Monday, July 17, 2017

Dulce María Loynaz

Dulce María Loynaz (1902—1997) is a Cuban poet and novelist, who published her first poetry collection in 1938. After the Cuban Revolution (1959) she refused to join the communist party. Even though the Castro government had her books removed from libraries and ensured that she was not published, she did not go into exile, but lived quietly in Havana. In 1992 when she received Spain's greatest literary honour — The Cervantes Prize — her work was once again permitted publication in Cuba.

The following poem was translated by James O'Connor.

Poems With No Names — XCVII

----Lord, it is You who gave me these eyes. Where should
I turn them during this long dark night that will last
longer than my own eyes?
----King to whom I swore my first vow, it is You who
gave me these hands. What should I take and what should
I leave behind on this pilgrimage that makes no sense to
any of my senses, this pilgrimage where I never have
enough or I have much more than I need?
----Sweetness in the bitter-sweetness of my heart, it is You
who gave me this desert voice. What word is worthy of
scaling the high peak of your silence?
----Breath in the clay of my flesh, it is You who gave me
these feet. Tell me. Why did you put so many forks in the
road if You are the Way, the Truth and the Life?

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (1821—1873) is an American poet who only published one book of poems in his lifetime: Poems (1860). His work was ignored by most of his contemporaries, although he received encouragement from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Alfred Tennyson, whom he had visited in his home on the Isle of Wight in 1855.

He completed a law degree from Harvard, but scarcely practiced. In the mid-1840s when he met and fell deeply in love with Hannah Jones, he began writing poems — primarily sonnets. They married in 1847. When she died shortly after the birth of their third child in 1857, Tuckerman was completely grief-stricken. It is out of this tragedy that much of his best poetry comes.

Although he was significantly influenced by the English romantic poets and the American romantics of his time, his rational, Anglican background, combined with the death of his dear wife, caused Tuckerman to become somewhat anti-romantic in his rejection of the pantheistic optimism of many of his contemporaries.

Jason Guriel wrote in The New Criterion, that Tuckerman "wrote poems too weird to be much appreciated in his own milieu, the United States of the nineteenth century, and not weird enough to distinguish the poet for many of his later readers who, failing to squint, saw little more than an accomplished sonneteer."

Sonnet XXVIII

Not the round natural world, not the deep mind,
The reconcilement holds: the blue abyss
Collects it not; our arrows sink amiss
And but in Him may we our import find.
The agony to know, the grief, the bliss
Of toil, is vain and vain: clots of the sod
Gathered in heat and haste and flung behind
To blind ourselves and others, what but this
Still grasping dust and sowing toward the wind?
No more thy meaning seek, thine anguish plead,
But leaving straining thought and stammering word,
Across the barren azure pass to God:
Shooting the void in silence like a bird,
A bird that shuts his wings for better speed.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600—1681) is a Spanish poet and dramatist of what is called the golden age of Spanish literature. Life is a Dream (1629—35) is one of his best known secular plays, and The Great Theatre of the World (c. 1635) one of his best known religious plays. King Philip IV was his patron, providing a pension for him, and funding the extravagant productions of his plays. He is also associated with the rise of opera in Spain. In 1651 Calderón was ordained to the priesthood, and in 1663 was appointed honorary chaplain to the king. He successfully found a dramatic form that well expressed Christian doctrine.

The following poem was translated by R.C. Trench.

The Cross

Tree which heaven has willed to dower
With that true fruit whence we live,
As that other death did give;
Of new Eden loveliest flower;
Bow of light, that in worst hour
Of the worst flood signal true
O'er the world, of mercy threw;
Fair plant, yielding sweetest wine;
Of our David harp divine;
Or our Moses tables new;
Sinner am I, therefore I
Claim upon thy mercies make;
Since alone for sinners' sake
God on thee endured to die.

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.