Catholic Poems to share

Starting this thread is prompted by yesterday’s announcement that Pope Francis is to canonise Cardinal John Henry Newman on October 13th .

I’ll kick off with a poem by Cardinal Newman called “The Pillar and the Cloud” , but which we probably know better as the hymn "Lead Kindly Light ".

As a young priest, Newman became sick while in Italy and was unable to travel for almost three weeks. In his own words :" Before starting from my inn, I sat down on my bed and began to sob bitterly. My servant, who had acted as my nurse, asked what ailed me. I could only answer, “I have a work to do in England .” I was aching to get home, yet for want of a vessel I was kept at Palermo for three weeks. I began to visit the churches, and they calmed my impatience, though I did not attend any services. At last I got off in an orange boat, bound for Marseilles . We were becalmed for whole week in the Straits of Bonifacio , and it was there that I wrote the lines, Lead, Kindly Light , which have since become so well known. "

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on !
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on !
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on !
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years !

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile !

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

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Lovely.

My favorite Catholic poet is Gerard Manley Hopkins.

God’s Grandeur
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

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Nice idea. :slightly_smiling_face:

A classic by Joyce Kilmer [*December 6, 1886 – †July 30, 1918:

As Winds That Blow Against A Star
(For Aline)

Now by what whim of wanton chance
Do radiant eyes know sombre days?
And feet that shod in light should dance
Walk weary and laborious ways?

But rays from Heaven, white and whole,
May penetrate the gloom of earth;
And tears but nourish, in your soul,
The glory of celestial mirth.

The darts of toil and sorrow, sent
Against your peaceful beauty, are
As foolish and as impotent
As winds that blow against a star.

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I’m bookmarking this one.

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Here is a fun one by Hilaire Belloc. He wrote it while on his pilgrimage to Rome.

Heretics all, whoever you be,
In Tarbes or Nimes, or over the sea,
You never shall have good words for me.
Caritas non conturbat me.

But Catholic men that live upon wine
Are deep in the water, and frank, and fine;
Wherever I travel I find it so,
Benedicamus Domino.

On childing women that are forlorn,
And men that sweat in nothing but scorn:
That is on all that ever were born,
Miserere Domine.

To my poor self on my deathbed,
And all my dear companions dead,
Because of the love that I bore them,
Dona Eis Requiem.

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Adoro te devote translated by Gerard Manley Hopkins S.J.

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran—
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen.

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Such lovely poetry! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Welcome @LucianHodoboc .

Yes , there’s plenty Catholic poetry to uplift us .

Man’s Civil War by Robert Southwell S.J.

MY hovering thoughts would fly to heaven
And quiet nestle in the sky,
Fain would my ship in Virtue’s shore
Without remove at anchor lie.

But mounting thoughts are haled down
With heavy poise of mortal load,
And blustring storms deny my ship
In Virtue’s haven secure abode.

When inward eye to heavenly sights
Doth draw my longing heart’s desire,
The world with jesses of delights
Would to her perch my thoughts retire,

Fon Fancy trains to Pleasure’s lure,
Though Reason stiffly do repine;
Though Wisdom woo me to the saint,
Yet Sense would win me to the shrine.

Where Reason loathes, there Fancy loves,
And overrules the captive will;
Foes senses are to Virtue’s lore,
They draw the wit their wish to fill.

Need craves consent of soul to sense,
Yet divers bents breed civil fray ;
Hard hap where halves must disagree,
Or truce halves the whole betray !

O cruel fight ! where fighting friend
With love doth kill a favoring foe,
Where peace with sense is war with God,
And self-delight the seed of woe !

Dame Pleasure’s drugs are steeped in sin,
Their sugared taste doth breed annoy ;
O fickle sense ! beware her gin,
Sell not thy soul to brittle joy

Prayer In Darkness - Poem by Gilbert Keith Chesterton

This much, O heaven—if I should brood or rave,
Pity me not; but let the world be fed,
Yea, in my madness if I strike me dead,
Heed you the grass that grows upon my grave.

If I dare snarl between this sun and sod,
Whimper and clamour, give me grace to own,
In sun and rain and fruit in season shown,
The shining silence of the scorn of God.

Thank God the stars are set beyond my power,
If I must travail in a night of wrath,
Thank God my tears will never vex a moth,
Nor any curse of mine cut down a flower.

