Incandescence

 

 
Poem on the first Feast of Pentecost



They don't know what comes next.
They are trembling,
assembled together for comfort,
confused, bereft, vulnerable,
exposed to hostile forces,
on the edge of unbeing.
They've nothing to bless themselves with
and their manifesto looks dumb
without a party leader.
Where are they to go from here?
 

It was safe in his company,
despite the witchhunt.
The suffering had a purpose.
They trusted what he was about,
dimly grasping that the 'whited sepulchre'
must be blasted to shards.
To Regain Paradise by dint of law
and the redistribution of wealth
was both illusion and travesty
that cost blood anyway.
 

He had come to weigh himself
in the balance,
the fulcrum of those scales
unhinged by Adam for all time,
without some Mighty Advocate
intervene with a case
of special pleading and turn the tables
on the wealth-and-muscle hungry,
those with intellectual pretensions
and stiff-necked arrogance.
 

But why abandon his own,
just when the tide seems
to be turning? The corporate
wounds, defiantly repairing, are now
incorporeal. His mother, the chamber
of his incarnation, the only shrine
and single point of focus, holding it
all together: they could scavenge
with their eyes of dust until eternity,
the vision fumed with nostalgia.
 

But hark! This rushing wind fans
embers into conflagration.
He's here! In cloistered space!
Mary's haloed head peers heavenward
and hands are linked in concord.
Atomic Courage! Immortal Inspiration!
Babel rased to debris! Love reigns!
No power on earth can quench
Shekhinah's fire! Go, tell the world
and dare to live as if...
 


From JERICHO ROSE, Songs from the Wilderness (poetry collection in preparation).

 

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Altar, Throne And Cottage: An outmoded vision?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pippa Passes - John Butler Yeats

 

 

...a quaint notion, minted in the early years of the 19th century as a uniform hierarchy for the ordering of society in Britain. Some may argue that, strictly speaking, it belongs to centuries before the English Reformation.

 Or, to put it another way: God's in His Heaven, All's right with the world. So sang Pippa, the little silk-winder from Asolo in Robert Browning's poem, Pippa Passes. I sometimes think he should have made that a qualifying clause: When God's in His Heaven, All's right with the world.

I was reminded of this some years ago by an online article entitled The Power of Words. Marsha Hansen revives the convention of giving honour to God before a public address. She feels that only African Americans of a certain age will know where she's coming from. At the time, I couldn't help wondering what this practice might signify to Barack Obama, or John McCain. Doubtless, it would be as mystifying to Donald Trump as the customs of Ancient Mesopotamia. Few will have been taken in by his charade at the Western Wall of Jerusalem.

Time was, when before a meal, with all family members assembled (simultaneously!) around the table, the head of the household would say 'Grace', a prayer of thanks to God for providing their food, but not only that, a blessing upon it that it would nourish the body and do no harm if it were contaminated. It was a kind of domestic Eucharist. The tradition survived through WWII and into the sixties when a certain degree of affluence and taking things for granted began to permeate social life. Today, it is observed only in religious orders, in academe and at (some) public functions. Even among Christian and other Faith families, it has become an overlooked habit.

This was a way of being for all parties, no matter how wealth and opportunity were redistributed from one term of office to another. A broadened franchise came with the understanding that governments were there to enact policies on behalf of voters, as expressed in general terms through the ballot box. The democracy we prize does demand leadership. Whilst it spares us the tyrants, it exposes us to the tyrannies of our own limitless expectations which, in turn, paves the way for the autocrats we dread. The idea of a democratic free-for-all and the overweening reverence for personal choice in every aspect of our lives creates noise in which the weakest voices are drowned out and the vulnerable get crushed.

It seems this template is in our very DNA, an image of our relationship with the Creator, from which we can’t depart though we may allow other powers and passions to occupy the territory and reconfigure it in their own interests. In the past, it was recognised that divine wisdom was needed in the making of decisions, and in the striving to live them out faithfully. If you prefer, you could say it was to accord an Intelligent Universe its due. Thanks and appreciation really can change our perception of the world and our destiny. What Tennyson articulated was once widely held belief and therefore had a very real charge: More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.

We live in an age of glib sound bites, rhetoric and empty promises, but in the beginning was the Word. If we believe in its everyday ability to focus the intentions of the heart and mind (down to memos on the fridge door!) then prayer and the sending of healing thoughts borne out by actions that enable them, must improve the quality of life for everyone, near and far. The extent to which it does so depends on our perseverance and how widely the energy takes fire.

As things stand, the cosmos is in crisis, the nations ungovernable. The rising generations are left bewildered by what life on this planet entails. They have no sense of where they've come from or where they're going. In Britain, they have no systemic connection with their cultural heritage, thanks to spurious interventions in education.

The old framework was as aspirational as it was formed. Yes, it was instinct with nostalgia for what never wholly existed. History lays bare the legacy of corrupt Popes, self-serving kings, disaffected peasants and revolutions that replaced one kind of despotism with another. But does that make the reaching for it misguided and the effects of reaching for it redundant? Politics and Faith in God have never wholly mixed, yet everyone has a blueprint for living in the gentle Beatitudes given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Honouring that 'policy' would go a long way to changing the climate of politics and delivering truer leadership.

