Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Rowan Williams

I am slowly working my way through Rowan Williams' poems, and they are a strange kind of reserved beauty. Precise in a way different than Wendell Berry's, yet exact in their language and evocative semantic combinations. I couple his liturgical reflection with a similar worship-centered poem of my own, built on a description of the Eucharist written by St. Ignatius of Antioch on his way to be martyred in Rome.

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Advent Calendar

By Rowan Williams

He will come like last leaf's fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like a child.

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Communion With Ignatius

Every week is the same
but not: sick and lowly,
holey head and dregs
of heart, beaten down by
the brass knuckles of day
and the swift switchblade of
night, I draw forward, stretched
like Bilbo's buttered bread,
kicking and screaming like
Lewis in his study,
haughty fear of this meal --
my beloved disease
threatened perilously
by the medicine of
immortality, wine
and bread given in trust
of memory, the warm
hospitality of
this stranger, purified.

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