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Showing posts from February, 2009

Cairns on Answers to Prayer

Possible Answers to Prayer
by Scott Cairns

Your petitions—though they continue to bear
just the one signature—have been duly recorded.
Your anxieties—despite their constant,

relatively narrow scope and inadvertent
entertainment value—nonetheless serve
to bring your person vividly to mind.

Your repentance—all but obscured beneath
a burgeoning, yellow fog of frankly more
conspicuous resentment—is sufficient.

Your intermittent concern for the sick,
the suffering, the needy poor is sometimes
recognizable to me, if not to them.

Your angers, your zeal, your lipsmackingly
righteous indignation toward the many
whose habits and sympathies offend you—

these must burn away before you’ll apprehend
how near I am, with what fervor I adore
precisely these, the several who rouse your passions.

From here.

Cairns Explores Reality through Poetry

Scott Cairns is a 2006 recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, a prestigious prize awarded to those recognized with exceptional achievements and promise. The cash prize, which averaged $38,236 in 2005, allows winners to develop their work free from normal monetary constraints.

According to Richard Schwartz, dean of the University of Missouri's College of Arts and Science, “The competition for Guggenheims is keen in the extreme." He says that “The daunting ratio between applicants and recipients actually understates the reality, since this is the most coveted of awards and individuals propose their strongest possible research/creative endeavors for the competition, knowing all others are doing the same.”

Cairns used the award money to travel to Mount Athos, an Orthodox monastic community in Greece. Cairns' first three visits to Mount Athos were integral to starting and finishing his prose memoir. Life on Mount Athos, like life at many secluded monasteries, is not for the cas…

Scott Cairns: On Slow Learning

If you have ever owned
a tortoise, you already know
how difficult paper training can be
for some pets.

Even if you get so far
as to instill in your tortoise
the the value of achieving the paper
there remains one obstacle -
your tortoise’s intrinsic sloth.

Even a well-intentioned tortoise
may find himself, in his journeys
to be painfully far from the mark.

Failing, your tortoise may shy away
for weeks within his shell,
utterly ashamed, or looking up with tiny,
wet eyes might offer an honest shrug.
Forgive him.

–Scott Cairns, “Slow Learner” in Compass of Affection: New and Selected Poems (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2006), 5.

Baby Pastels and the Dawning Light

A former student of mine wrote this poem about the light of the rising sun. In her poem, she makes an intuitive connection between the sun's daily birth and the hues of an infant's nursery. I did not work with her on this poem, but if the opportunity had presented itself, I would have encouraged her develop this idea further.

Wondrous Light

Oh wondrous light!
Born of the horizon, your birth spreads pastel hues
of pink, blue, yellow and violet
across the sky like a baby's blanket.
Fiery red and orange streak your playground
as brush strokes streak a canvas.
Blue filters into the sky like a baby's first breath
wile pastels melt away on the clouds.
Ascending to the zenith
you return the gift of life with radiane beams.
Your strength wanes as the day recedes
and light, now muted gold,
gilds all the earth with its Midas touch.
Oh wondrous light!

-- Megan Hofmeister

Milton's Rational "Lost Archangel"

The following is an excerpt from John Milton's poem "Paradise Lost". Here we read the soliloquy of the one "who first seduced them to that foul revolt". Satan is a great rational being who other rational materialists (such as Thomas Hobbes) find sympathy for and can trust.

'Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,'
Said then the lost Archangel, 'this the seat
That we must change for Heav'n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so, since he
Who now is sovran can dispose and bid
What shall be right: farthest from him is best
Whom reason hath equaled, force hath made supreme
Above his equals. Farewell happy fields
Where joy forever dwells: hail horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new possessor: one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is it own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.

Jesus' Attitude Toward Women

The following is an excerpt from Dorothy Sayers' essay "The Human-Not-Quite-Human" which appears in a book titled Are Women Human? (Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984).

I think I have never heard a sermon preached on the story of Martha and Mary that did not attempt, somehow, somewhere, to explain away its text. Mary's, of course, was the better part -the Lord said so, and we must not precisely contradict Him. But we will be careful not to despise Martha. No doubt, He approved of her too. We could not get on without her, and indeed (having paid lip-service to God's opinion) we must admit that we greatly prefer her. For Martha was doing a really feminine job, whereas Mary was just behaving like any other disiple, male or female; and that is a hard pill to swallow.
Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man - there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at the…

Poem from Ed Pacht's Recent Chapbook

El Corazon
for Pablo Flores (South American Musician)

A poem
in words so strange
it's language is unknown
but in the power of the speaking
in the moving of the hands
in the expression of a face
there is the heart
es el corazon
beating strong
singing strong
stirring souls
and we hear
and we see
that beyond this place
es la gloria
la gloria

- ed pacht