Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Thom Satterlee

The following poem is from Thom Satterlee's first collection of poems, Burning Wyclif, which, as Robert Fink notes in the Introduction, "is structured in a chronological sequence of selected events from [John] Wyclif's life and times" (p. xv). And the section from which the following poem is taken is entitled "The Private Meditations of John Wyclif," including poems on angels, celibacy, inspiration, and Eucharist.

I love the way this poem, like its inspiration, has its own logic, its own self-evident view of God and the world, and thus a tickled theological humor. And I love those last four lines; such is the way things go in that world on the way, in which God is all in all.

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On the Virgin Birth

By Thom Satterlee

There is no contradiction in the following:
A virgin conceived and bore a son.
Now the grammarians will say,
if she was a virgin, then she did not conceive;
and, if she did not conceive, then she did not bear.
Through their words they show disdain
for Holy Scripture and pay no attention
to greater minds. Even a cursory reading
of Anselm's De conceptu virginali
would reveal the common logic
of infinite terms and make plain the manner
in which we every day conceive of such terms
as for instance that of whiteness
by which we call a white wall white.
So likewise a virgin might conceive
and bear insider her what is above her.
The true miracle lies not in conception
nor in birth, but as always in the act of God
who this one time allowed the thought
of every mother-to-be, to be.

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