Isn't it precisely because of the excesses of human nature that we lose our way and need such a model to get us on track?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thy Kingdom Come

 

This post was prompted by Stephen Evans' On Rolls the Old World, an excerpt from the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

 

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The Soul Of Genius

 

 

Back in 2015, Blackwell's Bookshops and the Bodleian Library jointly offered an Academic Writing Prize of £2,500 for the best student essay entitled What is Genius? It was timed to celebrate the opening of the new Weston Library where an inaugural exhibition, Marks of Genius, displaying 130 of the Bodleian's greatest treasures, was being mounted. Whilst 'genius' is a hackneyed term which undervalues its essential meaning, perhaps, after all, it is universally available.

I have been unable to discover the winning essay, but decided to share with you a few thoughts in the following poem. This is from my second collection, Mysteries of Light, which is currently being compiled.

 

 

A Talent Set On Fire
 

Genius is talent set on fire by courage.
Henry Van Dyke


Genius is interior light
the fathomless world of the crystal
caught in a needling sunbeam
or quivering candlelight

It is not of itself intellectual
nor inspiration, acumen, slick memory
the crisp organisation of words
on the uninformed page

Genius burns without consuming
like Moses' bush on Sinai
discard your mental shoes
this is Holy Ground
a penetrating glimpse
of form and meaning
hard edges melting
in luminous mist
patterns within patterns
reverberant echoes
from wild forgotten caves
pounded by tides subject
to lunar magnetism
the synaptic lightning
forked from the lodestone
of archaic memory

The landscape of genius
is the sheer rock face
grappled with irons and grit
for a squint at Eternity

 

The Great White Peak - Edgar Payne

 

Copyright

© Rosy Cole 2017

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Lily Pads And Leaping Frogs

 

 

Article first published elsewhere in 2009 and re-issued in response to Katherine Gregor's post

 

About forty years ago, there was a daffy Beatrix Potter image in circulation based on the conjoined masculine and feminine symbols. The wisdom quoted was that Woman was the lily-pad from which Man could leap into the ether.

And leap he has! Right into the drink!

Why this should have been current when Feminism was digging in its heels is interesting and somewhat ambivalent.

With Darwin up for consideration again, (incidentally, I have no problem with Darwin and the Bible) I recently revisited the Genesis account of Creation. Post-Fall, one translation states of Woman: "...your yearning shall be for your husband, yet he will lord it over you."  You don't have to be a theologian or a scientist to agree or disagree with this. It has its own compelling mythic power and rings psychologically true beneath all the layers of enlightened revision.

Commonly, women put the interests of their menfolk to the fore and will be the first to shut down those aspects of personality and aspiration which have no room to flourish within coupledom, for the salvation of the unit. This is the principal reason that many fewer of them have historically gained recognition in the Arts.

Isn't it also the underlying reason why Political Feminism is doomed to bring on a whole new set of problems in spite of its achievements? Whatever measures are taken, the truth will shuffle the cards to achieve a status quo and the 'glass ceiling' will exert compression like some ghastly scene from a James Bond film.

No sane person could be against redressing injustice and giving women an equal education and the option of a life without marriage, particularly an independent caring, teaching or artistic life, using her creative and nurturing skills. But that's humanitarianism. There's a sharp difference between that and the drive to compete with men in the boardroom. That sort of high-octane ambition generates resentment, proves nothing and is not worth sacrifice. (However, I am glad there are women in Parliament and some other high places, representing the female experience, who are prepared to struggle with the practical and emotional demands of their career for the greater good.)

Feminism as a Movement has emasculated men to the point where they're no longer confident of their role and can't win either way. It has also produced an excess of androgen in women to the point where some are distressed to find themselves sprouting beards!

Jung explains that pair-bonding is secured by the feminine in the man treating with the masculine in the woman. This confirms the essential identity of both and makes the relationship foursquare.

Women need to take on board, not just in an intellectual way, that on the shared platform of conjugal harmony, he has not arrived on the same train. Novelists, like Danielle Steel, have grown wealthy on peddling an archetype of manhood that is a woman's fantasy. We wish men were like that. At least we think we do. This makes us disappointed in reality and each dysfunctional.

It's all out of kilter and we must make shift as best we can. It can do no harm to trade chores. That's teamwork in a society shot through with multiple stresses and it can't be denied that men possess true inspiration in the culinary department, something that would have been anathema to our fathers and grandfathers, except in the Savoy Grill. But to insist on a division of labour that undermines the natural strengths of each gender is to invite chaos.

While women are the ones to bear children, there will always be discrimination against them in the workplace, with the best will in the world. That we ourselves have undervalued our child-rearing and homemaker vocation has come back to bite us. We are still not content and don't command the same male respect for our role which our mothers and grandmothers took for granted. Were women ever more august than on the cusp of Emancipation? The hand that rocked the cradle a century ago knew a thing or two and was well wised up as to how to rule the world. They fondly allowed their menfolk to cling to the illusion that they were the 'logical' ones!

The wisdom of persevering in adversity is powerful and wreaks change, no matter that it sometimes looks like defeat while that's going on.

Childbirth may be awesome, but I sometimes think it was a mistake to allow husbands and partners into the delivery room. Our forebears just got on with it and preserved a little mystique. Today, we somehow get the idea that we're not actually living unless we're 'on stage' every step of the way.

That's probably down to Shakespeare. Now, I wonder whether he was able to appreciate that Anne Hath-a-way with him?

Upon reflection, perhaps it was the other way round!

 

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