Archive for September, 2011

All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voice with us and sing:
alleluia, alleluia!
O burning sun with golden beam,
and shining moon with silver gleam,
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

O rushing wind so wild and strong,
white clouds that sail in heaven along,
alleluia, alleluia!
New rising dawn, in praise rejoice,
you lights of evening, find a voice:
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Cool flowing water, pure and clear,
make music for your Lord to hear,
alleluia, alleluia!
Fierce fire, so masterful and bright
providing us with warmth and light,
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Earth ever fertile, day by day
bring forth your blessings on our way;
alleluia, alleluia!
All flowers and fruits that in you grow,
let them his glory also show:
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

People and nations, take your part;
sing praise to God with all your heart:
alleluia, alleluia!
Let all things their Creator bless
and worship him in lowliness:
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

St. Francis of Assisi
1224 A.D.

A history of the words & tune
Canticle of the Sun (in Italian)
David Crowder Band adaptation

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Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.


What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands a lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet know its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

III. “On hearing a symphony by Beethoven”

Sweet sounds, oh, beautiful music, do not cease!
Reject me not into the world again.
With you alone is excellence and peace,
Mankind made plausible, his purpose plain.
Enchanted in your air benign and shrewd,
With limbs a-sprawl and empty faces pale,
The spiteful and the stingy and the rude
Sleep like the scullions in the fairy-tale.
This moment is the best the world can give:
The tranquil blossom on the tortured stem.
Reject me not, sweet sounds; oh, let me live,
Till Doom espy my towers and scatter them,
A city spell-bound under the aging sun.
Music my rampart, and my only one.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Tonight, while waiting wild winged hope with fears

Of loss, again the girl’s voice crying gay

And sweet – O playmate of lost pagan years! –

Comes ringing in the glory of the May.

O singing beauty! Singing though there nears

the moment of all finding and all loss:

together in our laughter and our tears,

wind-driven to the center where ways cross.

Rose garden in blue night, where souls embraced

in holy silence, timeless ecstasy:

Truth grew between us, final beauty laced

the stars, and awed we knew eternity.

 A secret sharing passed from eye to eye:

in death the singing beauty does not die.

Sheldon Vanauken
A Severe Mercy (1977)

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I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul,
the pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me:
the first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.

Walt Whitman
Song of Myself (1891-1892)

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In August we carried the old horsehair mattress
to the back porch
and slept with our children in a row.
The wind came up the mountain into the orchard
telling me something:
saying something urgent.
I was happy.
The green apples fell on the sloping roof
and rattled down.
The wind was shaking me all night Long,
shaking me in my sleep
like a definition of love,
saying, this is the moment,
here, now.

Ruth Stone

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The produce in New York is really just produce, oranges
and cabbage, celery and beets, pomegranates
with their hundreds seeds, carrots and honey,
walnuts and thirteen varieties of apples.
On Monday morning I will walk down
to the market with my heart inside me, mysterious,
something I will never get to hold
in my hands, something I will never understand.
Not like the apricots and potatoes, the albino
asparagus wrapped in damp paper towels, their tips
like a spark of a match, the bunches of daisies, almost more
a weed that a flower, the clementine,
the sausage links and chicken hung
in the window, facing the street where my heart is president
of the Association for Random Desire, a series
of complex yeas and nays,
where I pick up the plantain, the ginger root, the sprig
of cilantro that makes me human, makes me
a citizen with the right to vote, to bear arms, the right
to assemble and fall in love.

Matthew Dickman
The American Poetry Review (November/December 2008)

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AMONG deep woods is the dismantled scite

Of an old Abbey, where the chaunted rite,

By twice ten brethren of the monkish cowl,

Was duly sung; and requiems for the soul

Of the first founder: For the lordly chief,

Who flourish’d paramount of many a fief,

Left here a stipend yearly paid, that they,

The pious monks, for his repose might say

Mass and orisons to Saint Monica.


Beneath the falling archway overgrown

With briars, a bench remains, a single stone,

Where sat the indigent, to wait the dole

Given at the buttery; that the baron’s soul

The poor might intercede for; there would rest,

Known by his hat of straw with cockles drest,

And staff and humble weed of watchet gray,

The wandering pilgrim; who came there to pray

The intercession of Saint Monica.


Stern Reformation and the lapse of years

Have reft the windows, and no more appears

Abbot or martyr on the glass anneal’d;

And half the falling cloisters are conceal’d

By ash and elder: the refectory wall

Oft in the storm of night is heard to fall,

When, wearied by the labours of the day,

The half awaken’d cotters, starting say,

‘It is the ruins of Saint Monica.’