Men say the sun was darkened: yet I had
Thought it beat brightly, even on—Calvary:
And He that hung upon the Torturing Tree
Heard all the crickets singing, and was glad.

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Mary the dawn, Christ the perfect Day.
Mary the gate, Christ the heavenly Way.

Mary the root, Christ the mystic Vine.
Mary the grape, Christ the sacred Wine.

Mary the wheat, Christ the living Bread.
Mary the rosebush, Christ the Rose bloodred.

Mary the font, Christ the cleansing Flood.
Mary the chalice, Christ the saving Blood.

Mary the temple, Christ the temple’s Lord.
Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored.

Mary the beacon, Christ the haven’s Rest.
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision blest.

Mary the mother, Christ the mother’s Son.
By all things blest while endless ages run.

(author unknown)

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The following poem was written anonymously by a Divine Word Missionary. A favourite of mine, it inspires us to love of others, even in the smallest gestures of human kindness.

‘But’

It was only a sunny smile,
And little it cost in the giving;
But it scattered the night
Like morning light,
And made the day worth living.
Through life’s dark warp a woof it wove
In shining colours of hope and love;
And the angels smiled as they watched above,
Yet little it cost in the giving.

It was only a kindly word, a word that was lightly spoken;
But not in vain,
For it stilled the pain
Of a heart that was nearly broken
It strengthened a faith beset with fears,
And groping blindly through mists of tears,
For light to brighten the coming years,
Although it was lightly spoken.

It was only a helping hand
And it seemed of little availing;
But its clasp was warm,
And it saved from harm
A brother whose strength was failing.
Its touch was tender as angels’ wings
But it rolled the stone from the hidden springs
And pointed the way to higher things,
Though it seemed of little availing.

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The Hound of Heaven’ by Francis Thompson is too long to post , but here it is being recited by Richard Burton .

Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins S.J.

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

My high school English teacher used to read that every morning, to every class, every year. It was her trademark.

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Another Hilaire Belloc:

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!

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Time Goes By Turns by Robert Southwell S.J.

THE lopped tree in time may grow again,
Most naked plants renew both fruit and flower;
The sorriest wight may find release of pain,
The driest soil suck in some moistening shower.
Times go by turns, and chances change by course,
From foul to fair, from better hap to worse.

The sea of Fortune doth not ever flow,
She draws her favours to the lowest ebb.
Her tides hath equal times to come and go,
Her loom doth weave the fine and coarsest web.
No joy so great but runneth to an end,
No hap so hard but may in fine amend.

Not always fall of leaf, nor ever spring,
No endless night, yet not eternal day;
The saddest birds a season find to sing,
The roughest storm a calm may soon allay.
Thus, with succeeding turns, God tempereth all,
That man may hope to rise, yet fear to fall.

A chance may win that by mischance was lost;
The net, that holds no great, takes little fish;
In some things all, in all things none are crossed;
Few all they need, but none have all they wish.
Unmeddled joys here to no man befall;
Who least, hath some; who most, hath never all

Look Home by Robert Southwell S.J.

Retirëd thoughts enjoy their own delights,
As beauty doth in self-beholding eye ;
Man’s mind a mirror is of heavenly sights,
A brief wherein all marvels summëd lie,
Of fairest forms and sweetest shapes the store,
Most graceful all, yet thought may grace them more.

The mind a creature is, yet can create,
To nature’s patterns adding higher skill ;
Of finest works with better could the state
If force of wit had equal power of will.
Device of man in working hath no end,
What thought can think, another thought can mend.

Man’s soul of endless beauty image is,
Drawn by the work of endless skill and might ;
This skillful might gave many sparks of bliss
And, to discern this bliss, a native light ;
To frame God’s image as his worths required
His might, his skill, his word and will conspired.

All that he had his image should present,
All that it should present it could afford,
To that he could afford his will was bent,
His will was followed with performing word.
Let this suffice, by this conceive the rest,—
He should, he could, he would, he did, the best.

A few lines from the end of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. (Worth reading but really long.)

Farewell, farewell, but this I tell
To the, thou wedding guest—
He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small,
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day by Gerard Manley Hopkins S.J.

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hours we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.

With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.

I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.

Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

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