is a shelter and strength for us,

[ READ THE FULL POEM ]

 
 

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