Friday, May 27, 2011


If you've never been to, and you like old poetry, you are missing out. Any time I feel like revisiting Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse (every few months or so) I go there. And I browse. It's really great. I just discovered that they have Charles Williams' poetry there as well. I had been reading it on St. Silas the Martyr (, but this is much, much better. On his gravestone in Holywell cemetery in Oxford, he chose only to be known as "Poet." I don't think very many people read his poetry today, and it is a shame. Here's one of his poems I've been savoring lately:


i. Christmas
Through His first darkness here He sleeps at ease
Happy and still, whose light is the sun's Sun;
And the rising day the portal sees
Whence issue and return the Three-in-One.

ii. Epiphany
Sleep takes Him, but a little His small eyes
Still search the room where the kings but lately were;
Small hands play with the gold; beside Him lies
The dull neglected casket of the myrrh.

iii. Maundy Thursday
Torches and lamps, now that day is done,
Another city than His own makes bright,-
Man's heart of terror: where by clouds the Sun
Is judged, condemned, obscured, and put to night.

iv. Good Friday
Farther than all created things He goes
Through the dim bottom and abyss of shades
Where the black wind of retribution blows;
Lo, peace! lo, joy! lo, 'tis Himself He raids.

v. Easter
Now night of night and Day of day returns
Upon the earth which but their image knew;
Which now in slumber and in waking learns
The double symbols of the only True.

vi. Prayer
Now rests the body and now rests the mind;
But for the soul the stars of heavenly things
Illumine space: a sweet celestial wind
Stirs in the lattice, and the sound of wings.

vii. The Dark Night of the Soul
Naked and stripped of all things but desire
(And even desire to its last sickness drawn)
The forlorn soul, crouched by a dying fire,
Remembers only that there once was dawn.

viii. The Consummation
Now the long day of His creation ends;
In that perfection which at first was willed
Activity its happy speed suspends.
Nothing is lost and nothing unfulfilled.


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