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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Poetry - 'Holy Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Mercy...'

The following three poems are taken from 'The Mary Book' an anthology of poems and writings by different authors, assembled by F.J.Sheed, and first published by Sheed and Ward, London and New York, in 1950.

                                  Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

 In a Boat    by Hilaire Belloc

Lady! Lady!
Upon Heaven-height,
Above the harsh morning
In the mere Light.

Above the spendthrift
And above the snow,
Where no seas tumble,
And no winds blow.

The twisting tides
And the perilous sands
Upon all sides
Are in your holy hands.

The wind harries
And the cold kills;
But I see your chapel
Over far hills.

My body is frozen,
My soul is afraid;
Stretch out your hands to me,
Mother and maid.

Mother of Christ,
And Mother of me,
Save me alive
From the howl of the sea.

If you will mother me
Till I grow old,
I will hang in your chapel
A ship of pure gold.
            Hillaire Belloc


Song to Our Lady       -     Medieval: author unknown

Of one that is so fair and bright
Velut maris stella, - as the star of the sea,
Brighter than the day is light,
Parens et puella.  - Mother and maid.
I cry to thee to turn to me;
Lady, pray thy Son for me,
Tam pia.  - So loving.
That I may come to thee,
Maria.  – Mary.

In sorrow, counsel, thou art best,
Felix fecundate:  - Happy and with offspring:
For all the weary thou art rest,
Mater honorata:  - Honourable Mother:
Beseech Him in thy mildest mood,
Who for us did shed His blood
In Cruce,  - On the Cross,
That we may come to Him
In luce.  - In light.

All this world was forlorn,
Eva peccatrice, - From Eve a sinner,
Till Our Saviour Lord was born
De te genetrice; - Of thee Mother;
With thy Ave sin went away,
Dark night went and in came day
Salutis. - Of salvation.
The well of healing sprang from thee,
Virtutis. - Of virtue.

Lady, flower of everything,
Rosa sine spina, - Rose without a thorn,
Thou borest Jesus, Heaven’s King,
Gratia Divina.  - Grace Divine.
Of all I say thou borest the prize,
Lady, Queen of Paradise
Electa: - Elect:
Maiden mild, Mother
Es effecta.  - Thou are become.

Well He knows He is thy Son,
Ventre quem portasti:  - Whom thou didst bear in thy womb:
He will not refuse thy bone,
Parvum quem lactasti:  - Whom thou didst suckle as a baby:
So courteous and so good He is,
He hath brought us to our bliss
Superni.  - Of heaven.
Who hast shut up the dark foul pit
Inferni.  - Of hell.
                                        Medieval - author unknown.


                                                  Caryll Houselander  (1901-1954)

The Reed    by Caryll Houselander

She is a reed,
straight and simple,
growing by a lake
in Nazareth

a reed that is empty,
until the Breath of God
fills it with infinite music:

and the breath of the Spirit of Love
utters the Word of God
through an empty reed.

The Word of God
is infinite music
in a little reed:

it is the sound of a Virgin’s heart,
beating in the solitude of adoration:
it is a girl’s voice
speaking to an angel,
answering for the whole world;

it is the sound of the heart of Christ,
beating within the Virgin’s heart;
it is the pulse of God,
timed by the breath of a Child.

The circle of a girl’s arms
has changed the world –
the round and sorrowful world
to a cradle for God.

She has laid love in His cradle:
in every cot
Mary has laid her Child.

In each
comes Christ;
in each Christ comes
to birth;
comes Christ from the Mother’s breast,
as the bird from the sun
returning again to the tree he knows,
and the nest,
to last year’s rifled nest.

Into our hands
Mary has given her Child:
heir to the world’s tears,
heir to the world’s toil,
heir to the world’s scars,
heir to the chill dawn
over the ruin of wars.

She has laid love in His cradle,
answering, for us all,
“Be it done unto me”:

The child in the wooden bed,
the light in the dark house,
the life in the failing soul,
the Host in the priest’s hands,
the seed in the hard earth,
the man who is child again-
quiet in the burial bands,
waiting his birth.

Mary, Mother of God,
we are the poor soil
and the dry dust;
we are hard with a cold frost.

Be warmth to the world;
be the thaw,
warm on the cold frost;
be the thaw that melts,
that the tender shoot of Christ,
piercing the hard heart,
flower to a spring in us.

Be hands that are rocking the world
to a kind rhythm of love:
that the incoherence of war
and the chaos of our unrest
be soothed to a lullaby;
and the round and sorrowful world,
in your hands,
the cradle of God.

                            Caryll Houselander
  N.B. If you, like me, enjoy the writings of Caryll Houselander, you will find further works by her on this website (umblepie), with direct link through the sidebar.
'The Rosary' on 18.1.12;  'Philip Speaks' on 4.8.14; and  'Advent' on 18.11.15.                              


'God has created ME to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another.   I have my mission -  I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.
               I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.  He has not created me for naught.  I shall do good,  I shall do His work.  I shall be an angel of peace,  a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it -  if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.'
                                                  Blessed John Henry Newman


                                                  'Cardinal Newman' (1801-1890)
                                                             by John Everett Millais

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