Category Archives: Poems

Holy Mount Cælestial

Now back to Zion goes the pilgrim’s eye,
Translating holy leaves into Chinese,
The sages for Aquinas. Riding high,
He circumambulates the Dipper’s keys.

Around the four directions goes his sign,
Yet stays where northern lights have made their home,
Facing the south, where province-cauldrons nine
Are come to offer to the lord of Rome.

For this is where we find Jerusalem,
And holy Zion in the pious heart;
This is the dwelling, faith the bosom’s gem,
Where Holy Ghost and Holy Church ne’er part.

By faith is fair Jeshurun in Cathay,
A promised temple for a coming day.

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Poem Published in The North American Anglican

The North American Anglican has published a poem by me, ‘I Travelled These Roads with My Father Once’. Check it out, and tell me what you think. Be sure to look at their other stuff, too!

Taken by Moonlight

O wondrous moon, thou hast seduced my sense.
Tonight, what books can keep me from thy gaze?
Thy light so near, thou takest me from hence
To excellencies far above the ways
I took this evening – when thou drewest up
Mine eyes from earth and filled desire’s cup.

Offences’ Debts

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Will God’s forgiveness free me now
From bondage unto man?
Are all my debts to man absolved
According to the plan?

I know his Spirit gives me pow’r,
Upon Christ’s perfect merits,
Without the law to plead his grace;
For whom he loves, inherits.

But what inheritance is worth
Enough my dues to pay?
For if I shun my duties now,
My hope will not appear:

If by my works I see my faith,
Which only justifies,
Then all assurance I dream up
Is nothing but cruel lies.

Could Newton make it up
To those he’d taken slaves?
No, he could only hope in God,
His final judge who saves.

No tears, no groans, no paltry works
Can heal the lashes’ scars;
But Christ, who meekly gave himself,
Will make them like the stars.

And is that treasure not enough
To satisfy all want,
Abundant beyond man’s design,
Your baptism’s full font?

From riches give that he has giv’n,
Incalculable worth,
And weigh not money’s sum but love –
Now have you any dearth?

A Heart of Hope

A gentle heart that, deep in thought, is veiled
In philosophic pondering I now
Perceive, where notes Romantic once exhaled
Their longing spirit in a total vow.
And my own heart is warmed to hear this other,
In silent sounds awakened from the past,
Remembrance of a dream’s sweet, pensive brother,
Desiring peace and beauty that will last.
I’ll drink to that; the honey that you poured
For me I’ll drain, and raise another glass
To songs that won’t be conquered by the sword
Indiff’rent to the dew upon the grass.
Where heart lies open to another heart,
That world will never end, nor shall our part.

Refuse the Image

O set a watch, O set a watch
Over my lips. I see the deep
State with its eunuch-poison botch

The soul of man, to make us cheap
And free to be ourselves and not
Ourselves when in the mirror’s leap.

O liberty! which by a plot
Doth forge my roboself
In autostep to bleed and clot –

All for the worn and weary shelf
To be replenished for the show
Of life imagined by a Guelf,

Whose totalizing vision’s woe,
Inflicted now upon us all,
He casts as rapture to forgo

If we would reckon it a fall
Of recollection to espouse
A people’s death as its halal.

New popery, new deadly vows,
A votive for new Antichrist.
Imperium it disavows.

Ha! we at thirty shekels priced
Shall be delivered to the priest,
Our natural spirit neatly sliced

And our right reason softly leased,
For quiet safety’s sake,
To the seductions of the Beast.

Of usury now let God shake
The heavens and the cursed earth,
And swiftly of this cursed ache.

Tell me how much your faith is worth
When desolating idols come
To cut off Israel’s second birth,

When to exact their token sum,
They will demand apostasy:
A pinch of incense, just a crumb

For loyalty. O Maccabee,
Resist in battle for your hearts
The terms that ‘for the gospel’ see

Smooth comfort for the ruling parts
In halls of pow’r, and not for poor
And broken reeds in ‘bigot’ carts;

For those despisers of the pure
Who worship sea-beasts, not for those
That trust the word of God is sure.

By this clear sign, whom YHWH chose
(When all are passing through the fire)
Is shown against his false-friend foes.

O Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
That we may love him who hath saved
And doth our living faith require;

To turn from images depraved
And serve the living Christ with fear,
His justice in our hearts engraved.

Love rises up, sometimes austere
Against the image on the plain,
Waiting for God soon to appear.

Meanwhile these precepts here remain:
To live is Christ, to die is gain.

Salus Populi: Ne Me Frego

I saw the Son of Heaven prostrate then,
Before the pow’r of opium specie prone,
Helpless to heal the people in his ken
With spirit-potency from heaven’s throne.
I see all Europe’s craven rulers now
And sov’reign peoples flooded in to town;
And will salvation come? To greed all bow,
Not knowing how in death’s passion they drown.
And once the black king of the south did rise
Condemning, once Hawai‘ian island queen
Bear witness to the crimes, high pity’s cries,
To heaven’s judgement. And has heaven seen?
O lawless! think you now that none will see
Your niente fatto? You will have no plea.

To Esfahān

Let us to Esfahān, you and I;
For you, my love, have widened my whole world,
And in that city let us wondering buy
The richest cloths humanity’s unfurled.
There let us die, and there be opened up,
And there our bodies vault the heavens’ blue
With arching harmony in every cup
That we pour out and richly drink anew.
Oh, taste the spirits of this alchemy,
Where city opens city, dreams to stitch
Together in a fearful tapestry,
Exquisitely bathing us in rose and saffron rich.
They say there, Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast;*
So let’s together, halves made whole and honest.