Now with approaching rain is heard the rill,

Just trickling thro’ a deep and hollow gill

By osiers, and the alder’s crowding bush,

Reeds, and dwarf elder, and the pithy rush,

Choak’d and impeded: to the lower ground

Slowly it creeps; there traces still are found

Of hollow squares, embank’d with beaten clay,

Where brightly glitter’d in the eye of day

The peopled waters of Saint Monica.


The chapel pavement, where the name and date,

Or monkish rhyme, had mark’d the graven plate,

With docks and nettles now is overgrown;

And brambles trail above the dead unknown.­

Impatient of the heat, the straggling ewe

Tinkles her drowsy bell, as nibbling slow

She picks the grass among the thistles gray,

Whose feather’d seed the light air bears away,

O’er the pale relicks of Saint Monica.


Reecho’d by the walls, the owl obscene

Hoots to the night; as thro’ the ivy green

Whose matted tods the arch and buttress bind,

Sobs in low gusts the melancholy wind:

The Conium there, her stalks bedropp’d with red,

Rears, with Circea, neighbour of the dead;

Atropa too, that, as the beldams say,

Shews her black fruit to tempt and to betray,

Nods by the mouldering shrine of Monica.


Old tales and legends are not quite forgot.

Still Superstition hovers o’er the spot,

And tells how here, the wan and restless sprite,

By some way-wilder’d peasant seen at night,

Gibbers and shrieks, among the ruins drear;

And how the friar’s lanthorn will appear

Gleaming among the woods, with fearful ray,

And from the church-yard take its wavering way,

To the dim arches of Saint Monica.


The antiquary comes not to explore,

As once, the unrafter’d roof and pathless floor;

For now, no more beneath the vaulted ground

Is crosier, cross, or sculptur’d chalice found,

Nor record telling of the wassail ale,

What time the welcome summons to regale,

Given by the matin peal on holiday,

The villagers rejoicing to obey,

Feasted, in honour of Saint Monica.


Yet often still at eve, or early morn,

Among these ruins shagg’d with fern and thorn,

A pensive stranger from his lonely seat

Observes the rapid martin, threading fleet

The broken arch: or follows with his eye,

The wall-creeper that hunts the burnish’d fly;

Sees the newt basking in the sunny ray,

Or snail that sinuous winds his shining way,

O’er the time-fretted walls of Monica.


He comes not here, from the sepulchral stone

To tear the oblivious pall that Time has thrown,

But meditating, marks the power proceed

From the mapped lichen, to the plumed weed,

From thready mosses to the veined flower,

The silent, slow, but ever active power

Of Vegetative Life, that o’er Decay

Weaves her green mantle, when returning May

Dresses the ruins of Saint Monica.


Oh Nature ! ever lovely, ever new,

He whom his earliest vows has paid to you

Still finds, that life has something to bestow;

And while to dark Forgetfulness they go,

Man, and the works of man; immortal Youth,

Unfading Beauty, and eternal Truth,

Your Heaven-indited volume will display,

While Art’s elaborate monuments decay,

Even as these shatter’d aisles, deserted Monica!


Charlotte Smith

Romantic Poet

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On Shakespeare

What needs my Shakespeare for his honored bones

The labor of an age in piled stones,

Or that his hallowed relics should be hid

Under a star-ypointing pyramid?

Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,

What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name?

Thou in our wonder and astonishment

Hast built thyself a livelong monument.

For, whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavouring art,

Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart

Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book

Those Delphic lines with deep impression took,

Then thou our fancy of itself bereaving,

Dost make us marble with too much conceiving,

And so sepúlchred in such pomp dost lie

That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.

When I consider how my light is spent,

   Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,

   And that one talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

   My true account, lest He returning chide;

   “Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”

I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

   Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best

   Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state

Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,

   And post o’er land and ocean without rest;

   They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Methought I saw my late espoused Saint

Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,

Whom Jove’s great Son to her glad Husband gave,

Rescu’d from death by force though pale and faint.

Mine as whom washt from spot of child-bed taint

Purification in the old Law did save,

And such as yet once more I trust to have

Full sight of her in Heav’n without restraint,

Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:

Her face was veil’d, yet to my fancied sight

Love, sweetness, goodness in her person shin’d

So clear, as in no face with more delight.

But O as to embrace me she enclin’d

I wak’d, she fled, and day brought back my night.

John Milton

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You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver 

Geese in Addenbrooke Park, Lakewood, CO

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My white nights whisper there
about some grand and mysterious love.

And everything glows like jasper and mother-of-pearl,
but the source of the light is mysteriously veiled.

Anna Akhmatova
from “The Summer Garden” (1959)

(trans. Judith Hemschemeyer)

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