* Persian: ‘Esfahān is half the world.’

The Humour’s Sip

Photograph by HORIZON (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The dew drops from the heavens, delicate
Woven like water painting destiny
Across the sky; but I am desolate,
Still starved, thirsting for drunken harmony.

Oh, long have I been kept the taste of wine
From knowing, long delirious for want,
And starving, darkened, I cannot divine
Why I have seen but flickers, but a taunt.

Thou leavest what is thine for me; but thine own
Real presence thou still cloudest from my tongue,
A honeycomb whose sweetness to be known
Has mocked my craving to brought round young.

How art thou in me, yet I have thee not?
O one and only, art thou in my flesh,
My spirit in thine? If my heart forgot
His life, ’tis thou wilt open it afresh.

Dying You Shall Conquer

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Fear not the one who kills the flesh,
But him who kills the spirit, fear:
That Satan will your souls enmesh
In dissipation’s darkness here.

In mud and darkness grope the fools
For earthly wine, to hide despair,
To hide the face of God, who rules
And will the flesh from spirit tear.

One alone, connecting heav’n and earth,
The kingly pole of all the stars
Who came to us by virgin birth,
To bear and glorify our scars,

Anointed is the King of all
Whom they rejected for their pride;
Those ravening upon him fall
But fail to take from his pierc’d side.

So drink his blood, and bleed the jewels
Of faith and witness; eat his flesh,
Conformed as holy martyrs’ souls
To him who will the heathen thresh.

For blessed is the mourners’ song
Desiring that the Lord may lay
His hand firm on the fighters long
Before the dazzling light of day.

Watch, then, at midnight, warring man,
For Christ’s salvation in the deep
Of darkest death. Softly the plan
Now rustles through the fire you keep.

Photograph by Joe Parks (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Over the Fog and Sea

Thy leavin’s a week till Ash Wadensday:
Sae do thou repent then an’ turn that leaf over.
But I cannae keep thee, dear laddie.

O’er skies an’ rough waves an’ their power
I have but ‘fareweel’ now across the wide ocean
Tae send frae the cliffs of auld Dover.

The fog will envelop thy motion
Though pigeon do fly an’ God’s righteousness guide it
Tae bring us tae purer devotion.

Sae God be my witness. Benighted
Are vanity’s vapoury wishes; but he, in his mercy,
He keep thy guid fellaeship lighted.

On the Occasion of a Birth

For my grandmother.

Nor day of new-come birth today, nor yet
Of birth’s remembrance only, but a fête,
A toasting of a life that with the year
Renews its journey by the faithful ear
Toward the shining streets of heav’nly gold,
Whose Spirit’s eldest fruits never grow old,
Is this where we are gathered. In that spring
Æternal is the hope which long our King
Has promised those who now hold fast to him:
By faith their spirit never will grow dim.
The fire that burns within the holy breast
Will make an orient out of the west.

The Law of Liberty

For it is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Hong Kong, proud on the sea,
Thy freedom’s not thine own
To keep as treasure hid for thee,
But given to be known.

Behold, thy fate is bound
With that of China’s shores;
Thy spirit’s future will be found
In him who’s at thy doors.

The God who waiting stands
Will send believers out
Through doors that, faced with bright demands
For freedom, shut with doubt.

That way was closed to peace,
To those with earnest plea;
But let these doubtful strivings cease
When Love shall set us free.

See if there be a King
Like unto him who’s born,
To whom unknowing nations bring
Their tribute in the morn.

Beyond our highest sight,
Of brightest heaven’s birth,
The God of God and Light of Light
Descended to the earth.

The rulers crucified
His flesh in treason’s name,
Who slew the King none could abide;
Dying, he bore our blame.

But all the tyrants’ will
Could not his flesh corrupt,
Nor martyrs’ flesh for ever kill:
Their vain schemes he’ll disrupt.

Today all hear his voice:
Let none harden their hearts
Against the Lord, but all rejoice
That darkness soon departs.

He conquers spirits now
With dreadful word of pow’r,
And peoples at his feet will bow
Today and at th’ last hour.

Come, rulers of the earth,
And lay your golden wreaths
Upon the Child of virgin birth,
Your iron into sheaths.

Non Nobis

With lordly dignity he keeps his mind
Free of distractions, limpid as a pool
Whose fish move calm upon the deep, and cool
As earthly agitation cannot find.
If other man be fools and solemn bind
In them such things as make a man a tool,
He watches still, unmoved, as by this rule
Polaris tends the starry host t’unwind.
O brother, be not God to take this part,
Assuming that sublime and lonely yoke;
For he that’s mighty shall fill up thy heart
With beams angelic, as the womb awoke
One morning with a firmament to chart
Of wonders rich and strange, all in one stroke.

The Reign of Christ

O come, ye peoples of the earth,
come to the altar of the Lord.
Come by the blood of the Lamb,
once for all sacrificed and risen again.
Let all the nations worship him,
and bend their knees and hearts.

For he hath stretched forth his mighty hand,
and his heart hath he inclined,
and his ear given to his people’s prayers;
He that formed the earth and all heaven,
his hand hath shewn favour to us,
and the weak he hath tenderly regarded:

Come to me, all ye that labour,
and I shall refresh you;
Nurse at my breast, at this rock,
and I shall sustain you.

Sing his praises, ye mighty kings;
kiss the Son who made you his angels.
Burst forth with the joy of his righteousness,
with the equity of his sceptre of grace.
Lift up your head with voices clear,
and adorn his word with your harmony.

Dominion be to the King of kings,
to the Name above all names.
All glory be to the everlasting God:
to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.